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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Teachers don’t need mandates on handling ‘willful defiance’

Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Los Angeles
Students line up on the first day of school at Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2018.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: There is nothing new in the article on new rules limiting school suspensions that good, caring teachers haven’t been doing forever.

Spending time with troubled kids, being a role model for a problem child for other kids to see, and coming up with ways to engage these kids in positive interactions are things that I and other teachers have always done.

In my 34-year teaching career, when I did have to send a kid to the dean, it was dealt with seriously, as the administrators knew I gave my all before a kid was seen by them. I had diverse classes, I am white, and we all learned how to figure it out.

Carol Spector, Ventura

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To the editor: The fact that schools are easing up on rule breakers and suspending far fewer students for “willful defiance” is unethical when you consider the greater good.

I sympathize with the fraction of students who through no fault of their own are a burden on teachers and the vast majority of students. I also believe that with concerted effort by teachers and specialists, further disruption of classes can be prevented and some of these problem students can be helped.

But ethics require us to consider the greater good. For example, letting social predators out of prison because they can be reasonably assumed not to pose a risk to society would perpetuate a grave injustice on the majority. In the Los Angeles Unified School District (and I am not drawing an analogy here), the policy against willful defiance suspensions is unfair to most students and teachers.

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Jack Kaczorowski, Los Angeles

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To the editor: As a former teacher, principal and superintendent, I sympathize with school personnel who have to deal with disciplinary issues on a daily basis.

A teacher with, say, 30 students in a class needs the wisdom of Solomon when trying to be an effective teacher while also addressing the defiance of some students who are displaying these behaviors because of factors that may be unrelated to the activities at school.

It is no easy task for a teacher to deal equitably with two students, both of whom are displaying similar nonconforming behavior, but have different ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds.

Brian Richardson, Pacific Palisades


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