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Paul Ruiz, a principal partner at The Education Trust, has his own sad but inspiring story. He comes from a family of 15 whose parents emigrated from Mexico. His teachers in San Antonio, Texas, about 40 years ago did not believe he could learn.
Some kids dream of being a cowboy one day. Growing up in a competitive family with five brothers, Esperanza Zendejas actually became one. In a culture dominated by men, she learned to stand on her own and up for herself. "There was no such thing as something that was only appropriate for my brothers," she says.
The pursuit of learning can be derailed in schools plagued by discipline problems. This is certainly not news to principals and teachers. Research confirms their intuitions about the connection between discipline and achievement. One recent study found that classroom behavior, rather than class size, was a primary factor associated with improved achievement. On the whole, research suggests that improvements in school discipline will create an environment more conducive to academic achievement.
Airing Out Old Concerns
--W. James Popham, professor emeritus, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies