News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


So, they walked 2 miles to school . . . in the snow

Old timers who walked a great distance to school probably stayed at home on days it snowed. But there are a couple of truths from the old days that reflect how our society has changed.

There was a time when parents believed police officers rather than their children when trouble arose. And parents most often took the side of schoolteachers if their children needed disciplining.

Perhaps the changes are due to lack of respect for authority, but it could be that a better-educated society no longer sees police officers and schoolteachers as infallible.

An article in Wednesday's DAILY reflects these changes. Local school principals say they find more parents taking their child's side instead of the schools'.

Principals say they devote 75 percent of their day to disciplinary matters and that assistant principals spend 90 percent of their time maintaining discipline.

The changes are distressing unless you dig deeper. Decatur High School Principal Mike Ward says that 10 percent of the students cause 90 percent of the problems.

Some middle school officials say that most of their problems come from the older students who fall behind their age group.

Ten percent of students eating up 75 percent of their principal's day on discipline matters and 90 percent of their assistants' time might distort the relationship between most parents and teachers. Teachers may have more support than they realize.

Race also plays a role in that relationship. Decatur school board member Tommy Sykes, who is black, said the biggest complaint he hears from parents is about punishment that they do not believe is fair.

He investigates and often finds the parents didn't have all of the right information on which to base such a charge.

Thus, race helps distance the good old days from modern society, at least in the South. Blacks still mistrust the white power structure to do the right thing.

But the changed relationship with schoolteachers isn't all bad. Today's students, despite what test scores indicate, are far better educated than those who trudged 2 miles through the snow.

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