Teachers in Bakersfield, Calif., report being scared to go to work. They have been shoved around, cursed at and had eggs thrown at them. Students are reportedly bringing and using drugs, bombs, alcohol and weapons on campus. Many teachers in the district say they are afraid to go to school each day, and constantly fear for their safety.
It's a trend that has been going on for years, but no one wants to talk about it. Recently, however, at a school district board meeting in Bakersfield, teachers had finally had enough and brought it to light. More and more teachers are being verbally and physically abused by students -- and their recourse is dwindling.
Then there are the PDAs (public displays of affection). "I don't want to see anybody making out and practically having sex in the halls, either gay or straight," said one student in another Southern California town. "But when the teachers tell them to stop, they accuse the teachers of discriminating against gays and they get in trouble, so now you only see gay couples making out at school."
How can students get away with all this? Blame it on budget cuts. There are fewer resources to hire supervisors, officers, etc. to help with discipline. But it has to do with a common district policy in California in which schools only get paid when a student is physically present, so money is lost every time someone is suspended or expelled. District workers have been asked to reduce student suspensions by 40 percent.
Fully aware of the policy, some students are becoming bolder. After Bakersfield teachers expressed their fears and frustrations, the district suggested creating a task force, and had officials visit three of the schools where the problem seems most intense. An e-mail was also sent to principals, reiterating the district discipline code and asking that it be explained to students and staff.
How far these steps will go to relieve the problem remains to be seen.
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