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Letter: Buffalo schools must address students’ atrocious behavior

At last, people are starting to discuss the real issues. My job entails visiting dozens of schools across Erie County, and I can testify that the outrageous behaviors of Buffalo Public School students that I witness as I make my daily rounds can in no way be construed by any criteria as normal student behavior. You’d have to see it to believe it. But most people don’t. And since they do not ever actually see these kids in action, they have a very murky and vague notion of what is really going on.

To fix any problem, you must first discover the true source of the problem. In this case, the source is not the teachers or school administration. It’s not poverty or skin color, per se, either. It is a lack of vital values and habits of the families of these students; a lack that has been promulgated through communities across the country for decades, regardless of race or income level.

These in-class disruptions stem from poor child-rearing, not unskilled teaching. When the behaviors in these households include disrespect, belligerence, violence and pandemonium, then the kids bring it all with them to school. Then the teachers suffer. And the schools suffer.

The sheer disdain and disrespect that many students have for their teachers and the basic rules of the classroom is staggering. The bedlam and belligerence is overwhelming. (Who can learn and study in such an environment? It affects everybody present.)

What these families – not the schools – need is to have some sort of government subsidized life coaching and basic civics. They need counseling and modeling. In other words, the culture of the home has to change. There are certain ways of living that will instill the behaviors conducive to good school conduct, and others that won’t.

If the families’ behavior won’t change, the students will continue to make the schools fail. It’s that simple, and that inevitable; mark my word.

Martin Penkala


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