Today I ran across this article, which was based on a poll of the nation's teachers. Among the many interesting findings, most of which correlate with my own teaching experience, was this: "76% of teachers say that special education students who misbehave are often treated too lightly, even when their misbehavior has nothing to do with their disability." This is so true in my experience, most likely more so in my school because we have no specialist or special-ed teacher.
Another finding, also very true in my experience was: "Nearly 8 in 10 teachers (78%) said students are quick to remind them that they have rights or that their parents can sue." I always find it amusing when a student says this, because 10 times out of 10 they don't know what they're talking about. Nevertheless, it is clearly a symptom of our changing culture where everyone must feel good about themselves all the time, and if they don't mommy and daddy are going to sue. Of course, the student usually picks all this up at home, which suggests that the parents are to blame.
Now don't get me wrong. There are poor teachers, and there are teachers who are unfair. In fact, most teachers are unfair at one time or another purely on accident. Teachers are human. The bottom line is that even if a student is punished unfairly by a teacher, or even if a disciplinary action is more severe than the crime warrants, life will go on. The student will survive and it won't make one lick of difference in the long run. If anything the student will learn the lesson that life isn't fair and teachers no exception. The fact is that the vast majority of teachers are just trying to the best they can in a culture where children are increasingly difficult to teach and where teachers are expected, more and more, to teach the values and habits that really should be taught by parents. Yes, there are bad teachers, and yes we should look out for them, but when you can't control your learning environment because the students are holding all the cards, it's time for a change. Parents need to learn that despite the fact that teachers occaisionally make mistakes, most of us a professionals who know a good bit more about running a classroom and teaching their child than they do.