Opinion: Hold teachers accountable with online reporting system

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Two months ago, we reported on an insensitive comment made by a teacher toward student as a result of her race.

And despite Lincoln’s efforts to encourage diversity and equity, we can imagine several more of these types of incidents happen in our classrooms and halls each year and go unreported. In addition, some teachers will sometimes assign unreasonable tasks, pick on specific students, or assign a meaningless activity rather than a lesson.

Observations by administrators don’t work. As with most humans, teachers tend to act differently when they know they are being watched.  And the students who are the victims of such situations often feel too embarrassed to report them or think their complaint is not strong enough to justify a face-to-face report to an administrator.

This is not to discredit teachers, in any way. All of Lincoln’s teachers are highly qualified educators. But there are times when they slip, and, in a school environment, these cannot happen.

There is a simple way to fix this. Lincoln must create a student reporting system for issues in classrooms, where administrators don’t have eyes all the time. The school already uses Google Forms to submit news to the weekly bulletin and for event sign-ups. Why not create another one?

Some would argue that this system could be easily abused by students joking around or angry about a bad grade. However, there are a few simple safeguards to prevent this.

First, the form can require students include their name and student ID. Only administrators will see the submissions, so there is no fear that the reporter could become known to other students or the teacher. Not only does it ensure only real Lincoln students use the system, the name requirement means students will know they can be held accountable for false submissions.

In addition, the reporting system should require multiple reports before action is taken. Only when an issue is bad enough that several  feel that it warrants reporting will the report be considered. In the example of unfair treatment of a single student, this check requires that the student persuade others that the problem is real.

Microaggressions, consistent unfair treatment of certain students, even busy work that students feel is not helping them learn, could all be reported using this system.

Problems involving other students could be reported, as well.

After receiving multiple reports of an incident, administrators can interview other students in the class, and, eventually, the teacher. It will save time in the investigative process, as administrators will already have written accounts of the event as well as contact information.

This system will improve the school experience for everyone and make sure students are receiving the full education they deserve.