What About Everyone Else (A Sure Way to Shatter the System)?

The Percolating ThoughtWhat About Everyone Else (a Sure Way to Shatter the System)?

I’ve had a thought percolating through my brain off and on for some time now.  What About Everyone Else (A Sure Way to Shatter the System)? deals with a question that keeps bubbling up and demanding a response.

To Begin

It was the quote by Ed Allen, president of the American Federation of Teachers for Oklahoma City that grabbed me. It was in the October 31, 2015, article in the Oklahoman, written by Tim Willert.

Mr. Allen noted that parents and community members should “have a sense of outrage” when it comes to the daily harassment teachers and students are forced to deal with as a result of the efforts of a small, but unrelenting group of individuals.

Who Else Sees This?

My teaching career was pretty much like everyone else’s. On the other hand, there were times when I seemed to be experiencing students from a different dimension. I heard about quiet, compliant children from my colleagues who bore no resemblance to the individuals filling the chairs in my room.

What the heck was going on? How were my experiences so contrary to the classrooms my colleagues professed to be enjoying?

I discovered that the responses changed depending on who else was listening in when my questions were asked. When there were no administrators and no more than two other teachers participating, meaningful dialog was my prize.

My Trippy Little Question

My question was simple. “Who is the classroom supposed to serve?” Simple, but not easy, because it was followed with bemusement and dismay.

Now, we all know about the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974. This law specifies that no State shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin. It goes on to require school districts to take action to overcome barriers to students’ equal participation.

Yet, did you know that it also prohibits discrimination against faculty and staff?

Yep! It does.

Tell Me Something New

It’s my contention that the behaviors that teachers and 85% of our students endure every day are in violation of the EEOA of 1974.

This barrier to learning is heaped on us by the remaining 15% who cannot, or will not exhibit normal classroom behavior and disrupt our lessons to the fullest extent of their abilities.

These numbers are based on my experiences and those of my colleagues. In the average class of 30 students, there seems to be a consistent average of five who live to dominate the teacher and fellow students.

Let me draw your attention back to my original question.

“Who is the classroom supposed to serve? The law of the land clearly states that it is to serve all students.

An Upward Trend

I’ve watched the incidence of disruptive students grow over the 20 years I’ve spent in public school classrooms. Perhaps you’ve witnessed the same things my colleagues have reported. The number of disruptive students per class has grown as has the severity of the disruptions.

I can also represent with complete honesty that never once did the behaviors stop after talking with the student, the parent/guardian, or administration. The only relief was the arrival of the end of the school year.

A sense of helpless desperation sets in when you realize that the same individuals are going to show up in your room at the beginning of the new term.

  • The names change
  • The faces change
  • The particular type of disruptions change
  • The results remain the same

You and the students who have a desire to benefit from your information are short-changed by the few who have learned a different lesson. They’ve learned that they can do almost anything they choose with near to complete immunity.

Say It Ain’t So

Sorry, but I’d be lying to you if I did. If you look at the article, The Bullied Teacher you’ll discover stories like the one told by Sarah Sorge. She points out how bullying campaigns almost never mention the problem of students bullying teachers. In an attempt to get along and keep their jobs, most teachers just suffer in silence.

In a study about understanding and preventing violence against teachers, two points were noted:

  • 80% of about 3,000 K-12 teachers surveyed felt victimized by students, students’ parents or colleagues in the past year.
  • Teachers reported that students were most often behind the verbal intimidation, obscene gestures, cyberbullying, physical offenses, theft or damage to personal property.

I’ve had principals suggest that students should speak up and tell the kids disturbing them to be quiet. But, many of these disruptors operate from a point of fear.

They threaten and intimidate the teacher and get away with it, so what’s going to stop them from threatening and intimidating a classmate, or worse? Most students simply sit quietly, looking at the teacher with pleading eyes to do something, anything, to get rid of the disrupters.

A student in one of the classes I taught constantly brought lessons to a screeching halt with outbursts and accusations that had no seeming connection with reality. Whenever he left the room to go to the restroom, several students would beg me to lock him out and not let him back in.

They were not joking. No one wanted to endure his wrath. He was removed from my class the day a campus security officer heard him planning my demise. Wondering what I had done to deserve such disdain? I was the replacement for his previous year’s teacher, and bore some resemblance to her. That’s all he needed.

Question Redux

If everyone is entitled to an education, why are the majority of students having their educations hijacked?

If the law says schools must overcome the barriers to making full access happen, doesn’t that mean these out-of-control few must be compelled to behave or other options found for them?

The folks that seem to be calling the shots in public education today have made the terrible assumption that every child sitting in a classroom wants to be there, wants to do well, and has some notion of how that should be done.

Questions for the Powers That Be

What happens in the classroom when teachers have students that prevent the majority from getting the education they come to class every day hoping to receive?

What happens to those students? Do we want to tell them to live their school years in quiet desperation. That’s exactly what they’re being forced to do when well-meaning, but misguided individuals impose conditions that perpetuate the chaos in our classrooms.


Our society needs to determine just what school is all about.  They consume a huge chunk of our budgets.  Our children invest 13+ years of their lives in classrooms.

If school is about helping mold capable citizens through academic knowledge, skills, and abilities, then we need to create environments that allow that to happen.

That means not fooling around with students who can’t or won’t get their acts together.  Allowing them to impede everyone else’s progress is unconscionable.

The adults in charge need to be allowed the authority to act like adults in charge. Not like dictators, not like thugs. But, like the caring adults they are, prepared and able to guide students to successful modes of behavior. Behavior that will ensure their assimilation into society as functional adults.

If that isn’t going to happen, then we need to rethink the whole proposition of public education. The tax-paying public is not getting their money’s worth as it currently exists.

An Alternative to Teaching

If you’re a teacher and know it’s time for something different, you have lots of options.  Building your own online business may be a perfect choice for you.  If this is an idea you’ve been kicking around,  take a look at my #1 recommendation. It’s a great resource for learning how to promote yourself, your aspirations, and your special concerns and is the place where I have learned everything you see on this website.

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20 thoughts on “What About Everyone Else (A Sure Way to Shatter the System)?”

  1. Wow, you have a really good question there. Who is the classroom supposed to serve? There are many people involved because you are teaching minors (I assume). I did not become aware of the EEOA, It was out in the 70s wow. When I went to school in my little town of Gilbert, AZ. I am telling you that no one follows the rule. My teacher, bless his heart, he did not mean to, made many Asian jokes. I did not really care then and even now. I also think that it is up to the receiver as well if they want to take actions or not, does that make sense? I could have complained but I didn’t.  But, if I did I am sure the action will be made. This is an interesting subject to be questioned. I am sure the current generation such as me might probably be doing the same thing as me and this escapade will continue. 

    You raised a perfect question. I need to let this sink in. 

    • I’m so sorry you had to sit through insensitive comments from your teacher.  I hope he knows better now.  And, yes, I taught minors.  

      Not following rules is something teachers expect.  The problem occurs when students intimidate and harass during the lesson to the point that the teacher can’t teach and fellow classmates can’t learn.  

      I’m glad the article is interesting to you.  I’m also glad you joined the conversation.  I appreciate it!

  2. Hi! I fully agree with you. In a group of 30 students, there are always those 5 that exasperate us. And what works with them today may probably work no more in 2 weeks time, so we must constantly be adjusting our strategy to maintain the equilibrium we want inside the walls of the classroom. I would definitely like to check out these “alternatives to teaching” you mentioned. Thanks!

    • Constantly changing up strategies is definitely useful with most students.  However, there is always a group that seems to thrive on the turmoil they can cause, and they spend their days doing just that.  It’s an unreasonable disruption to everyone else’s day.

      Please do take a look at the alternatives.  It discusses some amazing companies that provide real options that are perfect for teachers!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  3. This is a very moving article, first of all, and not only because I, too work as a teacher (pupils ages 15-18). The challenges you present in your article are sadly, very familiar. We do have some measures in place to ‘discipline’ pupils who disrupt the classes for other students, but those measures, in my opinion, are not doing enough nor do they ensure the majority who actually wish to get an education have the conditions to do so. Truthfully, I am doing everything in my power to find another source of income and leave my teaching post. This saddens me because I love teaching, but I don’t see things improving and it’s costing me (in terms of my health) a lot more than what I get paid. 

    • You bring up a very important topic that I didn’t cover.  The constant stress this type of behavior is responsible for causes all sorts of illnesses, and ultimately pushes lots of excellent teachers out of the profession.  

      Teachers spend lots of time and money getting their teaching credentials, and keeping them current with additional coursework.  Then, they work for several years perfecting their craft.  

      It’s disheartening to think that teachers feel compelled to leave that all behind because a few children have been allowed to think they are in control.  We’ve ended up with under-age tyrants!  If we don’t fix this situation, I fear it’s not going to end well.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  4. To be honest I am not entirely sure the route to take to solve this issue. I think laws would need to be created to protect the teachers as well as the student that wants to learn. In some cases some schools are afraid to lose their students that they tolerate a lot from the students even when they clearly broke the rules.

    Teachers no longer even feel safe teaching in the classroom. I think it depends on the government as they have the power to create laws that would make such persons powerless.

    • You’ve discovered the problem!  With our current system, the students who negatively impact the classroom are often allowed too much power.  That needs to change before things will improve in any significant way.  As long as we’re too tolerant of bad behavior, we will keep getting the same unacceptable behaviors.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  5. Interesting question, who is the classroom supposed to serve? Off the top of my head I would say the students, especially when it comes to college. That over 16% of students are dominant sounds like a pretty good number universally. I agree, the percentage of students who are disruptive has been accelerating over recent history. I think it all starts with the parents, for the most part. Parents should set good examples for their children. I believe that the divorce rate has increased in recent history too, so I feel that it falls with the parents lots of times. Thanks for a great post!

    • You’re absolutely correct.  The system is supposed to serve the students.  Unfortunately, as you mentioned, the number of disruptive students has been accelerating.  And, there’s the problem.  With this current situation, no one is being served!  More parenting would definitely help.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  6. Being a teacher, I have somehow experienced some type of bullying being done to fellow students. I took action, reported the bully and recommended strongly to strip him from the roll. Mine is a company technical training center. However, I am blessed to teach Omanis and Egyptians, they have respect for teachers. There is no clear cut solution to the problems. The main thing here I believe, the problem originated from the student’s respective homes. I assume you are in an American School. I believe I know how things are going there.  Even children can sue parents. Children know their rights better than the lawyers so to speak and they used it to their maximum advantage albeit in a negative way. It is sad to know that 80% of students and teachers experience being bullied by a tiny minority of students. It is a recurring phenomenon in almost every school to some varying degree of frequency and severity. I would suggest that the bullies must have an unequivocal punishment instituted through amendments of the 1974 EEOA. It is obsolete. The realities of the present time warrant a quick and urgent revision to address bullies, what is the meaning, what are the limitations, what are actions punishable according to the offense and must be implemented with zero tolerance to all bullies at schools particularly

    • You are correct in assuming that my experiences have taken place in American Schools.  It does seem to be just as difficult in several other parts of the world, though.  It’s refreshing to hear there are still countries where teachers are able to do their jobs without threat of negative behaviors.  

      What you suggest would definitely solve most of the problems here.  However, there are groups in the U.S. who believe that any type of punishment is unacceptable.  The students use those attitudes to the fullest, which brings us back to our current situation.  We have children telling the adults how things are going to be done.  It’s an upside-down world.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  7. The problem would be solved if schools would get some good paddles, and start busting them butts again!. I guarantee you, minus the occasional fight, my public school ran like a well-oiled machine, It Works!!

    • I know some states still allow paddling. It would be interesting to see if there is a difference in states with paddling in schools and those without!

  8. We can go on and on about what the parents need to do, the video games,ect…, but I promise if each school had one person designated to go a teachers room drag the disruptive child out of class. to the office, and pop good 3-4 times maybe more. It wont take many examples and problem solved!

  9. Good thorough teaching regarding educating the young and the old is ‘Key!’ Through life we must get a clear understanding of what’s going on in out society. Daily harassment regarding teachers and students shouldn’t be tolerated. This will make any parent upset, when they don’t have the full story on the situation. 

    Growing up, when I was younger, there was never any harassment charges against teachers and/or students. Barely any gang activity, no student/teacher harassment or vise versa. Bullying now is a big thing in the school environment today. It’s sad that teachers are bullied/harassed in the system. Don’t you think there’s time for a change? More concrete roles and policies should be put in place.

    • It is definitely time for change.  You’ve mentioned several of the conditions that have made teaching difficult, and sometimes, impossible.  I think part of the problem today is that there are several groups of people who have varying ideas about how to deal with children who will not behave.  

      Until that gets sorted out, I don’t expect to see any really meaningful improvement.  One useful way for folks making the rules to understand how their policies impact classrooms is to do a day or two of incognito substitute teaching.  It won’t count if everyone there knows who they are.  

      Parents and other older relatives volunteering a day or two every month or so would also go a long way in getting things back on track.  Unless parents and other interested adults witness what’s happening first-hand, they tend to think the situation is being exaggerated.  “It can’t be that bad,” is something I have heard often.  Go see for yourself!

      Thanks for joining in the conversation; I appreciate it!


  10. Hi there,
    I think students must obey their teachers in order to learn something good. If a law can be made about this, it would be great. Because they have the fear of breaking the rules and it will take a lot to improve the students. I think it is up to the government and the government has the power to legislate.
    Thanks for a great post!

    • You are absolutely right!  If students won’t follow their teachers’ directions in the classroom, very little learning can take place.  My first choice would be for individual school districts to take care of this problem locally.  It’s much easier for solve problems at the local level than at the state or federal level.  However, this may be one issue that does call for legislation.  

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!


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