By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
Fall of 1981. I was a 27 year old assistant principal of a large public high school and in charge of all student discipline. You could hear a pin drop in the halls. The teachers told me that all they had to do was to threaten a student with sending him or her to my office and the student would straighten up immediately. I learned from the best, Daniel D. Trotter, Sr., that discipline did not have to be severe but it had to be sure. And, it had to be fair and consistent. The bozos who run our public schools these days simply don’t get it. I call them EDAs (educational dumb asses). They think that they should indulge the students, coddle them, and listen to their “side” as to what happened in the classroom. They even take the student’s word over the teacher’s. This is unconscionable, unfathomable, and outright stupid and idiotic. The students who were sent to my office knew that they were going to get something for being sent there — a paddling, detention after school, suspension, etc. There was never a free trip to my office. Never. The teachers knew this but more importantly the students knew this. When the school year first started, students would say, “Let me tell you what really happened.” I would stop them in mid-track, stating: “You don’t have to tell me what happened. Mrs. Smith already wrote it down.” [At the beginning of the school year, I asked the teachers to do two things: (1) when they sent a student to see me for a disciplinary infraction, to please write me on paper at least one complete sentence telling me about the infraction and (2) close their classroom door when the bell rung and not let any student into the classroom without a note signed by me.] I would ask the student, “Do I have on a black robe?” The student would respond, “No, sir.” I then stated: “I’m not here to judge. I’m here to execute.” [These days, the nitwit administrators conduct a mini trial on each incident, ignore the write-up entirely, or just blame the teacher.] They occasionally would respond in a bewildered fashion, “You always believe the teacher.” I would casually respond: “You are exactly right. Now put that on the streets.” The word spread very quickly: “Don’t get sent to the office. You gonna get something!” Did any teacher ever get it wrong? Of course. Very occasionally. But, I met quietly with the teacher and behind closed doors. I NEVER chewed out a teacher. [Again, I learned this from my father. Always generously and publicly praise the the teachers but gently and softly criticize them in private.] The teachers diligently work their tails off when they are treated professionally. When, as an administrator, you respect the knowledge, discretion, judgment, and wisdom of the teacher, the teacher wants to work untiringly because the teacher does not want to disappoint you. If the teacher screws up, let the teacher save face by personally admitting to his or her class or privately to an individual student that he or she made an honest mistake. The students respect this honesty.
Today, the teacher’s dignity is assaulted. In disciplinary actions, the teachers are abandoned by administrators or even blamed by the administrators for the malevolent actions by the students. It is truly unconscionable the way these petty, ignorant, insecure, angry, and abusive administrators treat teachers. This is why our public schools are out of control. This is why they are war zones. The students and their parents are essentially in control. The teachers have been disemboweled. They have no authority. They have no power over the students in the classroom. The administrators will not support them. In fact, if the teacher writes up a student and sends the student to the administrator, the administrator takes umbrage at what the teacher just did and starts writing up the teacher. The administrator will put the teacher on some kind of numbskull self-improvement plan. Finally, the administration will begin the corporate execution of the teacher. This is pure evil. This kind of outrageous assault on teachers resulted in the foundation of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) in 1995. MACE doesn’t play, and administrators know this. Quite frankly, MACE scares the hell out of administrators. MACE’s mantra has always been this: “You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.” MACE protects and empowers classroom educators…one member at a time. MACE is the most aggressive and most effective teachers union in the South. MACE is for teachers teaching in tough situations. MACE. Don’t Teach Without It! Don’t wait too late to join. MACE. Mad Advocates Creating Empowerment (MACE).