Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Teacher Retention

Teacher Retention

Florida has the fourth largest school system in the nation. The Sunshine State has 67 school districts with more than 3,815 public schools that served over 2,535,155 students during the 2002-2003 academic year. Florida’s public school teachers are joined by counselors, media specialist, and school psychologists for a total of 157,981 instructional staff members.
Today, Florida has a greater demand for highly qualified teachers than any other time in history. Not only is teaching attracting a smaller share of the most skillful college graduates than in years past, it is also having trouble holding academically talented persons who do become teachers (Florida Department of Education, 2005). A disproportionate number of brighter teachers leave the classroom within a few years of entering, while their less qualified peers remain in the profession (Stager, 2000). This increased awareness has raised questions as to what factors contribute to the reasons teachers leave the teaching profession within the first five years of teaching.

The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 25 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching to pursue alternative careers. Another 25 percent leave because they are either not interested in teaching any longer or they are dissatisfied with the career. Forty percent of those who leave the profession stated that they would not return to teaching (Darling-Hammond, 1997). Darling-Hammond (1997) also noted that between 1988 and 1994, teacher attrition rates increased from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent. This increase was, in part, a result of a greater number of retirements and also a result of the continuing high rates of beginning teacher attrition.

Stempien and Loeb (2002) reported that the occupational field of special education has been particularly vulnerable to losing its well-trained professional staff. Academic preparation and training of these teachers is costly and time-consuming, and replacing them is difficult. Additional studies conducted by Stempien and Loeb (2002) have focused on stress and job dissatisfaction as explanatory factors in motivating people to abandon their career. The connection between job stress and satisfaction has particularly been observed within special education and primary education (Eichinger, 2000).

Ponessa (1997) found that “as many as 50 percent of new teachers leave the teaching profession within the first 5 years of employment.” In response to the teacher shortage, needy school districts have sought various avenues which will allow teachers to be placed in a classroom more quickly. Many districts have created emergency and/or alternative certification programs of their own, eliminating the need for potential teachers to enroll in university-based teacher preparation programs which are considered more labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. This process has had a negative impact on the teacher shortage (Harrell, Leavell, Tassel, & McKee, 2004).

According to The National Center for Educational Statistics (1997) most U.S. corporations expect 6% of their employees to quit each year. For example if a district looses 6% of its 1,000 teachers making $25,000 per year, a replacement bill of approximately $375,000 is generated from this turnover. Respectfully, this money would be welcomed in other budget lines such as programs for retaining talented personnel (Norton (1999).

With the arrival of the 21st century, it is increasingly clear that schools must become more successful with a wide range of learners if more citizens are to acquire the sophisticated skills they need to participate in a knowledge based society (Kelly, 2004). It is increasingly clear that educator’s expertise and effectiveness is critical to the success of the American education. Ingersoll (2002) explained the kind of pedagogy needed to help students think critically, create, and solve complex problems as well as to master ambitious subject-matter content is much more demanding than that needed to impart routine skills.

While accurate measures of teacher attrition are important if school systems, administrators, and potential teachers are to effectively plan for the coming years, the need to identify factors which cause teachers to leave the profession is perhaps of greater importance. There is also an imminent danger that teaching will become a revolving door job and not a long term profession as experienced high quality teachers disappears from the classroom and the educational system all together (Darling-Hammond, 2002). However, in spite of the finding of this report additional research and information is needed to determine why teachers leave the teaching profession within the first 5 years of employment.


Brickman, L., & Rog, D. J. (1998). Handbook of applied social research methods.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.

Brock, B. L., & Grady, M. L. (2001). From first year to first rate: Principles guiding beginning teachers, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Darling-Hammond, L., & Sclan, E.M. (1997). Who teaches and why: Dilemmas of building a profession for twenty-first century schools. Handbook of research on teacher education, New York: 2, 67-101.

Darling-Hammond, L., & Youngs. (2002). Defining “highly qualified teachers”. What
Does “scientifically-based research” actually tell us? Educational Researcher, 37, 13-25.

Eichinger, J. (2000). Job stress and satisfaction among special education teachers: Effects of gender and social role orientation. International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education, 47, 399-412.

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accountability: Department of Educational Press. Retrieved November 23, 2005,

Gay, L. R., & Airasian, P. W. (2002). Educational research: Competencies for analysis
and application. New York: Prentice Hall.

Harrell, P., Leavell, A., Tassel, F. V., & McKee, K. (2004). No teacher left behind:
Results of a five year study of teacher attrition. Journal of Action in Teacher Education, 26, 47-59.

Ingersoll, R. M. (2002). Holes in the teacher supply bucket. Journal of School
Administrator, 59, 42-43.

Ingersoll, R. M., Han, M., Bobbit, S. (1995). Teacher supply, teacher qualifications, and
teacher turnover: 1990-91 (NCES 95-744). Washington, DC: National Center for
Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

Kelly, S. (2004). An event history analysis of teacher attrition: Salary tracking, and socially disadvantaged schools. Journal of Experimental Education, 72, 195-220.

National Center for Educational Statistics. (1997). Job satisfaction among America’s teachers: Effects of workplace conditions, background, characteristics, and teacher compensation. NCES 97471.

Norton, M. S. (1999). Teacher retention: Reducing costly teacher turnover. Journal of
Contemporary Education, 70, 52-55.

Ponessa, J. (1997). High teacher attrition grabs attention in North Carolina. Journal of Educational Week, 15, 90-93.

Shen, J. (1997). Teacher retention and attrition in public schools: Evidence from SASS91. Journal of Educational Research, 91, 81-88.

Sher, J. P. (1983). Education in rural America: A Reassessment of Conventional
Wisdom. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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plan to mandate school district mergers throughout the state. Raleigh, NC: North
Carolina's School Boards Association.

Stager, G. S. (2000). The next big problem. Attracting and keeping good teachers. Journal of Curriculum Administrator. 56, (59).

Stempien, L. R., & Loeb, R. C. (2002). Differences in job satisfaction between general education and special education teachers: Implications for retention. Journal of Remedial and Special Education, 23, 58-67.



Diversity and inclusion is a key business imperative for any organization. The rich tapestry of our society reflects the diverse nature of our global business. In our setting it is essential that we understand the cultures, customs, and communities of our children.

In our efforts to create and develop champions to advocate for and nurture social justice issues, inter-culturalism, and ethical citizenship, we look to the workplace as the strongest leverage point for the efficacy of our work. Workplace diversity is not only a wellspring for organizational creativity, energy and innovation. It is the foremost potential source for the autonomous critical thinking and civic toleration skills that are vital to both businesses and the societies we live within. Globalization is proving to be a two-edged sword. The cutting edge benefits of lower-priced, high quality products and broader options for materials and resources are counter-pointed with the ragged edge of relentless disenchantment and increased anxieties brought about by being required to exist in an incessantly shifting landscape with a constantly expanding world of faces, voices, and ideas.

Educational and socialization processes, largely designed for a less precarious, more homogeneous world that is fast disappearing, fail to equip the vast majority with effective skills in confronting this disenchantment and anxiety constructively. This failure leads to renewed conflicts as issues of citizenship and justice become distorted. Once students leave formal schooling, where do most adults turn to improve upon and increase understanding and intercultural interaction skills? Work is the primary venue where adults spend most of their out-of-home lives. Work is where socialization and education continues after primary schooling. The pursuit of voice, communicative competencies, and constitutional citizenship skills grounded in ethics and justice has become critical. Crucially, there is a disheartening inadequacy in the resources, tools, advice, and literature available to those internal and external professionals who are struggling with these new and increasingly complex diversity and cultural issues as they arise in the workplace and in society.

In spite of vast strides made within many companies, problems and difficulties arising from diversity among the employee population continue to trouble numerous firms, including several who have been recognized for their commitment to creating a diverse workplace. In many organizations, diversity efforts are only beginning to focus beyond the most prevalent concentration on issues of race and gender to include other aspects of identity such as sexual orientation, age, management styles, and physical differences, much less the more complicated issues emerging today. And yet, things appear to be getting even more complicated. As we move further into the 21st century, we are seeing previously latent aspects of employee identity such as language, ethnic assertiveness, xenophobia and religious fundamentalism become more visible and more vocal. With issues from multimillion dollar lawsuits to persistent marginalization and fragmentation unabated, it is clear that we have far to go before all of the potential benefits of a truly inclusive organization can be realized by the vast majority of businesses, and hence to the societies that we work and live within.

It is imperative that we move beyond the civil rights model of oppressor-oppressed to embrace pluralism informed by a relevant ethical framework. Therefore, my aim would be to educate, train, and certify a new generation of diversity, intercultural, and multicultural champions. I would provide practitioners with an alternative source of education, certification, and collaboration for their diversity and intercultural praxis such that workplace and societal issues of ethics, justice, pluralism, humanism, identity, autonomy, and dialogue, including communicative competencies, are made central. This alternative source would entail advocating a socially responsible stakeholder balance between employee autonomy and customer, supplier, financial, and community responsibilities. I would also provide orientations that would involve the latest theory informing the best practice methods directed at workplace intercultural social justice and intercultural dialogue.

Against the Odds

Strong Leaders

The person that I consider to be the best leader that I have ever worked with is a strong African American Female that has retired and now resides in Mobile Alabama. She was a principal in a small rural district. Dr. C really understood the meaning of diversity and the true terminology behind the phrase melting pot. She had a true passion for children. She understood their needs and spent countless hours of her personal time supplying entire families with the basic tools for survival. She also acknowledged that leadership is available to anyone that is willing to set goals and follow them. Dr. C. displayed numerous positive characteristics.
· Honest
· Courageous
· Supportive
· Inspiring
· Intelligent

She set the atmosphere in the entire school. She gave respect to all staff members and received respect back. Mrs. C. earned her respect because she was honest, courageous, and supportive. She was worthy of our trust. Her voice never changed with crowd. She stood for what was right and in the best interest of the staff and the students. For example, a parent became very displeased with Mrs. C. because of the dress code. The parent would daily send her students to school out of dress code. She would also call county office and complain about the dress code.

One morning after the students arrived to school out of dress code Mrs. C. contacted the parent and asked that she come in for a conference. This made the parent irate. She cursed, screamed, and demanded that her children did not need to follow the dress code. After the parent finished her show, Mrs. C. kindly asked her to come into the conference room where the teacher and assistant principle was waiting. After listening to the concerns of the parent as a team they began to brainstorm and come up with strategies to help the parent. By the end of the conference the parent was calm and a new member of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

Mrs. C. was also very inspiring and forward looking. She was positive about the future and looked to each day with enthusiasm. A leader must be able to communicate the vision in ways that encourage us to sign on for the duration. Mrs. C. made the context of the vision more meaningful. She communicated with positive words and actions. To get extraordinary things completed in this day and age leaders must inspire optimal performances from all stakeholders. Mrs. C. was concerned about the future and displayed a distinct direction that continued to travel upward (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). Even thou the road became rough on several occasions with parents, students, and staff members she stayed on the visionary path and held to the dream of high expectations.

A team approach began to shift throughout the entire school creating a nourishing environment for staff members, parents, and students. I no longer looked at Mrs. C has just the principal. As I recap on the characteristics of this great Leader I realize that she was the glue that held the team together. She possessed the power to break or make the school. I am proud to say that she chose to embrace the school and lead with dignity and inspiration.

In conclusion, I have also had the unfortunate opportunity to work with several weak leaders. They would start with a vision and end with a divided staff and a failing school grade. Clicks would form within the staff driving outsiders to retreat to other schools, mostly outside of the district. One particular leader was so weak until certain staff members could use specific facial expressions and she would change her immediate thought. Only selected butt kissers were allowed to utilize the lines of communication. However, she was later removed by the district office and demoted to a guidance counselor.


Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stodgill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Clawson, J. G. (2006). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface (3nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Kouzes, J. , Posner, B. (2002). The leadership challenge (3rded.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.


Pitfalls of Transformational Leadership

The idea of transformational
leadership was first developed by James McGregor Burns in 1978 and later extended by Bernard Bass as well as others. Transformational Leadership starts with the development of a vision, a view of the future that will excite and convert potential followers. The Transformational Leader thus takes every opportunity and will use whatever works to convince others to climb on board the bandwagon. In order to create followers, the Transformational Leader has to be very careful in creating trust, and their personal integrity is a critical part of the package.

Transformational Leaders are always visible and will stand up to be counted rather than hide behind their troops. They show by their attitudes and actions how everyone else should behave. They also make continued efforts to motivate and rally their followers, constantly doing the rounds, listening, soothing and enthusing. It is their unswerving commitment as much as anything else that keeps people going, particularly through the darker times when some may question whether the vision can ever be achieved. If the people do not believe that they can succeed, then their efforts will flag. The Transformational Leader seeks to infect and re-infect their followers with a high level of commitment to the vision.

One of the methods that Transformational Leader uses to sustain motivation is in the use of ceremonies, rituals and other cultural symbolism. Small changes get big hurrahs, pumping up their significance as indicators of real progress. Overall, they balance their attention between action that creates progress and the mental state of their followers. Perhaps more than other approaches, they are people-oriented and believe that success comes first and last through deep and sustained commitment.
While it is the Transformational Leader that seeks overtly to transform the organization, there is also a tacit promise to followers that they also will be transformed in some way, perhaps to be more like this amazing leader. In some respects, then, the followers are the product of the transformation.

Transformational Leaders are often charismatic, but are not as narcissistic as pure Charismatic Leaders, who succeed through believing in themselves rather than believing in others. One of the traps of Transformational Leadership is that passion and confidence can easily be mistaken for truth and reality. While it is true that great things have been achieved through enthusiastic leadership, it is also true that many passionate people have led the charge right over the cliff and into a bottomless chasm. Self interested leaders can place the organization at risk. Just because someone believes they are right, it does not mean they are right. Therefore the parameters of the leader must be clear.

Transformational leadership requires all members to be in tuned with the same culture and share similar values. Paradoxically, the energy that gets people going can also cause them to give up. Transformational Leaders often have large amounts of enthusiasm which, if relentlessly applied, can wear out their followers. Transformational Leaders also tend to see the big picture, but not the details, where the pitfalls often lurk. If they do not have people to take care of this level of information, then they are usually doomed to fail. Finally, Transformational Leaders, by definition, seek to transform. When the organization does not need transforming and people are happy as they are, then such a leader will be frustrated. Like wartime leaders, however, given the right situation they come into their own and can be personally responsible for saving entire organizations

Employee empowerment is a process whereby: a culture of empowerment is developed; information—in the form of a shared vision, clear goals, boundaries for decision making, and the results of efforts and their impact on the whole—is shared; competency—in the form of training and experience—is developed; resources, or the competency to obtain them when needed to be effective in their jobs, are provided; and support—in the form of mentoring, cultural support, and encouragement of risk-taking—is provided (Kreisberg, 2002).

Every employer uses employee empowerment to some extent, though it is often thought of as delegation. No organization of more than one person can survive without some employee empowerment. When the owner of a business, Etc. hires someone to work the weekends, that person is empowered. When a manager hires an accounting graduate to maintain the departmental ledger, that person is empowered. When the director of advertising chooses which slogan should go on the web banner, that person is empowered. In each of these instances the empowered person has been provided with the training and experience they need to be effective in their position. Each has the information to know how their decisions will impact the larger whole. Each has access to the resources he or she needs to be effective. And the assumption is that each will be supported in the decisions they make (Ciulla, 2004).

Empowerment is a process of becoming, not a task or end result in and of itself. Just as with continuous improvement, no organization is ever done with its empowerment implementation; no person is ever "completely empowered". Empowerment becomes part of the culture of the organization. Empowering others becomes a transparent act, nobody within the organization notices when an act of empowerment is exercised. It may be noticeable in the extreme to outsiders, but, if the implementation effort has been successful, it will be second nature to those acculturated within the organization (Brown, 2000).

Clearly, empowerment is neither quick nor easy, except in the case of a newly formed organization where the leaders understand it and have committed themselves and the organization to it. Given that this is the case it becomes necessary to demonstrate the benefits and provide an implementation strategy which builds upon a clear understanding of all that employee empowerment entails (Weston, 2001).

Today's business environment depends on the "empowered employee." The process of employee empowerment increases the demands on an individual's skills and knowledge, both on an interpersonal and technical level. Empowerment is the process whereby employees are supported and encouraged to fully utilize their skills, abilities and creativity to accept ownership and accountability for their job/project. Empowerment includes supervisors and employees working together to establish clear goals and expectations within agreed-upon boundaries (Korukonda, 2000).

Sitterly (2000) indicated that the empowerment process can be characterized by three stages. Each stage represents an increase in employee control.

Stage 1: For people or teams new to empowerment, their circle of control and influence will be relatively small. In general, activities at this level include:
some control and minor decisions
problem solving consultation on some decisions made in the department

Stage 2: As employee skills, abilities and acceptance of empowerment increase, so does the scope of empowerment. In general, activities at this level include:
significant control and more decision making
problem solving consulted on most decisions made in the department

Stage 3: As a work team matures and performs consistently, significant ownership of the department is taken. The scope of empowerment is at its highest. In general, activities at this level include:
major control over work
significant problem solving
makes most decision in the department


Ciulla, J. B. (Ed.). (2004). Ethics: The heart of leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger

Brown, M.T. (2000). Working ethics: Strategies for decision making and organizational responsibility. Oakland, CA: Regent Press.

Dover, K. (2001). Avoiding empowerment traps. Management Review, 88, 1.

Korukonda, A.P. (2000). Beyond Teams and Empowerment: A Counterpoint to Two Common Precepts in TQM''. S.A.M. Advanced Management Journal, 64, 23- 38.

Kreisberg, S. (2002). Transforming power: Domination, empowerment, and education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press

Sitterly, C. (2000). Empowering others improves workplace quality. Business Press, 11, 22.

Weston, A. (2001). A 21st century ethical toolbox. New York: Oxford University Press



Leaders know what they value. They also recognize the importance of ethical behavior. The best leaders exhibit both their values and their ethics in their leadership style and actions. A leader’s leadership ethics and values should be visible because they live them in their actions.
A lack of trust is a problem in many workplaces. If leaders never identify their values in these workplaces, the mistrust is understandable. People don't know what they can expect. If leaders have identified and shared their values, living the values daily, visibly will create trust within the organization.
Ciulla (2004) suggested that we must have a rich and energetic lifestyle. Leaders must work within a balance and not be viewed as emotionally out of control. Ethical leadership starts at the top. If it is not right at the top, it is never going to be right at the bottom, or anywhere in between. Leaders may be born and not made, but ethics and ethical tenets of leadership training remain an undisputable necessity for every person assigned to positions requiring leadership and command responsibilities.
For example, the loss of trust and open heartedness complicates the President’s efforts to rebuild his standing with the public. His job approval rating remains at his all-time low. Honesty is a huge issue because even people who disagreed with his policies respected his integrity. Leaders must also motivate and inspire employees by showing that they care.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. Weston (2001) stated that it takes an open mind to learn and grow. The truest and best leaders were those who lead from the heart and who followed their own values. Leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Jesse Jackson. Leaders like Andrew Carnegie and even Bill Gates. They had a vision and were unafraid to follow that vision in accordance with their own spiritual, moral, and personal beliefs, despite intense opposition, rejection, failure, and even personal hardship.
True leaders are one who maintain an uncompromising adherence to an internalized, but otherwise generally accepted code of moral values; who adheres to utter sincerity, honesty, and candor in all communication; and who avoids deception, expediency, artificiality, or shallowness of any kind in all situations. Ciulla (2004) states that morally sensitive leaders are the essential feature of any good organization.


Ciulla, J. B. (Ed.). (2004). Ethics: The heart of leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Weston, A. (2001). A 21st century ethical toolbox. New York: Oxford University Press.



Comprehensive evaluation requires an awareness of the strengths and needs students bring to the classroom. Before instruction begins, this information may be gathered from such sources as interest inventories, cumulative records, teacher-teacher, parent-teacher and student-teacher conferences, and pre-testing. This type of evaluation, referred to as pre-instructional, can be used to plan properly.

The most valuable type of evaluation occurs during the instructional process. Formative evaluation focuses upon the process as well as the products of learning. Its main function is to document progress and identify impediments to learning such that they can be corrected or remediated as soon as possible. The results of any formative evaluation should be feedback immediately to the student. Although the sources of formative evaluation data are varied, a very important one is teacher observation. Research suggests that self-assessment is also very important as part of formative evaluation.

Summative evaluation is used to grade or certify students after instruction has taken place. Teachers should use a variety of tools when evaluating students. The tendency to average formative results should be avoided. The nature of the learner and the learning outcomes provide a focus for teaching and learning. Comprehensive data provided by varied assessment and evaluation practices guide the teacher in the selection of appropriate instructional approaches to ensure achievement of intended outcomes. Such data also assists:

• students to monitor and improve their learning;
• parents to support that learning;
• the school system to determine program effectiveness.

Concerns regarding the attainment of educational outcomes in general and levels of student performance in particular have contributed to a public awareness of and expectations for increased accountability within the educational system. Learning outcomes provide a common vision for educators, learners and parents by ensuring consistent expectations. The stated outcomes become the framework for teaching and learning, as well as the basis of assessment and evaluation.


In this world
Of all the nicest things
The best is being a peacemaker
And all the joy it brings

A "peacemaker" is one who seeks to bring harmony and reconciliation between those who are estranged.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Due Process and Student Safety

Gangs in one form or another have been around for hundreds of years. Pirates
were probably known as one of the original bad gangs. The groups that traditionally
come to mind when one thinks of modern day gangs are the Crips and the Bloods.
Wigton (1998) states that oftentimes, young peripheral or associate gang members get
their first exposure to the gang culture through various aspects of the media--news shows,
movies, videos, and even through the music of various artists. Some music and movies
tend to glamorize the gang lifestyle. Many kids who gravitate to gangs do so out of a
need to belong to something and for the power that is gained from being in a gang.
Today’s society makes alternative lifestyles appear very appealing.

Children are our greatest asset. Unfortunately, they are becoming a common statistic of crime related events. School violence involving gangs is a serious problem, especially in public schools. Improving the quality of American education becomes a very difficult task when gang violence is attached to the situation. Violence committed by gangs includes theft, bullying and intimidation, gun use, assault, rape, murder, and kidnapping. Violence is perpetrated against students, teachers, and staff. Wigton (1998) explained that gang violence may also range from intentional vendettas to accidental killings of bystanders. Crime and violence in schools threaten the well-being of young people and staff members.

A study on security in Durban schools found that schools are places where drugs, thugs, and weapons move as freely through the gates as the pupils (Griggs, 1998). Despite national efforts to restore a culture of learning and teaching, incidents of theft, vandalism, burglary, rape and even murder are reported occurring on school grounds. Crime and violence contaminates the school environment and jeopardizes the educational process. There can be serious long-standing physical, emotional and psychological implications for both teachers and pupils including: distress, reduced self-esteem, risk of depression and suicide, reduced school attendance, impaired concentration, fear and a diminished ability to learn (Griggs, 1998). However, according to Essex (2004) the percentage of students who reported the presence of street gang violence in their schools has decreased from 28 percent in 1989 to 17 percent in 1999.

With the presence of gangs in schools, school leaders are encountering pressure from all stake holders to provide a safe caring environment where teaching and learning can occur without fear. Since schools are considered to be safe places, failure to provide a safe environment can prove to be costly if evidence revels that principals and official leaders failed to act responsibly in providing protection for students and staff members. Gangs have distinguishing characteristics that identify their union aside of other gangs. Gangs are best described as groups of individuals involved in unusually close social relationships. They share common collective identity expressed through a gang name. They also adopt specific symbols or signs and claim control over a certain turf or territory. Gang members are typically young teenage males of similar ethnic or racial background. Loyalty is expressed through adherence to a strict code. Camaraderie is solidified through participation in group activities that are often antisocial, illegal, or violent, and criminal. The chain of command is hierarchical and respected by the members. Presently, many gang members have changed their appearance to professional sports team jackets, caps, and T-shirts making it difficulty to identify individual members (Essex, 2004).

Gangs are forces that are challenging schools and communities across the nation. School safety and discipline have always been a concern, but the increase in frequency and degree of school violence has brought this issue to the forefront in the past twenty years. During the 1970's, Congress began to look at the issue of school violence. Reforms such as conflict resolution, mediation, and state reform academies appeared during this time. Phillip (1999) notes that as our society continues to change, so does the role and responsibility of the public schools. Schools will have to look for creative ways to facilitate discipline and to stop violence. Critical to the development of safer schools for our children is a connection between local systems, counties, and states. Griggs (1998) reported, as we move toward national standards for achievement, we need to demonstrate a consistent commitment to safe schools for all children. Many efforts are going on across the country, but there must be greater communication. School and systems will waste time and other valuable resources by attempting to create what works instead of searching for all ready existing programs or strategies that would meet their needs. As the violence in our schools increases, so does the urgency of developing initiatives to counter it.

One of the forces that threaten school safety can be traced to the lack or breakdown of connections in the family and community. Of the successful methods for dealing with these disconnections, the underlying component is increased involvement among members of the school community. Wigton (1998) indicate that schools must foster bonds between the staff and students, and between schools and families. Academic goals should be the primary focus, but stronger relationships will advance schools to these goals. Schools that do not recognize the importance of building such connections will be undermining their own safety reform efforts. Griggs, (1998) has found that a negative or even adversarial relationship between students and their schools will work against attempts to make them feel safe in school.

Schools must also work with outside agencies to develop ways to meet the needs that foster violence. For example, biological factors or stressors were mentioned as an explanation for increased youth crime. Schools must work with community support systems such as Departments of Social Services, Mental Health Agencies, etc. to understand the manifestations of such factors and to develop plans for pooling resources to deal with the factors and neutralize or reverse their effects.


Essex, N. (2004). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educational leaders (3rd ed.) Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Griggs, R. (1998), Learners at Risk: The Security Situation in Durban Schools, Durban, Independent Projects Trust.

Phillip, B. (1999), Violence in South African township schools – an exploration. Honors research dissertation. Institute of Criminology, UCT, Cape Town.

Wigton, A. (1998), Firearm-related injuries in Cape Town children and youth 1992 – 1996, Child Health Policy Unit, UCT, Cape Town.