A scathing series of reports documenting a breakdown of discipline in Bibb County schools is sending waves through the community.
The five month investigation by The Telegraph of Macon indicates that serious disciplinary infractions are going unreported or unaddressed because administrators have made it more difficult for teachers to seek harsh punishments, like suspension.
Tanner Pruitt, a recently-graduated student activist and blogger for the Southern Education Desk, says the reports confirm his experience at Bibb County Central High School.
“We have a highly disadvantaged population in the schools who need help, and we have to give it to them," Pruitt said. "But discipline works. And we have to have discipline in our schools, and that’s something we’re losing because we’re taking a very soft approach.”
School officials have yet to respond to this round of reports, but have in the past argued for keeping troubled students in the classroom as long as possible.
Some unnamed teachers quoted by the Telegraph said they feel overburdened by the paperwork they have to fill out before administrators will act to discipline students. (No current teachers agreed to have their names attached to their comments.)
Not everyone is sympathetic to that complaint.
Daylon Martin taught in Bibb County schools until 2010, and says the paperwork is necessary to keep teachers from sending kids out of class before first trying to correct bad behavior.
"'Little Johnny spoke out today in class,'" Martin says, setting up a hypothetical situation. "As opposed to just sending him to the office, let’s talk about redirection. 'Ok little Johnny, before you speak out, raise your hand.'"
Martin says some comaplaints from teachers may be motived by laziness.
"I hope it’s not happening, but in every school you have some teacher who likes to sit back, and may not want to have a classroom full of students today," Martin said.
The Telegraph also quotes multiple unnamed teachers as saying their superiors actively discouraged them from reporting serious incidents.