Teachers Question Haley Barbour's School Discipline Ad - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/17/03

Teachers Question Haley Barbour's School Discipline Ad

Haley Barbour's campaign commercial about education is raising some eyebrows among teachers.

The thirty second television ad talks about improving public schools. But it's the tag line that's attracting attention.

In the ad's closing seconds, the candidate speaks about discipline.

"I think a computer in every classroom is a good idea, but I think discipline in every classroom is a better idea," says Barbour, in the ad's tag line.

The ad promotes classroom discipline, but what exactly does that mean?

Kelly Norris reviewed a lesson with her afternoon Spanish class at Biloxi High School. She says Haley Barbour's campaign catch phrase about student discipline is a popular topic among teachers.

"I think he's insinuating that there isn't discipline in the classroom. That he's trying to get parental support to back him and say, we need to do something, I'll work with the parents. And I actually mentioned to a colleague, it sounds like he's running against the teachers and not Ronnie Musgrove," said Norris.

Teachers say effective discipline is obviously a key element in any successful classroom. But educators we talked with say Barbor's message suggests that's missing.

Betty Jean Hughes is a veteran teacher who finds the Barbour ad a little unnerving.

"Well, I thought he meant we don't have discipline in our classrooms. And we do. I've been teaching for 43 years, and this year, as in every year in the past, we've had good discipline," she said.

WLOX News caught up with the candidate during a campaign stop at the Harrison County Jail. We asked about that "discipline in every classroom" phrase.

"Children cannot learn in an undisciplined environment. The best teacher cannot teach where there is no discipline. And discipline doesn't cost money. But discipline takes commitment. It takes priority. It takes leadership. And that leadership should start with the governor," said Barbour.

We pressed him for specifics, but he answered with only general suggestions for change.

Teachers say they understand education is often a favorite topic among candidates.

"As far as the statement, I think it's just a political overtone statement to get attention," said driver's education teacher, Joseph Brown.

The ad will continue to attract attention. It's among a series of Barbour spots rotating between now and the November election.

By Steve Phillips

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