Monday, June 22, 2009

When bad teachers happen in the MDUSD, kids get suspended??

I just had to write about this, as I had heard about this teacher all year long. What does it take to get the attention of administration at a school? Well, in this case it seems it took a student "defying state education code" to videotape one particular unruly day.

"The students weren't behaving," Moore said of the third-period introductory algebra class. "The teacher couldn't control the students. They were making a ruckus every day, making it difficult to learn."

The ninth-grade students threw things around the room. Shortly after Christmas, students told this newspaper, someone put Play-Doh in the microwave, causing the substance to explode. It resulted in a smoke-filled classroom that teacher Michael Huang refused to air out. In other classes Huang taught, they said, students lit trash can fires and smoked cigarettes or even marijuana."

What makes students behave this way? This behavior is unacceptable no matter how "bad" the teacher is, don't you agree? But should "good students" be forced to endure this? But when complaints were made of this behavior and the teacher's actions all year long, why does it take someone having to "break the rules" to "blow the whistle" on the situation? What is wrong with this picture?

Part of the article describes the teacher's actions:

"Her daughter and classmates, who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of campus retaliation, said Huang tried coaxing students by offering extra credit if they would raise their hands and say "thank you." His Taiwanese accent was difficult to understand and he often sat at his computer instead of teaching, they said.

Huang also yelled at them and ridiculed them in front of the class, they said."

I'm glad to hear this particular teacher has resigned. Teachers like this should not be in our schools. But geez, what do you do about students like this? Seems there is enough blame here to go around.

What do you all think?

For the full article about this teacher and the events leading to his resignation, read the Contra Costa Times article written by Theresa Harrington: Girl Suspended for Videotaping Unruly Class


  1. Ching Chong Bing Bong,

    Arl your students are berong to us.

  2. First and foremost it's obvious that the students are the ones that are out of control. It's more fair to place blame on their parents who despite being their parents, can not seem to instill even a basic amount of respect in their kids. This poor teacher did not spend 6 years in college learning about how to control hoodlums.

    Setting fire in the classrooms? Give me a break ALLLLLL those kids should have been suspended immediately OR parents should be required to sit in the classes with their kids and control their behavior.

    If you're gonna pass the buck, pass it back to the parents.

  3. So the larger question is when do you stop blaming parents? Seriously. At some point kids make their own stupid decisions. I am a good parent, but my kid makes decisions i sometimes cring at. They are their own person. Experimenting with power, humor, mischief and the mystique of pushing limits. Just like when they were toddlers. I think teenageers are a lot like toddlers actually.

    But really, back to the question. When do you stop blaming the parents. I'm willing to bet there were some "good parents" lumped in with those kids making bad decisions.

  4. Another Frustrated ParentJune 23, 2009 at 8:35 AM

    There is no question that this behavior by the students is unacceptable, however this district has got to address the issues of ineffective and sometime incompetent teachers. I would like someone to answer the question "How many tenured teachers have been fired from MDUSD for inability to do their job well".
    We have a situation at my daughters school where we have had an incompetent teacher for two years teaching French, she is the only French teacher so the students who took French in middle school have no choice but to take her course. She often does nothing but sit at her desk, her English skills are poor, her native accent is so strong her French is difficult to understand, in one year she only progressed through half of the course work and students had to finish the remainder the next year, ultimately falling a year behind. She is arbitrary and mean to the students, everyone knows she is incompetent. The district brought in a long term sub for one period a day, at an extra cost, due to a formal complaint by a parent. Parents have approached the Administration, the Superintendent, and the board. They have gone through all the proper channels, written letters, and had meetings. Every school this teacher has taught at has seen a significant drop in student enrollment in French. She is a problem that is being passed from school to school.
    As the next school year begins she will be back again. How is this possible?
    I guess videotaping is out.

  5. How much does fear of litigation correlate with a lack of discipline in public schools? I'm sure there are problems like this in many public schools, not just MDUSD.

    Why are we making graduation requirements more stringent when most of these kids would be fine in remedial education. I'd also like to see more vocational education returned to public high schools. Not necessarily wood and metal shop, but training for viable careers, such as HVAC and general contracting. It could be certification type coursework. Why aren't we offering coursework that would help kids get decent jobs as cable installers, appliance repair, etc?

    I know how much students need post-secondary education, but if they don't want to learn in high school, they're just not. Why should the kids who are committed have to put up with the behavior of the kids who lack that commitment?

    I'm not talking about forcing kids into programs whether they're remedial or not, but there are some kids who are not going to attend post-secondary education. We should make accommodations for both types of kids.

  6. As a teacher myself, I have to say that I'm shocked that you all are shocked. My experience has been that people who have a lot to say about how bad teachers and schools are haven't spent much time in a classroom since they themselves were students. The world has changed. In many schools, parents have abdicated all of their responsibilities for their own children to the schools, in particular the teachers, who get trashed no matter what the situation may be. Then, when the kids make questionable decisions or behave badly, it's really simple to just blame the teacher and be done with it.

    So, as a teacher let me just say a few things. It's not my job to teach your kids good moral values and principles. It's not my job to teach your kids respect for other people. It's not my job to take the blame for everything they should have but didn't learn at home. These things are your job PARENTS!

    The question was put forward: "when do we stop blaming parents". We stop blaming parents when they take responsibility for the children they brought into the world. We stop blaming parents when they start taking phone calls and notes from teachers about bad behavior seriously. We stop blaming parents when they actually start showing up for scheduled parent/teacher meetings. We stop blaming parents when they start making sure their kids have done all of their homework. We stop blaming parents when they stop allowing their kids to leave the house each day with no school supplies, no paper, no pencils. We stop blaming parents when they start being concerned about their kids' grades and start making an effort to talk with the teacher about those grades. We stop blaming the parents when they stop blaming the schools for their own bad parenting.

    I had over 100 students last year and nearly half of them got either failing or really terrible grades. I heard from exactly 3 parents all year, parents of kids who behave. They all wanted to know why their kids' "A" grades had slipped to "B+". As far as I knew, none of my failing kids had any parents at all.

    Unless you are a teacher yourself, you can't even begin to understand how difficult the first 2 or 3 years of teaching are. Add into the mix the standard practice of school districts of assigning the worst classes to the teachers with the least experience. And then providing little or no support until things get so bad the parents actually make complaints. Having parents or administrators sit in the classroom is rarely a remedy because the kids are not stupid. If they see another adult in the room they know they are being watched, so they behave. And then that adult goes away with a totally unrealistic idea of what is going on.

    Kids in 9th grade don't suddenly start behaving this way. They didn't behave this way because the teacher was new or because he didn't speak perfect English. The did what they did because they knew they would get away with it. They knew that neither their parents nor the school administrators would do much about it. Those involved have probably been doing so for years, probably since 3rd or 4th grade. They behave this way because nobody has ever taught them that it is not OK.

    My guess is that the girl who made the video was suspended because the district was embarrassed. She "outed" their faulty management.

    Suspension isn't a valid consequence, nor is it a threat. Kids who behave this way don't want to be in school anyway, especially near the end of the year. Suspending them is actually a gift, a badge of honor. A vacation.

    Everyone wants to point their finger at one cause. There is no "one cause". Kids behave the way that they have been taught it is OK to behave. Either they have been taught to behave badly, or they have not been taught not to. It's all of our faults: parents, schools, teachers, districts. We're all at fault.

    Maybe we ought to re-think the idea that all kids MUST go to school. Maybe there is someplace else they can go and be "parented" until they learn how to be good citizens.

  7. I just watched the video's on the CC Times website. I think there is much more to this story because you could hear the person holding the phone egging on the students causing the problem. What? If this student was so distraught at the behavior of these students, why encourage the behavior? Makes me wonder if she was doing this because she wanted some kind of 15 minutes of fame? So I will wait until I hear all the facts before passing further judgement.

    I agree with you Anon 11:57. Students need to be taught respect, manners and morals at home by their PARENTS! America's students are a joke to the rest of the world because of their behavior. I went to school in another country, this would not have been allowed. Teaching has become babysitting. Parents, now is the time to spend with your children and teach them the basics, manners, respect, personal responsibility, morals and how to behave in a classroom setting. If you don't, they will fail in College and kicked out and will fail at life.

  8. I am a teacher in the MDUSD and I think there needs to be more oversight when it comes to teacher performance. ALL teachers need to be held responsible for their classes, and should be penalized for any misconduct.

    In this situation, the chaos was likely caused by poor management to start, then the kids just took over. This is not to say that they are not responsible...these kids should be suspended or kicked out of the school for lighting a fire in a classroom. But that would never happen in my classroom because my students are engaged and learning. There's really no opportunity for this type of behavior.

    Then again, I can pretty much do whatever I want. My principal never is in the classrooms, in fact, she is rarely out of her office and has no clue what goes on around our school.

    That brings up another issue...where's the oversight there? How are principal's held responsible for their work? Ours misses school days with no communication with staff, rarely leaves her office, doesn't attend school functions, and truly doesn't participate in the daily activities of the school day. Why isn't someone doing something about that?

  9. These are problems that are not new and quite entrenched in the structure of the school system. The reason it emerges at school is because teachers are expected to be parent, teacher, counselor, mentor, manners coach and yet may not reprimand the child because that might damage the psyche of the little darlings.

    The overriding message here is that parents need to get off their ass and govern their children. While there are many that do - and this is obviously not directed at them and they know who they are because I guarantee your child's teacher has lavished praise all over them - it is the large number of parents who have no clue, who shut up their whiny kid by caving to their demands, who want to be cool and not have their kids feel left out so allow them such leeway that some die in drunk driving wrecks, others get arrested, many suspended for booze and weed or knives at school and the rest coast by. Too harsh? Get real - go visit school. The percentage mix of trouble to not is skewed heavily in the wrong direction.

    Mr. Huang - Clayton Valley High. The man was very competent in his subject. But put him in an environment where the class is out of control and he's finished. Of course, go see whether this problem exists in Asian classrooms. Really, you want to know why you will soon be speaking Chinese? This crap does not happen in Asian classrooms. Was Huang a good fit? No. But those kids with parents who have their head in the sand can be merciless. And when those parents pull their heads out of the sand so they can bitch out the teacher and the school; they are just irrational.

    The girl who videotaped should be a clue for the board to put some cameras in classrooms and see for themselves just what goes on. As a parent who has monitored classes, you wonder why we boast the drop out rate? Go visit!

    Anon 11:39 - when do you stop blaming the parents? You never stop if the parent deserves the blame. You also never stop praising the parents that are there, God love them. They may be a dying breed, but having those parents come in is a dream for many teachers.

    And yes, incompetent teachers need to go, the same as at any other job. Just be sure it is their fault and not as I have described above. The French teacher cited earlier - I agree. C'est finis!

  10. Why weren't the vice principle and principle in that class on a daily basis to stop this? Wait till June and hope it goes away. Both should be suspended themselves without pay for a few months or fired. Give me a break. They new what was going on and did nothing of value to correct it. Get you big ass out of your chair and work.

  11. I am an involved parent and my kids do well in school. Luckily for them, they are in Honors and AP classes and their peers are motivated to learn, so classroom misbehavior is rare.

    Teacher @11:57 on 6/23- When is it the teacher's responsibility to say to the administration that he needs help? Maybe he was worrying about his job and didn't want to appear that he wasn't up to the task, but at some point, the responsibility for classroom management was his, not the parents.

    Do you know if he tried to contact any parents of the offenders? Did the district take ANY action in response to the parent's calls about the bad behavior?

    I am embarrassed that the district suspended the girl who took the video. They expect her to know the education code regarding privacy, but are they adhering to the ed code about safe environments for students?

    The principal should have been in that classroom often enough that the kids knew that he meant business. Having an adult in their for one day doesn't change a thing.

    I feel for the teacher, but some of the worst teachers that my kids have had have had thick accents. Who knew if they could teach the material because my kids couldn't understand most of the things that were being said!

  12. When my grandson, a student at Clayton Valley, first heard about this incident, he said there was no way the student filming it did it to protest against the teacher's lack of control or the students' poor behavior. His assumption was that the student did it to get the teacher in trouble just for the fun of it. (No, he did not know the student who did the filming.) I bet the Clayton Valley administration made the same assumption. ALL of the kids know that using your phone in school is against the rules.

  13. I would like to see one teacher on this blog blame the teacher and the administration for a lack of control in the class and the cowardliness in not addressing the problem before it got to this stage.
    The district had known about the problems surrounding this teacher for a least half the year. I sat in a board meeting where it was discussed. Under those circumstances a student would most definitely video the lack of control in the classroom.
    These kids were wrong but so were the adults who were responsible for their safety and education.

  14. "School systems face vastly more repercussions from firing an incompetent teacher than from totally neglecting school children."

    This means -
    "Teachers have stronger legal rights to taxpayers' dollars than the taxpayers have to a quality education for their children."

    Something is very wrong.

  15. There needs to be a long hard look at the CVHS administrators and especially the vice principal. Based on the info in the Times article his actions were pathetic.

    In the late 1960's you got an education and there were no out of control classrooms.

  16. 4:28,
    read my post at 8:20. I am a teacher and I think this was the teachers responsibility just as much as the students.

  17. I cannot find instructions in the MDUSD Parent Information Packet on how to officially file concerns or complaints at the district level regarding teacher, staff and administrative qualifications/behavior, classroom management issues, campus cleanliness and maintenance, or student behavior/safety concerns contributing to negative learning environment.

    I did find clearly delineated formal complaint procedures to protect against a variety of discriminatory practices in relation to special education and gender, sexual harassment, hate violence and bullying as well as complaint mechanisms concerning inadequate classroom materials, facility maintenance and safety.

    Although implied in the MDUSD Mission Statement, nothing pops out at me supporting complaint policies designed to ensure the primary educational rights of motivated, well-behaved students to have qualified, prepared teachers employing appropriate curriculum and testing. Nor do I see explicit complaint procedures to ensure that students have the right to a calm, constructive and safe classroom environment free from the distractions and safety issues caused by disruptive, misbehaving students. --- This is our FIRST PRIORITY.

    The Uniform Complaint Procedure (5 CCR 4620) seems like a good place to look for guidance in making such complaints, but nothing in this section seems to address the kinds of concerns raised by the Clayton Valley student and her parents.

    Every other kind of complaint is listed however: “The district shall follow complaint procedures when addressing complaints alleging unlawful discrimination based on actual or perceived age, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, in any program or activity that receives or benefits from state financial assistance. Uniform complaint procedures shall also be used when addressing complaints alleging failure to comply with state and/or federal laws in adult education, consolidated categorical aid programs, migrant education, vocational education, child care and development programs, child nutrition programs, special education programs, and federal school safety planning requirements.”

    Have I missed something? If so, please point me in the right direction.

    Whatever happened to protecting students, teachers, staff and administrators who are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing?

    I would like to see district leadership develop and include in the Parent Information Packet a comprehensive Classroom/Campus Bill of Rights that would specify exactly how classroom/campus complaints should be lodged, how they will be evaluated and, if determined to be substantiated, how they will be investigated by district officials, acted upon and reported.

    The Classroom/Campus Bill of Rights would communicate expectations and standards, outline official complaint procedures to include specific reporting information (who, what, where, when, how long), provide primary district contact information, including Anonymous Hotline phone number, and should be posted clearly and prominently inside every classroom, administrative office and hallway on district property.

    I believe that having such a proactive policy and reporting mechanism would ensure a greater accountability at all levels and could rectify many problems within our district in an appropriate, responsible and timely manner.

  18. Teresa,
    I spent a good deal of time yesterday looking for the exact information you are seeking, I too came up empty handed. I second your notion that the board should look into adopting a policy like the one you outline above. Thank you for saying it so well.

  19. My kids both went to Clayton Valley. One of the best math teachers they had was foreign born and had an accent. After complaining about it for a week, my son got used to it. The teacher could explain the material clearly so the kids could understand it and was available for individual help during lunch and break.

    On the other hand, one of the worst teachers my son had was American-born, no accent, and had many years experience teaching math. In my son's opinion, echoed by other kids in the class, he just "didn't teach". And they were all frustrated by it and wished they had the same teacher they'd had the year before... the one with the accent.

  20. I am appalled by what my kids tell me about what goes on in a high school classroom these days. Mr. Huang is not the only teacher at CVHS unable to control his classroom. Many kids think it's fun to disrupt the class and harrass the teacher. It's a way of showing off for the other kids, who think it's funny.

    It is not possible for the principal or vice-principal to spend all day in a classroom attempting to enforce order. Unfortunately, many teachers have to portray themselves as incredibly mean, scary, or crazy to get kids to respect them. One of my kids had a teacher who kept a baseball bat in the room and would whack desks with it to get kids to behave. Another had the kids so intimidated that they were afraid to say anything in class. It seems to be almost impossible to find a way to keep the hooligans in check without coming off as a prison guard. The only teachers who seem to be able to do it are the ones lucky enough to get assigned to honors and AP classes where the kids tend to be better behaved. Poor Mr. Huang was teaching a class for kids who are behind in math.

  21. Would someone from the district (teacher, site administrator, district official, school board member) reading this thread please address the appropriate way to make complaints regarding the types of concerns discussed.

    What is the preferred, official method so that complaints become action items to identify and implement solutions...


    meetings in person with district officials?-- if so, whom?

    committee meetings?-- if so, which?

    complaints in public forums, i.e. school board meetings?


    What can our community reasonably expect for follow up to see that complaints are substantiated where warranted and problems are corrected?

    This is a period of opportunity for our district community to come together and solve key problems in our schools, but we don't have any time to waste. Resources are stretched to the limit-- but we all want MDUSD to thrive.

    The public is ready to do the work involved to address these issues head on to create the best learning environment possible for our 36,000 students and garner greater respect and confidence in our educational program.

    What can we do to make a significant difference in our classrooms and on all corners of our campuses this August?

  22. Where are the instructions for getting the worst school in America (Oak Grove) shut down? Do I start a petition? What exactly is the process?

  23. Anonymous 10:16,
    even if you did manage to shut down that school, you still have to go. Just because a school closes doesn't mean the kids stop getting an education. Go outside and play or something!

  24. I finally can no longer just sit and read all these messages; I have to say something too. I hope all of the people commenting on this issue have kids in this class, because otherwise I have to tell you, you don't know what was going on. This was a class of students who struggle with Algebra and so the school felt it was perfectly fine to put a teacher in there with a hard to understand accent. Hmmmm... You don't have to be a brain surgeon to know that this is a bad mix. When my daughter tried to ask questions, the teacher would tell her to be quiet and do her work... One time during a test she was one of the last ones to finish, he tells her to hurry up. A minute later he tells her to copy her neighbor’s results..... Should I continue? Another time he told the class that they were even more stupid then the special Ed class. Wow what encouragement! After checking on homelink, I saw that she had some outstanding work, I tried to get to contact him, but he never responded. Than when she finally got all her work turned in, he loses all of it! The tip of all the things was when he gave her a referral for singing and using her iPod, which she didn't (I had that confirmed by a student who is not her friend) and then was told by the office, that she is scum and doesn't deserve to go this school!
    So, while I agree, the behavior of the small group of students is horrible and disrespectful, I believe it got out of hand because he didn't teach and let it go out of hand from the start. He should have called for a mandatory parent meeting to address the behavior issues back in November!
    So was he a bad teacher - I don't know, he had other classes and I don't know if they had the same issues; but I do think that he was a bad match for this particular class and the whole thing got handled the wrong way!
    FYI: The girl that video taped this whole mess got her record cleared after this got into the news. Interesting!

  25. This Clayton girl is not a good student, there is much more to this story, ask about her GPA. She set up this incident...