DR. MARK PORTERIE — School district rules for safety are helped when backed at home

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Our dress code is for student safety. Designated building entrances and exits are designed for student safety. Even the restrictions of cell phone-usage at school are for safety reasons.

Yet students argue to wear whatever they want, bring whatever they want, do whatever they want and refuse to see that cell phones in schools are a huge distraction and fuel for negativity.

Following rules, and accepting the consequences of when you don’t, begin at home with strong parenting. If your child is unruly at home and doesn’t listen to you, or you tell them they don’t have to listen to us, that is a huge part of the unwanted behavior that strong parents and our staff disapprove of during the school day.

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As we move around and talk to parents, it amazes me that there are some parents who truly believe their children are never wrong and their children tell the truth 100 percent of the time.

If you are one of those parents, let me be one of the first in a long line of PAISD administrators, teachers and support staffers to tell you that you cannot continue to support your child’s claims when adult and student witnesses and extremely clear video evidence prove otherwise.

I will be the first to admit even I did not divulge everything to my parents. Did I flat out lie to them? No, I did not; but I did not always tell the whole truth.

In my day, it was a sense of respect and being scared to death of catching a whipping. Yes, I think we want to believe our children are honest and they know we are their parents and will support them; but I have enough sense to know that my daughter has not told me the full truth every single time. I am sure she leaves some parts of the truth out of the equation once in a while.

And I will admit that I may not want to know everything. There are some things that are better left unsaid. But we have witnessed parents aggressively approach school administrators and central office staff to discuss what the campus has reported their children are doing at schools, and the first thing they will say is, “They don’t do this/that at home!”

Let’s not be delusional. There is absolutely no way some of the extreme actions we witness in classrooms and on campus are isolated events that only occur during the school day.

If parents want to believe everything their children tell them, that is their choice. The problem comes when parents expect everyone else to believe what their children are saying is the total truth. We all want our children to be successful in a world that will not cater to them; many times, their words will not be believed.

Actions often speak louder than words. When we hand down disciplinary measures to our students, there is documented evidence to prove they have actually done what we are informing parents they did.

Our children will have to learn how to be honest, have integrity and be able to peacefully problem solve while dealing with multiple personalities and cultures. Children learn what they live.

They do what they see the adults in their lives doing, regardless of if the adults are telling the children to do differently. We have never been a “Do as I say, not as I do,” society. And now is the time for parents and the village to do better.

Children have anger issues because there are anger issues within their homes. Children lie because they are being lied to by those responsible for their upbringing. Children fight because they see their parents and role models fighting.

Children do not know how to walk away from conflict because they don’t see the people they look up to walking away from conflict. Children aggravate situations and don’t calm down because parents do “pop off.”

We see it up and down social media timelines. We see it when we call parents, whether they answer our calls or ignore them. We see it when parents come to the schools for whatever reason and how they express their disagreement with our decisions made in the best interest of our children.

As we were raising our daughter, I would often remind my wife that we loved our daughter and we choose to allow her to do certain things, but the world does not love her and we will not always be here to protect her.

One day, she will have to make it in this huge world without her biggest supporters, her mother and father. And sometimes that support means to let her know when she has done something wrong and how she can make it right or do better moving forward.

Sometimes that support means showing her how to manage any negative feelings she may be experiencing or any negative situation she may be facing. Our reactions to the same feelings and situations must model what we expect of her when she is faced with disappointment, conflict, disagreements and negativity.

So parents, the next time you receive a call from the school, answer the phone and truly listen to what is being said. Don’t be so quick to think it is the school’s fault and your child has done nothing wrong.

Listen to what your child’s teachers, administrators or a friend is telling you and then listen to your child with an open ear. Deep down, you may have a feeling that your child is being dishonest.

You might just find a way to be able to support the school and your child at the same time.

Dr. Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at mporterie@paisd.org.