At the last School Board Meeting, the board voted to fire (or “not re-elect”, whatever the proper verbiage might be) Patricia Crespo, one of the assistant Vice Principals at the High School. Crespo had been there for just a year, and according to news reports she was very popular with Latino students. Today Latino students at the High School came out to protest the firing, hinting perhaps that there were racial motivations at play. Crespo is one of very few Latino/Spanish-speaking administrators, after all.
Well, I don’t know why Crespo was fired (my husband is in the School Board but he does not share any confidential information with me) but I have heard that she was disliked by many teachers for a lack of professionalism and the fact that she is not a strong advocate of holding students accountable for their actions. According to one news story “Crespo said she had some “really difficult” discipline cases this year and guessed that dissatisfaction about how she handled some cases led to the school’s decision not to rehire her.” I have no idea what those cases may be, but I have heard stories about SLHS kids showing up randomly at classes, being disruptive and disrespectful to teachers and the administration not intervening to preserve the learning environment. Hopefully, whoever replaces Ms. Crespo will be someone who will be more ready to deal with students who cause problems.
Discipline at school has become a pet issue of mine ever since I visited my daughter’s 2nd grade class and noticed how disrupted a learning environment it was. While most kids were engaging with the teacher, there were a couple who kept talking and moving about, disrupting the activity time and time again. It made me wonder how much class time is lost, all in all, by teachers having to deal with students who for whatever reason are not able to sit down and do their work.
Now, I’m not unsympathetic to the potential reasons why a child would be unable to behave properly in class: it could be anything from having an empty belly to needing attention he doesn’t have at home, to having a severe psychological or developmental disorder. I also know that, statistically, children of color are disciplined more by teachers than white children (and we see this holding true in the justice system as well) – though as almost all students in SLUSD are children of color, I don’t know that this is really a fact here. But I don’t think that letting children get away with disruptive behavior benefits anyone. Whether we like it or not, in order to live in a society we need to learn to control our behavior and if parents and teachers let us get away with anything, we are not going to develop the skills that let us be productive as adults. And we are not going to let anyone else learn them either. I am the first to say that we need to come up with more useful types of discipline solutions but they need to be solutions that work for everyone: teachers and students alike.