Discipline and School Safety
In poll after poll, parents, teachers and school staff say that school safety and order are their highest school priorities. Educators know that other efforts to improve schools will not be effective without an orderly and safe learning environment.
Fortunately, public schools are among the safest places for children. Studies show that of all the violent crimes involving children, only a very small fraction occur in school. We must never feel comfortable, however, resting on the knowledge that schools are relatively safe environments for students and teachers. We must constantly strive to make the school the safest environment possible. The students we have been charged to educate and the school staff the AFT represents deserve nothing less.
Schools can reduce the level of student aggression simply by improving the orderliness of their classrooms. Working closely with teachers on students' behavior management skills in the early grades can yield substantial future benefits, including a reduction in both the dropout rate and the incidence of crime.
To continue good behavior developed in the earliest grades, schools must maintain a safe and secure environment. Teachers and school staff, through their unions, can play a key role in establishing effective discipline and safety policies, and can advocate for building facilities that are both safe and conducive to learning. The AFT has identified the following essential elements to ensure that our schools are safe and orderly:
- A discipline code that is supported by the entire school community;
- Research-based prevention and intervention strategies;
- Implement programs to modify student misbehavior;
- Establish alternative placements for chronically disruptive and violent students;
- Develop school safety plans; and
- A commitment to high standards for safe buildings.