We have built a different kind of public school system here, which is every bit as challenging as it sounds, but every bit as rewarding as well. Traditional discipline is always unfair and racially biased, and so our focus these days on Access and Equity is essential to who we are.

But yes, there are always those, adults and kids, students and teachers, whose actions fall far outside the acceptable no matter what the group. And in this case solutions are needed. We have — as do most systems — school options for those who cannot handle “school” — though importantly, these are not less engaging or less based in our theories of children.

90 years ago Father Flanagan famously said, “There is no such thing as a bad boy.” But how do we get there?

Maybe first with those Seven Pathways, then with expectations for adult behaviors, then by changing curriculum, then by changing spaces, then by not sweating the small stuff (seating, eating, most noise), then by truly embracing every learner.

What we find is that the more freedom we offer, the fewer discipline issues we encounter. True for kindergarten, true for 12th grade.

  • Ira Socol

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