As I read the following passage in preparation for my weekly men’s bible study group, it just jumped out at me as being the central problem of what’s wrong with our society, therefore what is wrong with our schools.
Excerpt from Real Man by Ed Cole
The constant downwards spiral of ethics and expectation from our students began in the 1960 with a group of social scientist developing a teaching method called “Values Clarification,” the process of determining what may or may not be right for a person in a given situation. In this scenario, all moral “oughts” are reduced from universal, absolute values to individual relative values. What is right for me may not be right for you, but that’s okay. The basic philosophy behind the teaching is that no absolute values exist, or, as its proponents put it, values are “personal things”
Educators were taught it was wrong to instruct children that murder and stealing are bad. Teaching that honesty and loyalty are good was equally wrong. They said the teacher should do no more than help the student clarify his own values. Mr. Richard Baer, an associate professor at New York State College, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “Values Clarification,” in essence, gave the message to adolescents that parent, the school or society had not right to tell them what standards should guide their behavior, especially sexually.
After fifty years and three or four generations, there are very few absolute values, everything has a gray area. Nothing is just right or wrong. Some things are only wrong for one person or group and acceptable for another person or group.
One of the most glaring examples of the downward spiral of our society is the “acceptable” use of profanity in our everyday language. In the 1970’s,there was George Carlin’s seven dirty words that were not allowed to be said on television or radio. Flash forward to 2014 and you hear most of them being used frequently on regular network television.
Today in most large urban and suburban high schools, if you walk down the halls during class changes, then there is a good chance that you will hear the “F” word used a dozen times or more. There is no shame in the use of it and most students don’t even realize that they are using it. When you tell them that the use of that type of language is unacceptable, many of them will respond by saying “I didn’t cuss.”
The use of profanity is in the everyday classroom has risen to an unacceptable level. To help combat the problem school used to have the authority to request a citation for “disturbing the peace” when a student used profanity in the school setting. With the use of this strategy there has been and steep increase in the number of students ending up in court facing a judge.
In the State of Texas, the population has increased an average of about 80,000 students per year the last several years. Even if the same percentage of students are committing offenses, then there will still be more actual offenses being prosecuted.
3% of 4 million students is 120,000 students
3% of 5 million students is 150,000 students
By just viewing our example, you can see that just by virtue of the increasing enrollment statewide, there are going to be potentially more students being prosecuted.
In response to the increased number of students being prosecuted for fighting and disturbing the peace, the State Legislature in 2013 passed a law that made it illegal to prosecute students for fighting, disturbing the peace (including profanity) and many other offenses. Thank you Royce West.
Last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Nationwide Guidelines for School Discipline. The premise behind these guidelines was that to many students of color and those with disabilities are receiving harsher punishment than others. I’m sure Mr. Holder and Mr. Duncan’s are well intentioned but I question the use of their position in promoting this type of policy.
As I conclude my thoughts, I take you back to where I began. We are now a society in which there is not a definite right or wrong but only relative individual values. It is time to have some standards that are non-negotiable for all students no matter how different they may be:
- Profanity is never acceptable
Fighting is never acceptable
Being disrespectful to an adult in school is never acceptable
Cheating is never acceptable
No single student has the right to keep 24 others from learning.
You must be present in school to learn
The only standards this state and country that our leaders care about are those that are measurable with multiple choice question tests. Life is not a multiple-choice test. It’s time to teach our students that there is a definite right and wrong.
It is time for educators to take the lead in demanding these changes.
David R. Taylor
26-Year Teacher, Coach, and Principal