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Judging School Discipline: The Crisis of Moral Authority Hardcover – October 30, 2003
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Arum's book should be compulsory reading for the legal profession; they need to recognise the long-term effects of their judgments on the climate of schools and the way in which judgments in favour of individual rights can reduce the moral authority of schools in disciplining errant students. But the author is no copybook conservative, and he is as critical of the Right's get-tough, zero-tolerance authoritarianism as he is of what he eloquently describes as the 'marshmallow effect' of liberal reformers, pushing the rules to their limits and tolerating increased misconduct. (John Dunford Times Educational Supplement 2003-11-28)
[Arum] argues that discipline is often ineffective because schools' legitimacy and moral authority have been eroded. He holds the courts responsible, because they have challenged schools' legal and moral authority, supporting this claim by examining over 6,200 state and federal appellate court decisions from 1960 to 1992. In describing the structure of these decisions, Arum provides interesting insights into school disciplinary practices and the law. (P. M. Socoski Choice 2004-04-01)
Arum's careful analysis of school discipline becomes so focused and revealing that the ideological boundaries of the debate seem almost to have been suspended. The result is a rich and original book, bold, important, useful, and--as this combination of attributes might suggest--surprising...Many years in the making, Judging School Discipline weds historical, theoretical, and statistical research within the problem-solving stance of a teacher working to piece together solutions in the interest of his students. The result is a book that promises to shape research as well as practice through its demonstration that students are liberated, as well as oppressed, by school discipline. (Steven L. VanderStaay Urban Education 2004-05-01)
[Arum's] break with education-school dogma on student rights is powerful and goes far toward explaining why so many teachers dread their students--when they are not actually fighting them off. (Heather MacDonald Wall Street Journal 2004-03-25)
Judging School Discipline provides a carefully detailed prescription for what needs to be done about one of the most critical and potentially alarming problems in our schools--the lack of student discipline. Order in schools rests not on policies like zero tolerance, but on how schools prepare their students for learning that involves trust, rules and fairness. This excellent book should be read by anyone interested in improving student learning and the institutions designed to promote it. (Barbara Schneider Contexts)
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This book should have been dedicated to all of us who ever wondered what happened to the joy of teaching, and who have hung in there hoping someone would listen to us as we fought to bring it back. Judging School Discipline should be required reading for every administrator, school board member, policy maker, and politician, as well as everyone in our legal system.
To the authors I can only say "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Perhaps your book will help decision makers finally realize they have been dancing us around a camp fire of futility, and also enlighten them to the fact they can not avoid the real problem by trying to reinvent the wheel of education.
TEACHERS, GRAB THIS BOOK.
Arum also takes at face value notions like "order," "discipline," and "misbehavior." But these are not simple ideas. They are socially constructed and are strongly informed by the politics and culture of the moment. The narrative of the "breakdown in discipline" in public schools became salient in the 1970s and 1980s in connection with other anxieties many Americans were feeling in a rapidly-changing world.
This portion is an amendment to my initial complaint and that is the fact that Arum's analysis is fundamentally flawed. Cases that he considers to be student victories are, in fact, not. Just because the plaintiff prevails, does not mean that the ruling was a victory especially when school employees are granted qualified immunity. As such, Arum would claim that a student victory occurred in Safford v Redding where a teenage girl was strip searched for pain medication and that was ruled a violation of her rights; however, no damages were awarded due to qualified immunity and the court intimated that if the school officials were looking for illegal substances, perhaps the strip search would be permissible. Since the search was instigated on hearsay, school officials only need to claim they are looking for marijuana when they want to strip search kids. What a victory!Read more ›