Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I read, with great interest, the story about the Tinian High School seniors who went on a class trip to Guam and were later suspended for drinking and smoking on the trip. I found the reaction of the parents to be both typical and disgusting. There was a time in the not so distant past when a teacher or administrator could tell a parent their child was acting in an inappropriate fashion and the teacher or administrator could be confident the parent would be a parent and would discipline their child at home. Those days are, sadly, long gone. As a high school teacher here at Saipan Southern High School, I have very few disciplinary problems in my classes. I attribute this to having good kids, good administrators, and above all, the good fortune of teaching only high school seniors, who are almost all over or near the age of 18, otherwise known as legal adulthood. On those rare occasions there is an issue, experience has told me to fully expect every parent to act like the late Johnny Cochran and pull every string under sun and moon to see that their child's lack of discipline extends beyond home and to the school. In short, most parents, as shown in this Tribune story, try to find a way to see that their little Johnny or Jane goes unpunished. This routine behavior sickens me as both an educator and citizen. I seriously doubt there is a single teacher or administrator on island who gets any kick out of disciplining a student. Discipline is a tedious and unfortunate aspect to the teaching profession -- one exacerbated by an increasing lack of parenting in our culture. Clearly if the teacher/chaperone acted in the manner described in the Tribune story, then the teacher was acting irresponsibly. It should also be noted that teachers island-wide take all kinds of risks to supervise often immature students in sports, clubs and activities -- usually, if not always, for no extra pay and often with out-of-pocket expenses. In this case, people should also be aware that these weren't fifth graders on this trip. These were high school seniors, which means 17 to 20 years of age. They are people one month away from entering the workforce, college or the military. The average age of soldiers killed in action in Vietnam was 19, but apparently some Tinian 18 year olds can't exercise a little control without a teacher working on his or her spring break watching their every move. The drinking age in Guam is 18, which is widely known, so any engaged parent should have advised their kids not to breach the parents' trust and take advantage of that fact. So to the parents crying about their kid losing out on National Honor Society, or being suspended, why not be a parent and teach your children that there are consequences to breaking rules, which is a far more important lesson than losing one more month in NHS or avoiding a week out of school on suspension by trying to convince the principal that 17/18 year olds shouldn't be responsible for their actions. Quit trying to blame some teacher with innuendo about what a 17 or 18 year old or older did with beer on a class trip and offering a "Johnny did it, too" defense you wouldn't accept from your six year old. Be a parent!