Dear Deb, We do agree: Violence is not the essential reason that schools are unsuccessful. We agree that violence is not caused by schools, and that in every community the schools are the safest environment that students are likely to encounter. That was not the point, however, that I was making. The point was that we live in a society where authority of all kinds has been eroded, that the media regularly and consistently undermines adult authority, and that schools are no longer safe from the intrusions of the street and the popular culture. No matter whether schools are progressive ...


Dear Diane, You’ve opened a can of worms—or something like that. There’s so much in your last letter to take on that I’m at a loss about where to start. Our readers—especially teachers—really got excited talking about disciplining the unruly. Is there more brutal violence today than in yesteryears? I’m always suspicious of such claims—although assuredly guns are more deadly—but I don’t want to argue that point. Nor the lesser one, that forms of disrespect of authority are worse than ever. But I contend that schools are a safer ...


Dear Deb, I was just sitting down to reply to your post and thought I would first scan my email. I opened the daily email from ASCD SmartBrief, which links to interesting stories about schools across the nation. There was a story from Pontiac, Mich., with this headline: “Teacher Recovers from Attack: Police Say 3 students Assaulted Northern High instructor, who has a fractured skull, a broken rib and an injured lung.” This incident occurred because the teacher told several students to leave the boys’ restroom. They followed him to his classroom and beat him up. The president of the ...


Dear Diane, I think we took the same message from the NYC pizza event. If I called it an example of out of control bureaucracy it’s because Klein and company seem to acknowledge no limits! Which leads nicely into our discussion of limits! Yes, I think you are partly right about behavior and authority—and partly wrong. Where you and I so often end up! Reread those classics by Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well as her autobiographical account of teaching school in the late 1800s. Many of the older kids were completely "out of control," angrily waiting until the ...


Dear Debbie, Since I don’t imagine that any state or school district plans to roll back its school attendance requirements—no more than you intended your bored student to leave school and go home—I am not going to debate whether school is or is not a scary place for most kids. These days, it seems to be more a scary place for the grown-ups, because they have so little “control” over the kids, especially the adolescent ones. I do not use the word “control” to refer to corporal punishment, which has rightly been prohibited almost everywhere in this ...


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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