A school for at-risk boys from kindergarten through fourth grade can work, can save boys from disadvantages over which they have no control. So it's sad to see that Prestige Prep Academy got off to such a rocky start this school year. The most important question, however, is, "What were they thinking about discipline?"
To some, discipline ranks almost as a dirty word, dredging up visions of paddling, in-school and out-of-school suspension, and stultifying robot-like behavior. To dedicated teachers, however, discipline does not envision negative environments. Consistently applied, rules to follow cause children to feel secure, both physically and mentally. They stop worrying about being poked (or worse) behind the teacher's back or stop remaining silent in fear of ridicule. The classroom becomes a place where they can relax, knowing what's coming next will be positive.
Much angst occurs over the limited vocabularies that at-risk children bring to their schooling, but just as important, maybe more so, is their lack of knowledge that rules help them learn. Physical safety is paramount; comfort comes next (food, clothing, classroom), and predictability of reward or punishment comes third. These factors must be present for any group of children, at-risk or not, to achieve.
Our hearts go out to those teachers who are trying every day to make a difference in these boys' lives. Let's pray that this much-needed school figures out the proper way forward.