Schools will be measured for order and academic success.

A rule is only a rule if it’s enforced.

If you fail to discipline your child society eventually will do it for you, in a much harsher way.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

Add your own time-worn commonsense adage. There are plenty that all come down to the same point, which is that bringing order from chaos requires a firm commitment to addressing and correcting the situation.

After a long, drawn-out review of the School District of Beloit’s Code of Conduct—initiated in the wake of rampant complaints about disciplinary problems—the district has delivered its response, which is, mostly, to double down on past practices. For example:

  • Teachers will focus on using culturally responsive practices, including PBIS (an acronym for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports).
  • Discipline issues will be handled with restorative justice practices.
  • Trauma-informed approaches will be used to deal with troubled students.
  • More training will be provided for teachers in equity and culturally appropriate practices.

With all due respect to decision-makers in the district, Beloit schools for years have used PBIS and restorative justice principles. Staff training for cultural sensitivity has been standard practice.

During that time results can only be called disappointing.

Not all that long ago, at a full-staff town hall gathering, teachers made it clear that disruptive behavior in classrooms—coupled with lack of support from administrators—made learning difficult for the majority of kids who were there to absorb knowledge. The only discernible response from board members and administrators was anger and indifference toward the teachers.

Meanwhile, year after year, the district’s state-released report card has shown academic performance lagging way behind other schools across Wisconsin.

Parents have been voting with their kids’ feet. Public school open enrollment has seen the district bleed students for a net loss annually of hundreds of kids. State-funded vouchers have drained away scores of students to private schools. Now comes the Lincoln Academy, a proposed public charter school, with an expectation that hundreds more parents will see value in trying something new.

Behind the idea of alternatives—from open enrollment, to vouchers, to charters—is the notion that competition will foster improvements and innovation and allow standard public education to break away from past failures. Or maybe not.

Citizens couldn’t make it much clearer if they took out neon billboards. They want two things from the School District of Beloit: (1) Get the grades up so the district is at least meeting state standardized expectations, and (2) stop allowing the teaching process to be yanked sideways by disruptive behaviors.

It has to be about outcomes and results, the kind that prepare the community’s children to function effectively in an adult world to become successful.

Because here’s the hard truth. The adult world is an unforgiving place. Employers will pay for value, and aren’t particularly interested in anything else. When the kids leave the campus, that’s what they’ll face. It can be downright Darwinian in sorting those who can from those who can’t.

Getting kids ready for that world requires order and academic rigor. That doesn’t mean we believe social and cultural sensitivity is wrong. Clearly, there’s a place for such practices in helping kids keep up.

But make no mistake, parents will measure the district by whether order is the norm and academic success is improving every day. If the past is prelude expect this reality: Measurements that continue to disappoint will produce a steady outflow of students to alternative education models, surely as night follows day.