Four things the American school system needs to restore a culture of respect and obedience
In a society where simple obedience is difficult for the average young person, the outcome is lawlessness. This is precisely what we see today in liberal states like California and New York, where policies create a culture of disrespect and disobedience, especially among young people.
1. Calling out all forms of deviant behavior
A shifting culture
A substitute teacher, having worked in a public high school in Illinois for five years, rarely hears students say “excuse me,” “sorry,” or “thank you,” and it’s just appalling.
The same has been happening, if not much worse, in other cities. Rude student behavior inside and outside school is widespread.
Many of these kids are not even aware of their bad behavior. What happened?
In 2021, a proctor raised a “Keep Quiet, Test Ongoing” sign in a corridor. A group of students mocked it and made noises.
He reported the incident, but authorities advised him to ignore them, saying, “They’re just being kids.”
Such kind of behavior isn’t tolerated in many Asian schools, and it was then he began to realize that what’s wrong in American public schools begins with school authorities—and he is absolutely correct.
Teachers speak out
– This part is being updated –
After the pandemic, many public schools eased what students could or could not wear in school. Kids began to wear tank tops, sleepers, half tops, or short shorts.
Some teachers were more strict by disallowing hats or hoodies, but nonetheless, indecent clothing was everywhere.
Hygiene: The product of discipline and obedience
Sneezing indoors, dirty nails, body odor, and smelly or uncombed hair in Asia are often considered improper due to hygiene and social norms, but not in progressive America.
These have become norms that many growing teenagers don’t really care if their armpits smell.
Minor theft and drug use often go unpunished in left-liberal places like California because of “progressive equality laws.”
The culture is so bad in these places that people spit or defecate whenever they feel like it.
Alongside hygiene, Asians often exhibit discipline in grooming and dressing appropriately and refrain from stepping on chairs with shoes on.
The bottom line is that a culture of discipline results in a decent society with deep respect for themselves, other people, things, and places.
2. Those in authority should set radical parameters
The government has the power to limit indecency or bad influence that children may be exposed to and, at the same time, promote positive behavior.
However, leaders are so preoccupied with politicking that human trafficking, the porn industry, and media that push immorality have been allowed to proliferate, infecting an entire generation with lost morals.
In the Philippines, lawmakers expressed concern about the abrupt decline in moral values and the growing disrespect among young Filipinos.
As a response, several Senators pushed for the inclusion of the GMRC curriculum in all educational levels, including public and private schools, in 2020.
This initiative aims to foster good manners and proper conduct as fundamental components of students’ education.
The same thing should be done in American schools. Instead of pushing ideologies, administrators should reinstate authority and listen to teachers who uphold traditional academic methods, emphasizing teacher-led instruction and attentive student participation.
In special classes, students within the autism or Down syndrome spectrum, I’ve seen more of them respond well to discipline. There should be no difference with regular students.
The Pledge of Allegiance
In “our “WeAreTeachers Helpline Facebook group,” the question of students refusing to stand for the Pledge is a common topic.
Some believe it’s unpatriotic not to stand, while others argue it’s against free speech to compel students. However, a recent interpretation of the constitution regarding the pledge affirms students have the right to refuse the Pledge.
When I became a naturalized American citizen, I often found myself standing alone during the Pledge of Allegiance while teachers and students ignored it. Standing solo became embarrassing rather than a source of pride.
It’s not rocket science to know that undermining patriotism results in disunity, disloyalty, and disrespect for every authority.
First Amendment Rights
The 1943 Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette ruled that students can’t be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, protecting their First Amendment rights.
Following the ruling, most students continued to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, often encouraged by teachers. After the pandemic, ignoring it became the norm.
Teachers should set an example
While participating in the Pledge of Allegiance has been made clear voluntary, it does not mean it can’t be the culture.
Hence, maintaining a culture of respect is the primary role of the teacher, supported by school administrators.
3. Stop accommodating students
Fear of offending students
In 2023, data indicate teachers are increasingly scared of losing their jobs or getting their districts fined if they say the wrong to their students. [EdW]
A study published by Ryerson University in Canada found teachers are often struck with fear while in front of the classroom.
Male teachers typically find it easier to assert classroom authority and make students obey. This dynamic contrasts with some female teachers, whose nurturing instincts sometimes result in less assertive control, though this isn’t universal.
However, one typical pattern I have observed among teachers is that they tend to be cautious about potentially offending students, regardless of their condition.
One teacher from California echoes what many have been saying. “The city’s troubles are largely due to a mindset that seems to pervade life… In a nutshell, adults are afraid to offend, while children seem trained to be offended,” wrote James Vescovi in 2023.
Interestingly, the Judeo-Christian God has also become offensive, not to students, but to school administrators.
For example, a student was told not to wear a “Jesus mask” because it might offend others, while a coach was fired for inviting students to pray with him, and a substitute teacher told him he could not pray with his daughter.
The bravado began with empowering Black Lives Matter in 2020, where destructive protests and looting were justified by Democrat leaders, citing reparation. Everything became about race.
In 2021, the Equality Act strengthened LGBTQ rights to the point of compelling speech as an individual right and minors choosing gender surgery without parental consent.
Along with Democrat states that accommodate free abortion and arrest-free theft to minors, more young people felt they couldn’t be messed with.
Consequently, teachers have become increasingly cautious, even apprehensive, in calling out bad behavior as they can be accused of being racist or homophobic.
Discipline instead of accommodation
ADHD is often used as a blanket excuse to accommodate students. However, special classes and methods used so far have not only worked but appear to have made things worse.
Illiteracy is rising along with rude behavior because students are given rights and privileges instead of discipline.
To keep the graduation rate, teachers are forced to pass students, even if they do not deserve it.
But more glaring is that there are more undisciplined students today who know they can get away with almost anything. All they need to do is claim mental illness and expect accommodations.
Mental illness is increasing, but so is glorifying this condition and using every possible diagnosis to excuse bad behavior.
4. The lack of school leadership
Command-obey discipline SPED classes
I’ve worked a couple of times with Special Education (SPED) classes in the mid-west, where high school students in the high spectrum of autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, or a combination of these mental disorders are grouped together.
These students exhibit similar levels of stubbornness to regular students. However, the disciplined approach is more direct.
Teachers do not hesitate to give the command-obey like “sit,” “eat,” or “stop.” Teachers are in complete control, and the kids fear the consequences.
However, it’s more challenging in other states, like California or New York, where demonic strongholds are clearly present.
Students in conservative vs. liberal states
An increasing number of young individuals are unruly and beyond discipline, and law enforcers are often called within and outside the school environment.
In essentially democratic cities, public schools often employ full-time student enforcers and Interventionists to secure prevalent disruptive behavior, which often escalates to physical altercations.
Simple obedience shouldn’t be a struggle
My mother, who taught in CPS for two decades, has witnessed, in dismay, the evolution of a teaching style that no longer employs complete submission to authority.
Simple obedience like “stay quiet” or “keep reading” has transgressed to “stop playing video games” and “stop arguing.”
Studies suggest that children with ADHD can obey and follow orders when guided. In other words, they find it easy to obey if discipline is consistent.
A study found that those with ADHD tend to avoid tasks with a high risk of punishment, even if it has a high chance of reward, which is a no-brainer for anyone. [Furukawa et al.]
The point is that ADHD students are sensitive to negative consequences, such as failing in class or not graduating.
However, accommodations give them the option not to follow orders or submit work on time.
However, in many special education classes, although these students can dress up nicely, cook, or do leisure activities, they often struggle with academic tasks such as submitting work on time or paying attention to the teacher—though they have a driving license.
The curriculum accommodates their pace, resulting in selective obedience, where the students often do nothing.
In several of the students I’ve worked with, their disobedience is not always a consequence of their mental condition, as they can willingly play video games without any issue.
It feels as though they have been conditioned to be disobedient.
Four top issues facing teachers today:
- Disrupting classes.
- Acts of disrespect to teachers and staff.
- Disregarding phone or iPad rules during class.
- Increased tardiness and absenteeism.
All these seem to be about respect, but it’s really about obedience, where submission to authority has become an option for a new breed of “entitled kids.”
Submission to authority
In 2018, a limited Milgram experiment revealed approximately 57% of high school students were inclined to disobey an authority figure.
Rates would be higher if similar experiments were held today, especially after 2021, when rights and privileges became ideological.
5. Make teachers an honorable profession
Many parents are ill-equipped
Respect and submission to authority go together, starting with the parents. However, increasingly, parents are having difficulty disciplining and are mostly unequipped.
Parents heavily rely on the school to teach their kids values, respect, and honor, which, unfortunately, most teachers are also struggling with.
Respect for authority is no longer the norm
During the “age of innocence,” children deeply regard their parents. They call them mother or father. While in some elitist and gilded societies, children refer to their father as “Sir.”
During the counterculture of the 1960s to 1980s, it was common for kids to call their parents by their first name, which is obscene to even consider in Asian countries.
Still, respect for authority was a norm in and outside the home, which, in turn, was part of a collective discipline that permeated American society.
Student respect for teachers drops
Students’ respect for teachers dropped from 79% to 31%, according to a Harris Poll. Fewer adults believe teachers respect parents or students — and fewer believe parents and students respect teachers. [USA Today]
It begins by honoring teachers
Asian cultures often employ specific honorific suffixes, such as “sir” or “ma’am,” when addressing authority.
In the Philippines, it’s customary for younger people to address those who appear older than them with “sir” or “ma’am.”
The practice extends to the corporate world, exemplified by Jollibee, a Filipino global food chain, where management uses “sir” or “ma’am” to address each other.
It was very effective because it was easier for store teams to work cohesively, respecting boundaries and authority.
In Asian countries, teachers are referred to as “Sir or Maam” or equivalent language.
In the Philippines, the same goes for anyone who appears to be older or, even if younger, if they are in a position of power.
Similarly, it’s impolite for younger individuals to speak at eye level to their elders in Korea, Japan, and China. They must maintain a sort of repeated bowing (submissive) demeanor.
These practices help students remain submissive to authority, something American school badly needs.
Therefore, the immediate remedy for restoring honor to the profession is to refer to teachers with proper and respectable prefixes.