Jackson, MS: "Dealing with problem students is not a task for teachers"; more counselors needed

Dec 22, 2017, Jackson, MS, Clarion Ledger: Schools must change the way they deal with problem students Teachers generally agree that one of their biggest challenges is discipline in the classroom — keeping kids in class under control and on task. When a classroom is disrupted, every kid in the class is negatively affected. In fact, a single disruptive child can cost an entire classroom hours of effective instruction.... Disruptive kids are not necessarily “bad” kids. Kids are just young humans. They have the same sorts of problems as adults, plus a special set that most adults have left behind. They have divorced parents, blended families, single-parent homes, absentee fathers or mothers, parents with substance abuse problems, parents who are in prison.... And yet we expect them to concentrate on their classroom behavior and homework. Sometimes it’s just too much. Kids become overwhelmed and develop mental or emotional health disorders. … Having a mental health problem does not mean a kid is “crazy” or inappropriate behaviors cannot be changed. But it does mean that our traditional approaches of in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension or alternative schools will not work for kids with these diagnoses. If we are truly going to reduce the incidence of disruptive behavior in schools, we have to change the way we deal with problem students. … School counselors are professionals and should be treated as such. We need more of them, and they need backup referral resources for difficult cases. In most cases, dealing with problem students is not a task for teachers. It is a job for those who are trained to do it — our school counselors.