My recent column on suspensions sparked a lot of debate, so this week I will respond to some of the criticisms. I expected that many would oppose the position that suspensions are needed to protect the learning of innocent students who have to endure the misbehavior. What I did not expect was how divergent the two sides are. Those against suspensions uniformly complained that it makes a child feel unwanted and puts him on an inexorable path to prison. They make little or no mention of the students he disrupts. It is dismaying to see our perspectives so far apart that we aren’t even trying to solve the same problem anymore. 

You are an idiot! Your type of attitude is why we have the school-to-prison pipeline.

The “school-to-prison” pipeline is a myth which claims that it is the suspension itself--not the student’s bad behavior--that causes kids to end up in jail. As most reasonable people realize, students demonstrating aberrant and reckless behavior in school are more likely to exhibit aberrant and reckless behavior in life, which will eventually land them in prison. There is nothing inherent in a suspension that inspires students to want to commit felonies. In fact, the biggest encouragement to crime and misbehavior is impunity.

There is a much better way to avoid the “pipeline” you imagine: teach good behaviors, expect good behaviors and provide swift, reasonable consequences along with positive guidance to students who behave inappropriately.

Providing a consequence that YOU think is negative as the only solution to a problem behavior is hoping that punishment will work. Simply punishing a behavior doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t teach the person anything to do instead. 

You are incorrect. Punishing a bad behavior does make it go away if you are using punishment the right way. The punishment alone does not need to teach what the student should do instead; that’s what teachers and principals must do. Why do people think that discipline is an either/or proposition? Either we punish them or we talk to and nurture them? That’s a false choice. The most effective discipline does both of those things. It provides convincing consequences along with counseling and encouragement.  

The thing I disagree with is saying "Incarcerating criminals makes innocent people safer." I'd add the word "violent" before the word "criminals" because our prison system has many folks incarcerated for what are essentially victimless crimes.

I respectfully disagree. The “Broken Windows Theory” basically says that if you let little crimes go, they tend to mushroom into bigger crimes. Schools with the most severe disciplinary problems generally don’t bother addressing through consequences smaller infractions like classroom talking or dress code violations. They believe they don’t have the resources to deal with those things because there are bigger fish to fry. In reality, they are causing their fish to grow that big by failing to address the smaller-scale impunity for rule-breaking.

What an articulate piece of hot garbage. Educators that cry and whine about their job apparently don't fully comprehend their lasting impact on the students that they teach. SUCK IT UP! Life is unfair; quit trying to hang the hardships of your profession on a group of people whose minds have not fully formed. 

Student misbehavior actually isn’t the greatest “hardship” of teaching. The greatest hardship for many is the contemptuous, unsupportive hostility of a handful of hyper-selfish parents. But thank you for calling my column “articulate.”

I have a disruptive child that has been sent home from school and suspended. He is incredibly smart. Not only did I warn the teacher of his intelligence, but I offered to provide extra work more on his level to do once he finishes his class work in order to keep busy. However, we were told "no." Now we struggle with behavior when the real problem is that he is bored. 

How kind of you to “warn” the teacher of your child’s devastating intelligence. “Boredom,” while a common excuse, is not a common cause of bad behavior. I was bored 90 percent of my class time in school, yet I rarely got into trouble. Most graduates probably agree. I am all for keeping students engaged, but let’s not pretend that boredom means a student must sexually assault his peers or punch his classmates in the face.

You should be ashamed for having this opinion and making it seem like these children will be in prison in the near future. It is this mentality that will never allow for change in our schools. 

On the contrary, I believe that holding students accountable for their behavior by providing sensible consequences will actually help prevent them from going to prison one day. It seems to be the people who are against consequences who think that consequences lead to prison. So you might want to check your stereotypes. 

It’s obvious you don’t care about kids!

It is sad to me when people think that applying discipline to badly behaving students means teachers “don’t care” about them or don’t love them. As any parent can attest, when you have children, you must discipline them. Otherwise, you end up with selfish, spoiled, indolent children who grow up to become selfish, spoiled, indolent adults. Love and discipline must work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for children. Discipline without love is a daydream, but love without discipline is a nightmare.

Jody Stallings has been an award-winning teacher in Charleston since 1992. He has served as Charleston County Teacher of the Year, Walmart Teacher of the Year, and CEA runner-up for National Educator of the Year. He currently teaches English at Moultrie Middle School and is director of the Charleston Teacher Alliance.To submit a question or receive notification when new columns are posted, please email him at JodyLStallings@gmail.com. For easy sharing and notifications, follow Teacher to Parent on Facebook: facebook.com/teachertoparent.