Clovis teachers: Our kids well behaved … mostly

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

Some Clovis High School and junior high teachers say school discipline is generally not a problem, a contrast from a national survey showing teachers are concerned a few troublemakers are hurting most students’ learning experiences.
Nationally, a majority of teachers say most students suffer at the expense of a few chronic offenders. Some teachers have been accused of unfairly disciplining a child and, according to the report released this week, it is driving teachers away from the profession.
The random survey of 725 middle and high school teachers and 600 parents was conducted by Public Agenda, a non-partisan research group.
According to the report, 85 percent of teachers say a few students are disrupting the whole class. CHS math teacher Sandi House said in general, there are few discipline problems at the school. When some students do get unruly their behavior does not negatively affect the other students’ learning experiences.
“If there is a problem, it is usually one or two. I have never had a case where the whole group was ugly,” House said. “If I am going to have problems in the class it is going to happen to kids who haven’t been successful in math. If I can help them be successful I don’t have problems.”
Sharon Blair, a science and journalism teacher for 14 years at Yucca Junior High, said in her second year teaching a student accused her of discriminating against him because of his Latino heritage when she asked him to be prepared for class. Nationally, 49 percent of teachers said they have been accused of unfairly disciplining a student, the report states.
Blair said that was the only time it happened, and the situation was handled easily.
“It’s a kid trying to put the fault on me when they weren’t taking responsibility,” Blair said.
Discipline appears to be taking a toll on teachers nationally. The report shows 1/3 of the teachers have considered quitting the profession — or knows a colleague who has quit — due to intolerable behavior.
“I have heard of it happening, but mainly I hear it from first-year teachers,” said CHS ninth grade teacher Felicia Chavez. “In the beginning it is hard to learn that they really have to set the guidelines from day one.”
Clovis High supports a program called “Choices” for students who have difficulty fitting in at the high school. The report shows 87 percent of teachers at least somewhat support alternative programs for chronic offenders.
“There are kids who will be better served in a different type of setting,” Blair said.
The three teachers agreed that discipline is not a problem at the schools overall and they have not considered quitting the profession due to discipline.
House said disciplining her students is simple.
“I respect them and they respect me. If you treat kids in a derogatory manner they are going to react,” House said. “It comes down to the parents and the overall community being involved with what is going on.”