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Letters: Discipline in the classroom

April 20, 2013

Re "'Willful defiance' in schools," Editorial, April 16

As a principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I have a few concerns about your editorial on suspension policy.

The Times said that suspending kids from school rarely makes sense except in cases of safety. Yes, but students witnessing "willful defiance" must be able to see accountability. Teachers should provide homework for that student and have a day off from being treated with disrespect.

How wonderful it would be to follow your suggestion of setting up special classrooms and school detention centers with tutors. However, L.A. Unified has lost more than $1 billion in funding in the last six years. We're expected to do more with less.

If administrators, teachers and staff members are expected to do more, then The Times should help us find ways to work smarter, and not harder, instead of destroying the morale of some of the hardest-working professionals in L.A.

Allan Tamshen


I was happy to read that the issue of problem students is being handled with care. This brings to mind the case of John Gurdon, who won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012 for his pioneering work in nuclear transplantation. At Eton College in England, Gurdon was ranked 250th out of 250 students in biology, and not much better in other subjects.

Students should not be cast away by uncaring programs. Some of the worst turn out to be the best.

Steve Oppenheimer


As a retired schoolteacher with more than 35 years in the classroom, I cringed when your editorial described "willful defiance" as a "relatively minor infraction." Most teachers will tell you they spend much of their time maintaining order, which includes dealing with the willfully defiant.

Willful defiance reflects a student's disdain for the teacher and what is being taught. To describe it as unworthy of suspension is naive.

Marlin Sobbota



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