PPS’ undisciplined approach to discipline

PPS’ undisciplined approach to discipline

Violence is reported to still be escalating within the walls of Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) buildings. Yet district officials continue to dither in tackling it. And that’s “progressive” public policy at its worst.

It was last fall that a group of district principals said enough was enough: An official district policy implemented in June that barred them from disciplining recidivist disrupters had backfired.

But the school board rejected those principals’ concerns and stuck to a namby-pamby “progressive” exercise in “restorative practices” – the student code of conduct was thrown out.

The big problem is that those exercises have atrophied on the vine.

As the Post-Gazette reports:

“Since then, however, there is little evidence that any changes were made, and the unrest has continued, including violent incidents that have led to students, teachers and staff being injured.”

No one should be surprised. It’s what you get when there’s no student code of conduct and, thus, no discipline — more mayhem.

Interim Superintendent Wayne Walters tells the P-G that the district’s   administration has explored bolstering restorative practices, behavioral interventions and social-emotional supports as well as a number of other options to mitigate the issues, but they might not be ready as fast as some may want. 

“We have those ideas, but I would say we need to make them more robust,” Walters said. “Although some people may want an immediate fix, a lot of these spaces unfortunately are process areas. So we have to build capacity, and that takes training, that takes people.”

Sorry, Mr. Walters, but this nonsense – this undisciplined approach to discipline — now is entering its ninth month. The district does not have the luxury of sitting back and figuring out how to make the coddling of repeatedly disruptive – and sometimes violent – students “more robust.”

The student code of conduct must be restored. Now. And disrupters must be disciplined. Now.

For there can be no education without discipline. Without it, Pittsburgh Public Schools, already losing the struggle to deliver anything remotely resembling academic rigor, might as well close its doors.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).