St. Thomas Aquinas Teachers’ Petition Is a Familiar Issue

By Jason Menard,

In trying to hush the teachers of St. Thomas Aquinas, the London District Catholic School Board may have inadvertently drawing much-needed attention to a long-running story.

Administrators across the city should be quaking in their boots as it’s not just at the Catholic high school where the student inmates are running the asylum. And it’s time for school boards to support their front-line workers – the teachers who are increasingly fighting a battle against their students with their hands bound by administrative lunacy. 

According to an item posted on the London Free Press Web site, the petition indicates St. Thomas Aquinas school staff didn’t feel safe as students displaying violent or threatening behaviour weren’t being punished. Odd, I believe we’ve heard this one before.

Actually, we have – in a Vox Pop article I had published in the March 12, 2011 edition of the Free Press, which I followed up on my own site a week later and alluded to some of the horror stories we’ve heard from teachers within Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School’s own walls.

Teachers are being handcuffed by an administration that’s more concerned with appearances than impact. The students know they can get away with anything and do. For example:

  • One teacher reported a student who had bragged about having a weapon in his locker. That locker was searched and the student returned to the class, where he said to the teacher, in front of all other students, “If you ever f*n do that again, I’ll punch you in the face.”
  • After reporting that response, the admin replied with “Oh, you know kids say things. Only after persistence and threats of moving up the chain did the student receive a three-day, in-office suspension.
  • Our own son, he of the now 91 reported lates/absences, was finally forced to attend detention after our repeated demands for supplemental discipline. That was back in April. Since then, he’s gone back to his old ways – racking up now frequently late for period five. Why? Because he knows the school’s just riding out the semester.

Students can’t be barred from showing up repeatedly late to class because teachers are “robbing them of an educational opportunity,” despite the fact that these students are robbing other classmates of the very same thing.

It’s time to get tough. I’m not advocating a return to corporal punishment, but it’s time to make students accountable for their actions. At Laurier, the desire is to artificially increase the pass/fail rate – regardless of whether it’s earned or not. So students can still not hand in assignments on time with no penalty. They can still attend or not attend with impunity (at least on the school side).

And parents and teachers? We’re at a loss. After all, both of us try to instill the idea that actions have real-world consequences, but high schools are neutering that message.

So what’s it going to take? Unfortunately, it looks like the only way London’s secondary school system will take action will be when a teacher gets killed by a student. And that’s too late.

There are very simple things they can do now to rectify the problem:

  • Threats of violence results in immediate suspension and police involvement;
  • Subsequent threats result in expulsion and full prosecution under the law;
  • Tardiness equals detention; missed detention equals escalating consequences up to and including expulsion;
  • Assignments must be handed in on time to be graded fully. After that, you lose marks. You don’t hand it in for a week, you get a zero.
  • And those zeroes add up to failure – it’s not a bad thing for kids to fail a course, or repeat a grade.

It’s not about taking sides teacher versus student. In fact, administrators will be supporting the good students who are being dragged down by these disruptive hooligans. And if parents don’t like it, then tough.

Actions have consequences and if we’re trying to teach our kids how to survive in the real world, it’s time to give them real-world lessons.

As St.Thomas Aquinas and Laurier are showing, it’s getting more dangerous out there – and hopefully no one has to get killed for the message to sink in.

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3 thoughts on “St. Thomas Aquinas Teachers’ Petition Is a Familiar Issue

  1. private member

    You guys need to get your fucking facts straight before you put shit like this on the internet. You give us a bad name. Yeah, okay, we had a threat from one student, and we had students break into a teachers house. Okay, maybe we should go around, and see how many people in every school in london have criminal records? Maybe we should focus more on getting drugs out of our schools? I know I could walk into any school in london and easily find at least half an ounce of cocaine, or mdma. As for the teachers that are “scared” of us, they need to grow up and realize that a few bad kids dont effect us all, and if we were going to do anything crazy, we would have already done it. [Teacher’s name withheld due to poster’s lack of understanding of libel laws] is the teacher whom received the so called ‘threat’ of a weapon, I was in his classroom with the student at the time. There was absolutely no talk of the student possesing any weapons. This teacher over reacted and had been looking for trouble with that specific student throughout the year.

    Reply
    1. Jay Menard Post author

      As much as I appreciate the depth and quality of your comment, I would suggest that you review what I actually wrote and perhaps learn how to craft an apology letter. My commentary was not restricted to St. Thomas Aquinas; in fact, as the title states it’s “a familiar issue.” My son does not go to Aquinas, yet my commentary suggests that these issues are not uncommon. Unlike people who throw out terms like “you need to get your facts straight” without understanding the initial content, I do get my facts straight. The issue is representative of situations at other schools.

      I’ll walk you through this. For example, I wrote “it’s not just at the Catholic high school where the student inmates are running the asylum. And it’s time for school boards to support their front-line workers – the teachers who are increasingly fighting a battle against their students with their hands bound by administrative lunacy…”

      Then, in suggesting that we’ve heard this before, I said… “Actually, we have – in a Vox Pop article I had published in the March 12, 2011 edition of the Free Press, which I followed up on my own site a week later and alluded to some of the horror stories we’ve heard from teachers within Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School’s own walls.”

      And then I proceeded to outline what I’ve been told by teachers. Not just what I read in the Freeps, but things I learned by doing “research.” I’m sorry you don’t agree, but it is an issue that teachers across the system have discussed.

      And I won’t even get into the teacher-with-a-hate-on-for-a-student commentary. That’s tired and it’s recycled. Students have been using that excuse to explain away detentions, poor marks, and being forced to face the consequences of their own actions.

      I’m afraid I’m confused by your “maybe we should focus on getting drugs out of our schools?” Is that a bad thing? Are you saying, “Well, I can find drugs at every school, so it’s OK”?

      And, yes, it’s only a few bad kids. I agree with you 100 per cent on that. But that’s no different than any other walk of life. Look around. It was only a few bad idiots who tarnished Vancouver’s name; it was only a few bad alleged Muslims who took their religion’s dictates in vain and have fanned hatred against innocents world-wide; it’s only a few bad white guys in pointy hats who disproportionately sully race relations. But the threats are real; whether it’s one or 100, that doesn’t diminish the fear.

      I’m glad to see those anti-bullying messages are really getting through to the youth. After all, teachers just need to “grow up” right? So if one of your friends was being harassed, threatened, and bullied, it would be OK? If it was your home that got broken into and your personal space violated, it’d be OK because it wasn’t a mob of potential students who are poised at the precipice of causing a reign of terror? No violence, or the threat thereof, is acceptable.

      You don’t like being tarred and feathered by the actions of others in your group? Then do something about it. The fact is, we all get lumped into larger groups rightly or wrongly. The actions of a few sully the impressions of the many. It’s not right, it’s not fair, but it’s life. Your presumptuous, uninformed raging against the machine does nothing to further your cause; take that energy and make an actual difference.

      And, in closing, if you’re going to start a rant with “You guys need to get your fucking facts straight” please have the courtesy of doing so yourself.

      Reply
  2. Fabio

    Student teachers are caleld “student teachers” and not “veteran teachers” for a reason. We are in a learning position as student teachers, and cooperating teachers and other teachers should know to have high standards for us, but also know that we will make mistakes along the way, as will anyone who is learning a new trade or a new job. It would be unreasonable for people to expect that student teachers will be perfect. In most cases, student teachers just are not as experienced as veteran teachers and have not been in front of the classroom as much. Of course, then, the student teachers will not be as “good” as veteran teachers.Any new job requires some sort of hands on training, and student teaching is our hands-on experience. As one progresses in that hands-on experience, the quality of work will get better. Therefore, I can see that 2nd and 4th quarter student teachers are a little better at what they do because of that extra experience. Each student teacher should be ready to be in a classroom and teach, because whether in the Master’s program or the Bachelor’s program, this is what we are being trained for. The most important learning that we do, however, is done in the classroom when we are in our “apprenticeship”.

    Reply

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