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Several attempts have been made to raise student performance and relationships at school. However, stakeholders have ignored what sociologists believe to be the cause of discontent and poor performance in school—authority relationships between students and school administrators. Successful reforms in educational institutions require several approaches so as to achieve desired results. The following review of five articles will strive to identify what is required to improve relationships and performance at school.
In his article, Improve Relationship to Improve Student Performance, Richard Arum raises the issue of the tradition of teachers “moral authority.” He observes that the attitudes exhibited by students do not align with educational achievements or outcome (Arum, 2011, p. 10). Previously, teachers had the moral obligation to punish students based on their expert judgment compared to predetermined consequences. However, this has changed over the years and teachers have experienced legal threats from affected parents. Arum believes that this trend has undermined the moral authority of educators. As a result, Arum notes that parents as well as guardians see discipline by teachers as unfair and therefore, not legitimate.
Arum does not argue that students do not have legal rights. However, his thoughts are based on the fact that students are likely to take less interest in class work if they do not believe their teachers can make judicious decisions (Arum, 2011, p. 9). A teacher is forced to take further corrective actions whenever a student does not accept the teacher moral authority to discipline them for errand behavior in class.
Arum seems to praise teachers who know their subjects well and are able to teach with engaging methods. This is because, according to him, students who had confidence in these teachers moral authority would accept their disciplinary intervention. This two-way approach to solving problems is important in effective learning. In conclusion the author emphasizes that legal redress have slowed down educational performance because these measure have challenged teachers moral authority in the eyes of the other stakeholders—students and their parents/guardians. His arguments are very vital in shaping behavior of concerned parties. His arguments are helpful in knowing that when the moral authority of a teacher is in question, then all parties must sit together and try to discuss their differences in an open and transparent manner.
Darryn Cathryn Beckstrom defines cyberbullying as an activity that “involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is indented to harm others” (Beckstrom, 2010, p. 286). The author explains that cyberbullying as opposed to traditional bullying is a new trend among children in school and that it is likely to continue. The article explains the basics characteristics of cyberbullying and current efforts that have been put in place to prevent the continued behavior. According to the article, girls are more inclined to engage in cyberbullying than boys contrary to traditional roles of bullying. In addition, the author also explains various constitutional challenges that cyberbullying laws are poised to encounter especially when applied to school going children. As students engage in cyberbulying, partly because they are able to do so without fear of parents ‘catching’ them, the author proposes that increasing parental awareness on the prevalence and harm of this behavior is important in minimizing cases of cyberbullying.
In conclusion, the author specifies that recent laws enacted to prevent cyberbullying are have a potential of increasing conflicts in schools especially when trying to discipline students for cyberbullying activities done outside the school setting. The author proposes that legislation on cyberbullying should allow teachers to discipline students for on-campus cyberbullying and not for off-campus activities. This is aimed at protecting students’ First Amendment Rights as well as shielding school districts from potential lawsuits.
The discussion is an eye-opener especially in understanding the rights of the students under the First Amendment Rights. The set laws must guide any disciplinary action. If not, then the cases that result for executing discipline for off-campus behavior can be disheartening to the teachers. The proposals are crucial for me as a teacher as well as others stakeholder in understanding the various methods of minimizing cyberbullying.
Salgado, in his article Protecting Student Speech Rights While Increasing School Safety advocates for a balancing of school safety and the rights of students to express themselves, although it is a daunting task as the author explains. Though implementation of an effective approach, this can be achieved. However, this can only be realized after determining whether speech is on-campus or off-campus. This is because educators will be able to focus on on-campus speech, while leaving off-campus speech to law enforcement agencies (Salgado, 2005, p.1401).
Salgado posits that violence in schools across the US has brought enormous fear leaving teachers and school administrators in desperate conditions. They are supposed to look for clues similar to those exhibited by previous school shooters. He says that due care is required and school administrators must be empowered to take appropriate actions whenever they perceive that danger is imminent. As the author shows, indeed history is full of evidence that inaction or unattended issues and warning signs can turn into disaster.
The freedom of speech of a student in learning institutions is less than his freedom outside the school’s environment. As several tragedies across the US show, speech can be curtailed, but violence is more likely to exacerbate. Instead of reacting to violent behavior by trampling on students’ rights of speech, the most effective method will enhance speech and evaluation of any clues to violence that surface during communication (Salgado, 2005, p. 1408). According to Salgado, expelling a deviant student is not a good solution, instead he advocates for provision of counseling and psychological assistance to the affected student. Therefore, effective identification of warning sign is crucial in assisting educators and law enforcement agencies respond to the problem by providing help and counseling. This minimizes violent outcomes.
Jaffe & D’Agostino (2011) explore bullying in public school and role of teachers and rights of students under First Amendment. The authors note that school heads have a difficult job of maintaining a favorable environment for learning. Due to numerous threats of legal suits, they are supposed to balance student’s First Amendment to free speech while at the same time ensuring that the environment is safe to education and learning. As the authors explain, students have a right to receive education and the teachers have a duty “to force students not to interfere with that right” (Jaffe & D’Agostino, 2011, p. 407). However, the duty placed on teacher will require that they prevent certain speech, if it is aimed at injuring others. This indeed is a difficult job for the educators.
According to the authors, the issue of cyberbulying is a complex one. They assert that courts should be forced to retreat from their overly legalistic approach in applying the First Amendment to school-age children. Courts should allow a broader approach in dealing with cyberbulying. As the problem of bullying is common in schools across America, educators must be provided with necessary tools to limit free, yet detrimental, speech rights of bullying others. The authors conclude by noting that this responsibility is for the school administrators and states, if not then the courts will be forced to enforce that legal responsibility.
The last article by Raskauskas & Modell (2011) explores students with disabilities in the learning institutions. The Article outlines measures that can be used to modify existing anti-bullying programs to include students with disabilities. Student with disabilities also need a favorable environment while seeking education and learning. The authors posit that current program that deal with anti-bullying have ignored students with special needs. In their opinion, existing programs should be modified to include students who are disabled. Indeed, the key to success in any anti-bullying program is the application of “whole school” approach. This approach creates an environment that is safe for students to report cases of bullying and mistreatment. This approach involves “everyone associated with school about bullying and their role in changing that culture” (Raskauskas & Modell, 2011). This approach must therefore; include parents, bullies, and students with disabilities teachers, the community, and the federal government. However, the authors sadly note that students with disabilities have not been involved in many programs. The authors, as a result, propose a needs assessment modification so as to include student with disabilities in anti-bullying campaign. The content of this article is applicable in the school environments as students with disabilities must be cared for as they seek education.
In conclusion, it is clear from these articles that all is not well in institutions of learning. Behavior must be regulated to assure performance in schools. However, a delicate balance is required while providing disciple to prevent law suit or retaliation from disgruntled parties. All stakeholders, including the disabled students must be involved in all programs that aim at instilling discipline in school. If not discontent, errand behavior, law suits and mistrust will continue. The result will be costly lawsuits, failure in educational standards, and performance as well.