Discipline in Schools
I really believe in discipline. I was a strong disciplinarian. I believe if you’ve got discipline you can teach anything. But you have to be consistent and fair. I probably was the last person who swatted a kid at school. When the Board made that policy, I probably swatted a kid two or three hours before that. I swatted the kid, but I always had a witness. My belief was “I gave you a swat because you needed it.” My question was then “Tell me why you got that swat?” And they would tell me why.
You may recall once I had a list in the newspaper of all my paddles. I always gave the kids a chance to pick the paddle. Their choice. And sometimes, when I swatted, I’d give them just a tap. I knew when they needed a swat. I had an old saying with the kids, “I’m not going to give you a swat today. I’m not in the mood to swat you. You owe me a swat.” To this day I have kids remind me “You never gave me that swat.” And I tell them, “I know, but that wasn’t my purpose!” You find ways to discipline kids. But they all feel that I was fair. Now they see it. Did I keep everybody happy? Nope! My first year I thought I would have 100% support with everything I did. That’s the biggest mistake you make. I learned later on that I can keep you happy today, but I won’t keep you happy tomorrow. 50% will be happy either way. So I learned that I will do what is best for the kid, not for me. I could deal with any parent.
We had some tough kids. But we had a good superintendent, Dr. Skaggs, and the Board. We worked together well. They didn’t get too involved. The superintendent let us run our schools unless we messed up, which we very seldom did because we knew what we needed to do. And the community has grown. You can see the number of schools we have. I feel that we need more minority teachers, but they are hard to find. I used to go recruiting all over for the district. Dr. Skaggs would send me and make sure I had an opportunity to hire minorities if I could find them. But there were very few. I think the last year, when I left Mesquite in the year 2000, I think I had about half my staff who were minority. But you had to be qualified and believe in my philosophy that you teach all kids the same—I don’t care who they were or what they wore, they’re all human.