The Zero-Tolerance Policy

The Zero-Tolerance Policy

By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor

Many school districts enforce zero-tolerance rules to help ensure safety. There is an ongoing academic debate on the effectiveness of zero-tolerance. Skiba (2014) points out that for the last 20 years, fear for the welfare of our children has led us down a “no-nonsense” path of increased punishment and school exclusion in responding to school and community disruption through an approach that has come to be known as zero tolerance.

Objective of paper

The zero tolerance policy in schools created a stance that supported expulsion, detentions, or suspensions. However, this policy has been analyzed as a tool to find discrimination in our society by ways of racial profiling, and stereotyping. The objective of this paper is to iron out what the zero tolerance policy is allowing teachers, administrators, and community professionals to carry out. Suspension and expulsion may set individuals who already display antisocial behavior on an accelerated course to delinquency by putting them in a situation in which there is a lack of parental supervision and a greater opportunity to socialize with other deviant peers.

Further, expulsion results in the denial of educational services, presenting specific legal as well as ethical dilemmas for student with disabilities. Finally, there is no evidence that removing students from school makes a positive contribution to school safety (National Association of School Psychologists, 2015).

Definition(s) of Zero Tolerance

Gage et al., (2013) point out that zero tolerance policies are sometimes instituted to establish a clear understanding about expectations for acceptable and unacceptable student behavior. Mongan and Walker (2012) point out with the passing of the Gun Free School Act of 1994, the 1990s bore witness to the birth of zerotolerance policies.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), zero tolerance is defined as “consistently enforced suspension and expulsion policies in response to weapons, drugs, and violent acts in the school setting.”

According to Black (2015) Zero tolerance policies have expanded the categories of behavior for which a student can and must be suspended and expelled. As reflected by Kennedy-Lewis (2014) the increasing use of zero tolerance discipline policies in the USA has led to a “discipline gap,” in which minoritized students receive harsher and more frequent suspensions and expulsions than their peers from dominant cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Gage et al., (2013) state that the use of “zero tolerance,” which was first used in 1983 by the Navy with submarine crewmembers who were suspected of drug abuse.

Pros and Cons of Zero Tolerance

Zero tolerance policies within the landscape of urban education post Brown v. Board of Education present academic debate. School discipline has emerged as a critical arena in the quest for racial equity in education as a growing body of literature demonstrates that urban students of color are disproportionately subjected to punitive discipline as a result of zero tolerance policies (Triplett et al., 2014). The victims of inadvertent violations of zero tolerance policies are those students who are the subject of the news pieces highlighting the absurdities of zero tolerance (Morton, 2014).

Analysis by Triplett et al., (2014) reveals that through the mechanism of zero tolerance, a nation of urban minority students have been and continue to be punished for the actions of predominantly white, suburban/rural gunmen. Black (2015) suggests that as important as progressive policy developments are—and some are gaining momentum—past experience with contested educational practices suggests that zero tolerance and harsh discipline will remain all too prevalent unless courts intervene to protect students’ constitutional rights.

Therefore, zero tolerance and harsh discipline policies routinely violate all of the foregoing substantive due process principles (Black, 2015). Morton (2014) states that zero tolerance policies prevent administrators from fully considering the circumstances of each student, which can produce overly harsh results. Furthermore, there is no proof that these exclusionary zero tolerance policies actually make schools safer or significantly deter misbehavior.

Specific examples

In response to decreasing weapons at school, the latest issue of The Indicators of School Crime and Safety report (Robers, Zhang, & Truman, 2010) indicates that weapon possession in the total student population decreased from 12% in 1993 to 6% in 1999. That result suggests that zero-tolerance weapons policies may be an effective deterrence.

The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) extended zero tolerance policies beyond disciplinary infractions into the realm of actual educational performance. Indeed, the construction of an “at risk” and criminalized population is sutured to the narrow Criminological Complicity in the School-to-Prison Pipeline epistemology that promotes accountability through standardized testing via the neoliberal capitalist logics of accountability and individual responsibility (Schept et al., 2015).

The National Association of School Psychologists (2015) states that according to data from the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Safe and Responsive Schools, at least 75% of schools report having zero tolerance policies for such serious offenses as: firearms (94%), weapons other than firearms (91%), alcohol (87%), drugs (88%), violence (79%), and tobacco (79%).

Your stance on the topic

My stance on the zero tolerance policy would stem to an alternative plan consisting of three main point: mental health counseling in schools, mandatory violence prevention training for all students, and early intervention training in controlling ones desires to break the rules. First, mental health counseling in schools can not only protect other students from the bodily harm of an out of control student, but can help parents in managing their children and families.

Second, mandatory violence prevention is just a good way to get the community involved in reducing events of school dropouts or worse, school shootings.

Finally, early intervention training can teach students to use rational thinking in hopes in reducing school violence and crime. An example of early intervention training is offered by the NASP (2015) and it states some examples of proven practices including First Step to Success (kindergarten) and Positive Adolescent Choices Training (developed for African American youth).

What should a school leader do to address behaviors that tend to be repeated in a school or district?

School leaders can simply rely on legislation behind the zero tolerance law and by the leadership of their school principal, or try to find ways in advocating for students who are innocent, or wrongly accused without over stepping their boundaries at their job. Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) is an effective framework for creating school environments that promote appropriate behavior for all students.

Within that framework, preventive methods are incorporated that address the behavior of all students, including targeted groups of students and students needing intensive individualized support (McKevitt and Braaksma (2014). Furthermore, school leaders should address the creation of more time in professional development for teachers and other staff members in the creation of a team environment whom are all on the same page about managing behavior before it escalates out of control and leads to a school shooting where people get hurt, physically and emotionally.

Do you believe zero-tolerance policies are appropriate for any and all situations? Why or why not?

I believe that zero tolerance policies are too strict. They fail to focus on a solution to unnecessary rough behavior and why these behaviors are happening. McKevitt and Braaksma (2014) point out that school policy regarding behavior should describe the proactive approach On one hand, all students no matter what their behavioral patterns should be kept at the same level of expectations regarding school behavior. However, on the other hand, not all students have the same attitudes and personalities. The zero tolerance policy is a good law, it just needs a little flexibility.


Although zero tolerance policies were developed to assure consistent and firm consequences for dangerous behaviors, broad application of these policies has resulted in a range of negative outcomes with few if any benefits to students or the school community (NASP, 2015). Skiba (2014) states at the core of zero tolerance philosophy and policy is the presumption that strong enforcement can act as a deterrent to other potentially disruptive students. Relying primarily upon school exclusion—out-of-school suspension and expulsion and increases in security and police presence—the philosophy of zero tolerance is based on the “broken-window” theory.

The theory is that communities must react to even minor disruptions in the social order with relatively strong force in order to “send a message” that certain behaviors will not be tolerated. Proven discipline strategies that provide more effective alternatives to broad zero tolerance policies should be implemented to ensure that all students have access to an appropriate education in a safe environment (NASP, 2015).


Advancement Project CD. (2009, May 21). ABC NEWS Zero Tolerance School Discipline Policies [Video File].

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Skiba, R. J. (2000). Zero Tolerance, Zero Evidence: An Analysis of School Disciplinary Practice. Policy Research Report, SRS2.

The National Association of School Psychologists. (2001). Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers. Bethesda, MD.

Triplett, Nicholas P.; Allen, Ayana; Lewis, Chance W. Journal of Negro Education. Summer2014, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p352-370. 19p.

Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies. Retrieved from:

The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.


Exploring the Flynn Effect

Exploring the Flynn Effect

By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor


This essay will explore some of the statistical data that has been found over the years in the study of the Flynn Effect. In addition to sharing my personal connection to the Flynn Effect’s role in standardized IQ testing, I will attempt to answer why the rise in performance on IQ tests contrast with a steady decline in performance over the past decade on many standardized tests. Furthermore, I will examine the question of why IQ test results tend to differ among ethnic groups, and upon the examination of the Flynn Effect, if my perceptions change or stay the same.

Introducing the Flynn Effect

The Flynn Effect is not only a phenomenon of human intelligence, but described as a long-term trend towards rising scores on IQ tests, which results in “norms obsolescence” as researched by: Trehan, Stuebing, Fletcher and Hiscock (2014). The Flynn effect, named for psychologist James Flynn who researched the rise in the average intelligence quotient (IQ) scores in countries such as the U.S. between 1950 and 2000 (Fischer, 2013). Notably suggested by Beaujean and Yanyan (2014), the Flynn Effect has had a forensic influence, most notably since the US Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) that it was cruel and unusual to execute someone with an intellectual difficulty; as IQ scores are a substantial piece of evidence.

IQ Scores and their Meaning

IQ scores are set at a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 16, which gives psychologists a classification system in determining whether a subject is intellectually deficient (70<) or intellectually superior (130>). In a similar use, the 68-95-99.7 rule states that about 68% (more precisely, 68.3%) of the scores are within one standard deviation of the mean. Therefore, about 100% – 68% = 32% of the scores are more than one standard deviation from the mean (Bennett, et al pp. 171, 2014). Because of the 68-95-99.7 rule, a researcher can state that a 68% of a population has an IQ score in-between 80-120 and 32% have an IQ score in-between 70-110.

Focus on Psychology: Are We Smarter than Our Parents?

There is no doubt that today’s children are smarter than their parents, or children from a century ago. This article takes readers back to the late 1800’s when Alfred Binet created a test to help children in need. Binet took a child’s mental age and divided it by the physical age and then multiplied by 100 to define the intelligence quotient (IQ). Further, the article covers how an IQ is defined today by ways of a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 16. Then the article took an interesting turn by asking about personal awareness in the current controversies that surround the reliability of IQ test scores.

The first question stated if IQ tests measure intelligence, or something else? And secondly, if they did measure intelligence, can that be measured by environmental or educational factors? A current answer would say “yes” because IQ scores are adjusted to fit normal distributions with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 16. In other words, scoring is on a curve, which makes it practically unheard of to expect IQ scores to rise or fall with time. With all aside, in the 1980’s a professor named Dr. Flynn made a different discovery that led to the Flynn Effect Theory. Raw scores could be used in finding abstract reasoning abilities in a long-term trend that increased IQ rates by 6 points a decade.

The Flynn Effect and the Raven’s Progressive Matrix

This is where my personal experience chimes in. In second grade, my son’s teacher noticed something special in his ability to address reasoning with logic. After the paperwork was finished, he was sent to the school psychologist who tested my son’s IQ and abstract reasoning by ways of the Ravens Progressive Matrix (RPM) which is a “G” intelligence measuring instrument, a test of intellectual capacity, and a 60 item, multiple choice test that measures abstract reasoning by ways of patterns that get progressively harder to solve.

The Flynn effect is quite noticeable in G- loaded tests, as is the case in the Raven’s Progressive Matrix. Armstrong and Woodley (2014) added that the Flynn effect is directly analogous to IQ gains via retesting, noting that Raven’s Progressive Matrices is particularly sensitive to both the effects of retesting and the Flynn effect. Haywood (2013) points out that the most prominent positive effect has been on scores on intelligence tests such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Silverman (2013) found out that the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) appears to be the most popular intelligence scale worldwide.

With all research aside, my son tested as being a second grader within the top 15% of the San Diego Unified School District with “above superior intelligence” and an IQ of 144. The San Diego School District’s set standards of identification for the GATE program are as follows: Cluster identification- Ravens score of at least 98%ile plus factors, and Seminar identification constitutes a Ravens score of 99.6-99.9%ile plus factors. Factors expressed are related to economics, language and special education. Scores are then taken and compared to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for an IQ variance. For instance, if a student scores a 99.6%, then their IQ would be 144 and if the student scored a 98%, their IQ would be 132.

In addition to assessing a child’s IQ, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) has also been useful in correctly identifying gifted and talented children. (Wellisch & Brown, 2011). Silverman, (2013) speculates that a single IQ score is not enough and closes opportunities where one or two points are the cut off to a quality education.

Upon recommendation, my son was assessed again by ways of the Ravens Progressive Matrix. He scored the exact same score as he did in second grade which points to a very reliable methodology in determining the intellectual needs of high functioning students. To this day, my son is in advanced placement classes in the sixth grade which are taught by fully credentialed seminary teachers within the San Diego Unified School District. Just because my son has tested into gifted and talented education (GATE), does not mean that he is smarter than everyone, it just means that his abstract reasoning gives him the ability to interpret theory on a different level, thus he works through common core standards with complete comprehension and finishes faster than his peers. Because of my personal experience in this, I am contemplating taking on this research to formulate my dissertation.

My Views of the Flynn Effect

The Flynn Effect did not measure intelligence, but encouraged a second look at our children’s ability to use logical and abstract thinking. Moreover, the Flynn Effect increased scores that resulted from environmental factors. My view of the Flynn Effect also takes into consideration the past 100 years where children were part of a family whereabouts the mother was always home and the father went to work. These days, children were sheltered from the outside world and matured slower than children in today’s society. Worldly intelligence was slower to develop 100 years ago.

However, in the last several decades, children all over the world are acquiring intelligence earlier, maturing physically and mentally faster than ever. An ever-growing exposure to highly technological devices (iPad, eBooks and laptops) are bringing young children into a different environment of thinking where educational games are encouraging classification, abstract thinking and a use of logic to solve problems. I can vouch for these games because I enjoy the ones where logic is being challenged and I encourage my son to play along.

Wrapping it up, the Flynn Effect is just where it should be and demonstrating consistency as applied to today’s highly technical environment. The scores that are increasing with the Flynn Effect are a reliable sign of the changing of times. My advice is to keep exposing young children to abstract and creative ways to develop their intellectual thinking and their ideas. Exposure to classic art and music is a great start.

Why does the rise in performance on IQ tests contrast with a steady decline in performance over the past decade on many standardized tests?

The answer to this question all relies on the environmental factors involved. Starting from a modern perspective, Today’s IQ tests are scoring on the ability to unleash abstract and logical thinking with creative questions and diagrams. Relating the scores on a child’s environmental factors, (mental age/physical age) points to the sign of changing times in the past decade. The Flynn Effect has opened up a new world of intelligence to the combined environmental factors in a person’s life. Over the last decade, social media hit the ground running and education is offered online, where over five decades ago it was not. These two factors alone are giving the Flynn Effect more power to research the further effects of the environment as it relates to intelligence. On a deeper plane, I wonder if research has been conducted yet as to what percent of our brains we are using in 2014, as compared to the year 1900.

Why do results on IQ tests tend to differ among different ethnic groups?

First and foremost, all races have an equal ability to release intelligence. Truly, there should not be any gaps between ethnic groups, nor their ability to perform. Kaufman (2010) enlightens that one way to collaborate the results of an IQ test to those of an ethnic group is the Dickens and Flynn’s ‘social multiplier effect’. Their proposed effect takes into account the importance of culture in influencing what particular forms of intelligence it educates, spotlights, and nurtures. The Flynn Effect links race and ethnicity to many environmental factors such as athleticism. For example, there are many countries that are serious about sportsmanship. Every four years, the world’s greatest athletes gather for the Olympics. Not only are the athletes great at what they do, but they were trained, taught and influenced by genetic and environmental factors that made them into intelligent athletes that have one goal in mind, to persevere. Only by environmental factors can research address if IQ tests differ among ethnic groups. Upon my research, I would say “yes”, results do differ according to environmental factors.

Did the Flynn Effect change my perception about IQ tests?

Absolutely! The Flynn Effect has reached a new level, encouraging researchers and psychologists that intelligence can be a central factor of one’s environment. This glass half full, unbiased approach to the decoding of intelligence quotients is motivational and offers a light at the end of the tunnel. On the flip side, environmental factors are not always positive. This is why it is very important for the psychologist to note, for the purpose of statistics, if the subject has questionable environmental factors because these could affect the test results. In wrapping it up, I am pleased by the knowledge that I have obtained about the Flynn Effect. Everything that I have read and researched about in writing this paper verifies that I am giving my son the right support to help him develop his abstract thinking in a deeper sense. I will continue to enhance his environment with challenging academia and a healthy lifestyle.


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The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.





Topic: Bullying

Topic: Bullying

By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor

Incidentally, bullying can hinder a student’s ability to learn and enjoy the school experience. I am sure that all parents would agree that school should be a safe and trustworthy place for their kids to be away from home. Although kids can expect peer pressure once and a while, sometimes it can spiral out of control and turn into a form of bullying that will continue throughout the year and continue into the next. Unfortunately, most bullying goes undetected and the victims are too afraid to come forward due to risk of more bullying or bodily harm. Sadly, students are being bullied in public places such as bathrooms, hallways and school buses to name a few.  More importantly, students need to find ways to motivate their self-confidence, overcome feelings of no self-worth and exit their cycles of being a victim of bullying for good.

Physical Bullying

Overall, physical bullying is the worst form of bullying. It includes tripping, hitting, and pushing and can cross the line very easily into sexual harassment. According to Beran (2008) physical bullying is more common in boys than in girls. Boys use it mostly to show male domination. In contrast, girls use indirect bullying by ways of gossiping, rumors and threats. On the other hand, Barbara Coloroso, famed author of the book: The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander states that: bullying, whether it is a boy or girl, involves calling others names, making sexual remarks, aggressive emails and phone calls, racial comments, cruel jokes, spreading rumors, violent threats, and gossip. Granted, this does open up the realm of bullying to standard terms, however does not solve the issue of who’s to blame.

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying can really take a toll on the emotions of its victim. Overtime, verbal bullying can lead to anxiety, depression and lastly; suicide. Granted there are many types of bullying, verbal bullying seems to cause the most pain over a long period of time. Thanks to the research of Kasetchi Laeheem (2013) writer for the Asian Social Science Journal, association of bullying behaviors came from classroom management factor such as: democratic, authoritarian and permissive styles of teaching and from family upbringing factors such as: strict, permissive and democratic parenting methods. Further, influence of parental violence in the household was a strong predictor of students bullying behavior. In contrast, “bullying is a product of his or her problematic background, such as poor parenting, lots of quarrels and conflicts at home, divorce, abuse, or harsh non-loving parents.” (Thornberg,R. & Knutsen, S. (2011). Furthermore, bullying points to a cause of psychological distress in reference to dealing with individualized living situations.


Cyberbullying, or otherwise known as cyber stalking is when a perpetrator uses social media induced information technology. On their cell phones, iPads, tablets and computers, bullies deliver mean spirited hostile behavior to a victim. From research, I discovered that the bullies who use this form of torcher are or were bullied in person and this is their payback. Granted, parental involvement is key…some cases are never caught until it is too late and serious damage or death has occurred.

One of the saddest things to hear on the news is how the popular social media tool,  Facebook is knowingly harboring teenage bullying in private messages, which in turn is leading to suicide. As the internet offers instantaneous satisfaction of entertainment needs, mainly in social media, the risk for your child’s private bullying by a stranger is just as high. V.B. Draa from the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences stated that most networking sites are required by law to provide a list of rules and terms of service that apply to users that forbid cyberbullying actions. Nevertheless, some people cannot see the “small print” and realistically never know it is there. I firmly believe that rules, regulations and terms of usage should be in large print and pop up before a consumer logs on to a suspected social media site.

Given these important points concerning life and death, lawmakers are continuously working on further legislation against cyberbullying. Upon research, I located a website ( that gives the current laws from each state for educators, or concerned advocates to refer to about protecting victims of bullying. For instance, California passed a law called the SB719-Bully Prevention for School Safety and Crime Reduction Act of 2003. California’s interest in making their concerns about bullying a law speculates that this state has had many cases of bullying that have led to death.  By ways of contrast, Colorado has no official anti bullying law, but a legislative declaration and policy to refer to. Colorado’s interest in a bullying law is not as severe as California’s stand which underscores that in this state, bullying is not on the rise.  In any case, each state seems to have laws and legislations regarding bullying, but truly needs to enforce their policies more to avoid further psychological harm of the victims of bullying.

Social Bullying

Social bullying, or otherwise known as relational aggression is a form of bullying that I have experienced. It led me to quit school in the tenth grade and run away from Connecticut to California. People who I thought were friends gained my trust, broke it intentionally and belittled me as much as they could. These bullies would wait for me to walk by after school, under the stairs and hold me there until they broke my self-esteem with constant negative comments about me and my family. They threatened me that if I ever told anyone, I would get my ass kicked.

I held this social bullying in for so long that it broke me and I quit school just to get away from it. I remember the look on my mother’s face when I signed the paperwork to quit school at a meeting with the principal and counselors. It was too late now. I really should have said something earlier. The anxiety, depression and trust issues from this experience were very hard to overcome. In San Diego, California, I went back to school and earned my high school diploma in 1988. In the year 2000, I became a teacher with a full bag of diamonds to share about self-esteem and character building.

Furthermore, I was pleased to find an article written by Smith, P and Birney, L. (2005) that spoke about a plan that would include the principal’s support of teachers to protect students with watchful eyes from the predators of bullying in schools across the country. I truly believe that with this kind of support from the principal that all public school organizations could be well-functioning ones with trust across the board.

Emotional Bullying

According to a case study about emotional bullying causing long-term emotional problems, Bond, L; Carlin, J.B.; Thomas, L.; Rubin, K.; & Patton, G. (2001) discovered in a meta-analysis that the relation between victimization and psychosocial maladjustment found a stronger association with measures of depression than with anxiety, loneliness, or general self-esteem. By way of contrast, Carbo, J. & Hughes, A. (2010) believe that emotional bullying causes later issues in the workplace of anxiety, frustration and burnout.

However, one thing is certain. If you are a victim of bullying, there is always trustworthy help out there. Never should a victim of bullying hold anything in due to anxiety or depression, but find a professional to help them overcome their fears and save themselves from potential post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Gay Bullying

Alternately, gay bullying is on the rise in America. Back in September of the year 2000, I began to step up and support bullying by speaking publically about my experiences in high school. In the same month, a story surfaced out of Tehachapi, California whereabouts a young 13 year old boy committed suicide due to being chronically bullied for his sexual orientation. Seth Walsh was a lover of cheese burgers, Pokémon cards, disco music and an “A” student, but what Seth was coming to terms with was he was gay and the bullies targeted him immediately.

Seth Walsh became depressed and withdrawn. People he thought were friends were calling him names and socially profiling him everywhere he went. He was a victim of social and emotional bulling. At one point, Seth was afraid to use the restroom in fear that he would get beat up by his peers. Seth’s mother tried countless times to get the school district to do something, but nothing was done. The worse happened. Seth hung himself in the back yard of his house. He was on life support for nine days, and pronounced dead on the tenth. There are far too many stories out there recently about stereotypical profiling and something must be done about this. On Facebook, I created a page called: “NO MORE BULLYING”. This is a place where people can go to and get help, tell their stories and feel safe. I plan to continue to grow this page in the future to really make a difference in the lives of the victims of bullying.

What can be done about Bullying?

While parental awareness is key to a child’s well-being, there are signs to look for if you suspect that your child is a victim of bullying. Is your child socially isolated? Would he/she rather play in their room alone than with friends outside? Do their school books seem like they are damaged or ripped? Are there unexplainable cuts, bruises or scratches on your child? Is your child experiencing bad dreams at night, or are they crying in their sleep? Lastly, does your child seem to be sad, anxious or depressed when getting ready for school? If so, then I would suggest to make an appointment with the school counselor, principal and teacher right away.

Thankfully, teachers and parents are integrating the importance of building character in their students’ elementary school years. In the event that a student may encounter a bullying situation, their strong character would lead the student on the right track so they can continue to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.


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Olweus, D. (1997). Bully/victim problems in school: Facts and intervention. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 12, 495-510.

Shore, K. (2005). The ABC’s of bullying prevention: A comprehensive school wide approach. Port Chester, NY: Dude Publishing

Smith, P. A., & Birney, L. L. (2005). The organizational trust of elementary schools and dimensions of student bullying. The International Journal of Educational Management, 19(6),469-485.Retrievedfrom

Thornberg, R., & Knutsen, S. (2011). Teenagers’ explanations of bullying. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40(3), 177-192. doi:

The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.

Adolescent Learning and School Law

Adolescent Learning and School Law

By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor


Before potential educators become public servants in their school districts, they muster through classes that cover disciplines from adolescent learning to school law. They learn in their studies that without hesitation, teachers to be are held responsible for their knowledge and upkeep of the amendments while in the light of the public window. After all, it is only proper for a teacher to instruct using clear and simple directions within school law, and rules that even the most culturally diverse can understand. Schools are safe places for children and adults to learn.

This provides parents with reasonable assurance that their children are safe and under the supervision of professional, responsible adults. This culmination of everything I have learned in this course will relate and further research what is being done in the constant management of the population of exceptional children in special education and the no child left behind law.

Teaching in the field of Special Education

For all potential educators who choose to pursue a credential in special education, the Public Law 94-142 – Education of All Handicapped Children Act is a part of history that needs to be taken seriously and followed the same. Passed in 1975, Public Law 94-142 guarantee’s each school age and preschool child to the right of a free and appropriate education in a least restrictive environment. Public schools must provide education for all students with exceptionalities between the ages of 3 and 21 years. Since the inception of PL 94-142, the law has been modified and refined; today the law has been enhanced and replaced by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.

History of Public Law 94-142

Back in 1975 when Public Law 94-142 became an act, there were more than eight million handicapped children in the United States whose educational services were just beginning to be met.  More than half of the handicapped children in the United States did not receive appropriate educational services which would enable them to have full equality of opportunity.

One million of the handicapped children in the United States were excluded entirely from the public school system and did not go through the educational process with their peers. “The state’s commitment to educating all children can be framed as a matter of  human capital development, or the economic benefits accrued to individuals and society as a result of educational attainment; it can be framed as a matter of capabilities, or the development of functioning’s that enable human flourishing; and it can be framed as a matter of rights.” Ben-Porath (2012).

In 2010, the United States Department of Education began to offer four purposes of the law that articulated a compelling national mission to improve access to education for children with disabilities. The four purposes were quoted by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to: (1) assure that all children with disabilities have available to them, a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs (2) to assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. (3)to assist States and localities to provide for the education of all children with disabilities, and (4) to assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate all children with disabilities.

Individuals with Disabilities Act

According to the United States Department of Education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. (

According to the 22nd Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2000), in the 1998/1999 school year, 11% of the school-age population received special education services. That translates to more than 5 million students ages 6 to 17, a 34.5% increase since 1987/1988. The increase in enrollment of the entire school-age population during the same time period, however, was only 17%. In 1988/ 1989, 30% of the students receiving special education services were in a special education setting for approximately one fifth or less of their school day. Weiss & John (2002).

Eligibility under IDEA includes: the IEP, bus service, Special Day Classes and wheelchair ramps for schools. According to Crowley, (2013) Modifications designed to fulfill the act’s goal of equal access, such as wheelchair ramps, have become common since the act was signed into law. The Individuals with Disabilities Act is also tightly aligned with The No Child Left Behind Act that offers schools and their states financial incentives for improvement to their special education services.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

The NCLB Act of 2001 was intended to ensure that all children receive high-quality education and thereby “close the achievement gap between high- and low-performing children, especially the achievement gaps between minority and non-minority students, and between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers” (Public Law No. 107-110, § 6301 (3), 2002).

This act was not only to demonstrate accountability of teachers and their districts, but also for an improved scoring capability in math and english. Accountability is the focus of the current NCLB policy, which addresses the academic achievement of America’s youth and especially the difference in test scores that exists between low-income and minority students and their middle-class counterparts. Rowley & Wright (2011). This seems to be a hot topic in today’s research about the NCLB Act.

However, if a teacher perceives a student to be inefficient in the dominant culture due to atypical behaviors or codes of speech, or to be of average or lower intelligence, there is a higher possibility of academic failure. A teacher’s or administrator’s expectations become directly related to a student’s educational expectations. Also, a teacher’s ability to address cultural diversity in the classroom in relation to the teacher’s social location has an impact on a student’s academic success, which highly reflects how students react to peer pressure.

IEP- Individualized Education Program

To provide for the needs of students with exceptionalities, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) must be developed for the child by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team, which sets the parameters of educational services, modifications and accommodations to be provided for the child with exceptionalities. The IEP is a legally binding document and is an education road map which the district must adhere to in educating the child.        

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, each public school child who receives special education and related services under The No Child Left Behind Act and The Individuals with Disabilities Act, must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.

The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff and often the student must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs. These individuals pool knowledge, experience and commitment to design an educational program that will help the student be involved in, and progress in, the general curriculum.

The IEP as a Lawful Document

By law, the IEP as a document must include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. This information covers topics such as current performance, annual goals, special education and related services, accommodations, participation in state and district-wide tests, needed transition services and measured progress.

Special education and IEP law were generally developed first at the federal level and then at the state level. If there is ever a conflict between state and federal law, federal law must be followed. The basis for most IEP law is found in three federal statutes, The Individual with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act.  

IEP as an Insurance Policy

A major concern states that since the content of the IEP is legally binding, teachers should be able to describe how you would ensure what is included in the IEP to ensure the student needs are being met? As a parent of a child who has had an IEP since Kindergarten, I consider myself a professional about the vitality of this question. On the first page of an IEP packet are dates that stand for when the initial IEP was done, the project date of placement, next review of the IEP and when the triennial meeting would be set.

 Moving down the front page of the official IEP document, are some more dates that ensure that the child will receive services associated with his/her individualized education program. For my son, services are listed as speech and language and adapted PE with starting and ending dates, frequency of classes per week and for how many minutes per class session.

On the second page is sufficient room for the student’s present levels of performance including strengths and weaknesses per date, communication, motor skills, social and emotional development per date, and at the bottom, a place to address how the student’s disability affects the involvement and progress in learning general curriculum.

Moving on through the packet comes a chance for the IEP team to assess goals and benchmarks. What is great about this page, is it gives the parents the actual dates that the goals and benchmarks are to be accomplished by. As a parent in this IEP group, I found this to be very comforting and professional for my growing son’s constant improvement.

What is the plan?

Another question of vital importance discusses that school district (s) may have limited funding and the modifications or accommodations included in an IEP are beyond the districts per pupil expenditure and the district administration may not support such spending and opposes what is included in the plan. The first thing I would look into is if the school is within compliance with IDEA and The No Child Left Behind Act. If so, there is no amount of money that this school would not receive for making services for children with disabilities suppler.

The National Council on Disability (NCD) offers an answer to this question. NCD joins the voices of concern from individuals with disabilities, their families, and their advocates across the country about inadequate funding for special education. NCD recommends Congress adopt mandatory funding in keeping with the original commitment from the Federal Government to fund 40 percent of the per pupil cost of special education. In this regard, NCD also recommends Congress tie full funding of IDEA to full enforcement of IDEA, specifically, the implementation of the recommendations listed above. (

Parental Involvement in an IEP

Knowing the importance of an IEP and student rights, a special education teacher and school principal would surely know how a member of the IEP team could advocate for the rights of the student (s), legal resources that a parent or parents can take against a district of the IEP is not being followed, and if the services provided are not meeting the needs for the child with exceptionalities. As a parent of a special needs child, who is now an adult, my son and I try to stay involved with the community and volunteer at schools, advocate for the needs of children to be met and just be people that they can talk to or relate to.

From experience, if a parent is not happy with the needs of their child being met, then it is in the rights of the parent to call for a meeting of the IEP team- consisting of the special education teacher, a general education teacher, a school district representative, speech pathologist and the school psychologist and discuss needs and concerns.

The parent (s) must keep in mind that the scheduling of this team may take weeks, so professional courtesy must be allowed.  This type of recourse should be discussed at the first meeting and always should be an option. The best way to avoid potential lawsuits is to keep communication open 100%. This especially goes for the IEP process and everything within the document.

The Best Way to Prevent Lawsuits

The best way to prevent potential lawsuits is to remember that teachers are responsible for their own tortious actions with no protection from the school. Make it your effort to know school law. This especially applies to the teaching of special education because there are so many laws that protect the students, but hardly any that protect the educator. Intentional Torts- A deliberate act, such as: assault, battery, libel, slander, defamation, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and invasion-all requiring proof of intent or willfulness. The same seriousness counts when rights to speech are violated. Unintentional Tort- Simple negligence is validated by standard of care, breach of duty, injury and proximity of legal cause. Unfortunately, unintentional torts are seen the most in special education according to McCarthy & McCabe, (2010).

The following cases are instructive in that they illustrate when school officials and personnel may be held liable for student injury and misconduct: According to the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, the following three case scenarios show how important it is for educators and district officials to know about “tort law.”

The first case example: Ferraro v. Board of Education of the City of New York (1961) indicated that courts will hold school personnel liable if a student attacks and injures another student and the teacher should have known that such an attack or aggressive behavior was possible and, therefore, could have prevented the injury.

The second case example: Cohen v. School District (1992), a special education student with learning disabilities, behavior problems, and known violent tendencies was mainstreamed without adequate supervision. Without provocation, the student attacked and injured a peer in his classroom. The parents of the injured student sued the school maintaining that the injured student’s rights had been violated. The court stated such a placement, however, may result in school officials being held liable if the officials knew that a student with disabilities was violent, and they placed the student in the general education classroom without adequate supervision.

The third case example: McMahan v. Crutchfield (1997), a school district paid to settle a lawsuit involving a special education student who assaulted a five-year-old girl. Allan Crutchfield, who had mild to moderate mental disabilities and had a history of behavioral problems, was participating in a job-training program when the assault occurred. He had a history of assaultive behavior, and a mental health evaluation had stressed that he be under constant supervision. His job-training program involved work in a college cafeteria. One morning a college student brought her five-year-old daughter into the cafeteria.

When the girl went to the bathroom, Crutchfield, who was unsupervised, followed her in, forced her head into a toilet, and began to strangle her. A college student hearing screaming ran into the bathroom and chased Crutchfield away. The young girl was unconscious and injured, but she eventually recovered. Crutchfield was later found incompetent to stand trial and committed to a state psychiatric hospital. The girl’s mother sued the school district. Rather than going to court, school officials admitted their liability and paid the girl’s mother $400,000. (

One of the most important obligations for an educator is to provide a strong standard of care. As advice to any school district, please provide mandatory training to all educators that will ensure the proper ways of supervision and educational management as per the law. These policies should be in writing and available to all educators and employees working in the field of education. Above all, school district officials should understand tort laws in their states.

The Importance of the First Amendment

Not only do school districts have a policy that clearly prohibits the uploading of intellectual property and copyrighted material, but also a policy that states that we as educators must teach students early to avoid academic plagiarism by properly citing sources. This especially applies to the teaching of children with exceptionalities.

Technological learning tools are in our K-12 schools and with this comes a mandatory block on certain websites that have nothing to do with learning. Lacking an understanding of the complexity of teacher responsibilities in dealing with First Amendment issues can lead to lawsuits which can damage teachers’ careers, cost school districts millions of dollars in legal fees, and have profound effects on the education of students. (Call & O’Brien, 2011)

The courts decision under Garcetti vs. Ceballos to strip employees of their first amendment rights for speech made “as employees” pursuant to their official job duties should be construed narrowly so that it applies only when teachers communicate with their students in school related purposes. With regards to religious expression, the first amendment has two clauses that must be followed to avoid potential violation of privacy.

Firstly, the establishment clause prohibits states from passing laws that aid in religious preferences over another. Flowers (2013) articulates that the establishment clause argues that the purpose is not to protect religion but to protect religious freedom. This is vital to understand, as many students from different countries are populating our public schools.

According to Essex, (2012), religious garb raises the issue as to whether such dress creates a sectarian influence in the classroom. The answer to this is that it only applies to teachers that may choose to wear their “garbs” at school. Teachers must really stay conservative in their personal beliefs and lifestyles.  The second clause of the first amendment is the free exercise clause. This prohibits state from interfering with individuals religious freedoms. As this does apply to free speech and writing, teachers have to really step it up and explain the importance of protecting the rights of privacy within the community.

 Upon combining the two clauses of the first amendment, public schools are now required as agencies to maintain a neutral position during matters of their daily operations. Any violations of religious freedoms under the first amendment will affect state and its agencies, thus causing a stir that could lead in to an involvement by the Supreme Court.

As implied by Tygesson, (2013), Teaching is dynamic, and teachers are expected to engage young people with stimulating ideas and instruction. As they grow older, students frequently inquire about important, and at times controversial, topics related to religion and politics. “If our goal in education is understanding the justification for, and legitimate contours of public reason, then may the best be met by exposure to social differences, and this includes exposure to different religions beliefs and practices.” Warnick (2012).

Consequently, core knowledge in free speech, academic freedom, and the right to hear will always keep the best teachers in check. This is the pinnacle of freedom in protecting cultural heritage and religious beliefs.

The Importance of the Fourteenth Amendment       

According to Essex (2012), under the fourteenth amendment, procedural due process refers to the process of informing charged individuals about what they are accused of and giving them the opportunity to defend themselves before an impartial decision maker, which in this case was is the parent. According to the recollections of Hunter, Shannon & McCarthy (2013), In the case of Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill (1984), the United States Supreme Court stated: “Under the Due Process Clause, an individual must be given an opportunity for a hearing before he is deprived of any significant property interest.”

Broken down further, this case exercised due process by ways of allowing the defendant to defend himself and his feelings towards best interest. In the case; Loudermill argued that the board removed his property without giving him a chance to defend himself in violation of his right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The courts then ruled that the board did not violate his due process rights because it followed the procedures specified by the same statute for removing the property right.

White (2012), presumably implied that the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment were adopted with the intention of imposing an outer limit on what kinds of actions legislatures may take against individuals. In comparison and from a non-originalist perspective, Colby (2013) offers that the fourteenth amendment’s dubious origins have little bearing on its modern authority.

Due Process

As every child and their parents are given due process consideration; especially in special education, acknowledgment of a disability is vital to the success of the student’s academia. According to Doyle (2013), over the past decade in particular, the term “intellectual disability” has become the preferred phrase when describing those who previously were diagnosed as having mental retardation. Especially children who have intellectual disabilities, they need to feel and be among the general population so they can live and operate among them as they get older without confusion.

Mainstreaming in K-12 education can be dually beneficial for both students with autism and general education students. It is important for other children to interact with people with disabilities in order to gain deeper understanding of how a disability affects their lives and to foster feelings of empathy and the belief that people with disabilities are not “abnormal.” An additional benefit is that it is likely that the general education students will feel significantly more comfortable in dealing with individuals with autism, or any disability for that matter, later in life. Higbee, Katz & Schultz (2010).

In Summary

Currently in the United States of America, nearly a decade into an era of intensified, system-wide accountability pressures under the No Child Left Behind law that include what educators should be doing and what they should be producing in students, there is still pressure to achieve higher scores. At the same time, the government is willing to fund schools that want to improve their programs that will meet the needs of the exceptional students.  

As in my profession as a professor, students in higher education are graded according to a rubric. In the future, I can see the public school systems being set up in grading and accountability requirements for the needs of the special students as it is in higher education. It is an important time to consider the interaction of external and internal accountability systems in schools. Knapp & Feldman (2012).

Accountability is present in the introduction of the common core curriculum, which includes the special needs students, in almost all 50 states that holds all students from grades K-12 to achieving standards in high comprehension. Teachers really need to have something similar to grow by and to assess by for the administrators. This will lead to a more organized way to address a whole schools accountability standards and national scores and insure funding for the management of school wide improvements.


Ben-Porath, S. (2012). DEFENDING RIGHTS IN (SPECIAL) EDUCATION. Educational Theory, 62(1), 25-39. Retrieved from

Crowley, T. (2013). Wheelchair ramps in cyberspace: Bringing the Americans’ with disabilities act into the 21st century. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2013(3), 651-690. Retrieved from

Individual Education Program (IEP) Special Education. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from:

Special Education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  

The California Department of Education. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from:

The National Council on Disability. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from:

The United States Department of Education. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from:

Call, I., & O’Brien, J. (2011). Secondary preserve teachers’ knowledge of the first amendment. Teacher Education Quarterly, 38(4), 115-133. Retrieved from

Essex, N. E. (2012).  School Law and the Public Schools: A Practical Guide for Educational 5th Edition   Pearson Education Inc.   ISBN-10: 0137072759

Flowers, R. B. (2013). The constitution of religious freedom: God, politics and the first amendment. Journal of Church and State, 55(2), 351-353. Retrieved from

Griffith, T. B. (2011). The tension within the religion clause of the first amendment*. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2011(3), 597-604. Retrieved from

Higbee, J. L., Katz, R. E., & Schultz, J. L. (2010). Disability in higher education: Redefining mainstreaming. Journal of Diversity Management, 5(2), 7-16. Retrieved from

Knapp, M. S., & Feldman, S. B. (2012). Managing the intersection of internal and external accountability. Journal of Educational Administration, 50(5), 666-694. doi:

Rowley, R. L., & Wright, D. W. (2011). No “white” child left behind: The academic achievement gap between black and white students. The Journal of Negro Education, 80(2), 93-107. Retrieved from

Tygesson, N. K. (2013). CRACKING OPEN THE CLASSROOM DOOR: DEVELOPING A FIRST AMENDMENT STANDARD FOR CURRICULAR SPEECH. Northwestern University Law Review, 107(4), 1917-1951. Retrieved from

Warnick, B. R. (2012). STUDENT RIGHTS TO RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AND THE SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SCHOOLS. Educational Theory, 62(1), 59-74. Retrieved from

Weiss, M. P., & John, W. L. (2002). Congruence between roles and actions of secondary special educators in co-taught and special education settings. The Journal of Special Education, 36(2), 58-68. Retrieved from

The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.

A Plan to Amplify Environmental Consciousness in Schools

A Plan to Amplify Environmental Consciousness in Schools

By Dr. John Peterson, PhD FPA-BM Chairman of the Board

Problem Scenario

Society realizes that schools have an important duty of social responsibility with the community which they belong, and also understand that, while schools are one of the most important members in the community, they are also one of its most important stakeholders. Our planet is suffering the worst environmental crisis in modern age; and when adding a school’s duty for social responsibility with its important presence in the community, the result is having schools with an ethical obligation to assist on the solution for our environmental crisis. After all, “Taking the environment seriously means rethink how our politics and civic life fit the place we inhabit” (Orr, 2004, p. 168).

Strategy for Solving the Problem

There are already many important initiatives to bring a conscience of environmental preservation to educational institutions. The “green” initiative is gaining momentum. Perhaps one of the best examples is found at the Go Green Initiative website:

The mission of the Go Green Initiative is to provide schools, homes, businesses and organizations of all kinds with the tools and training they need to create a “culture of conservation” within their community. Our goals are to conserve and protect natural resources for future generations, and to protect human health through environmental stewardship. (Go Green Initiative, 2010, para. 1)

Go Green Initiative has – as key approach to their strategy – the creation of an environmental change in schools, by using what they call a “buy-in and support from parents, teachers, custodians and administrators” (Go Green Initiative, 2010, para. 1).

Other instance which there is a parent involvement on initiating a “green” movement towards a more ecologically friendly school is The Green Schools Initiative. The Green Schools Initiative was founded in 2004 by parent-environmentalists who “were shocked by how un-environmental their kids’ schools were and mobilized to improve the environmental health and ecological sustainability of schools in the U.S.” (Green Schools Initiative, 2011, para.1).

I recommend that an efficient strategy to amplify environmental consciousness in schools would be to create a regional database of volunteer schools (for example: a south Florida listing of schools participating and offering a program for environmental consciousness) and support them with tools, training and the funding opportunities they would need to make their program or programs a success. Also other resources, grants and special events would be made available through effective communication.

Effective Communication

Technology is crucial when communicating and coordinating action or actions coming from leadership decisions. According to Trilling and Fadel (2009) technology also permits that through communication there is learning from each other’s experiences, as new methods and processes are innovated. Trilling and Fadel (2009) wrote that a 21 century educational program is developed by both distributed and coordinated leadership.

One the most widely used technology today is the Internet. According to Trilling and Fadel (2009),

The learning and thinking power tools of our times and the times to come are well suited for the kinds of experiences most needed to develop 21 century skills – the inquiry, design, and collaborative learning projects that deal with real-world problems, issues, questions, and challenges. (p. 142).

The most effective communication media to create, manage, and support an association of “green” oriented schools would be the use of a portal on the Internet. Internet-based methods of communication, including email, websites, and newer social networking technologies, such as blogs and Facebook, presents new opportunities for school communication.

Ethics, Diversity, and a Shared Vision

Tschannen-Moran (2007) explained that the five constituencies of schools: administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the general public, are related directly to the five aspects of trust – benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. This is important to understand when building a school program which will have to be supported for all stakeholders involved in the project. One of the strong characteristics of an efficient shared vision is trust.

Ciulla (2004) elucidated that the ability to understand the moral challenges so distinctively faced by leaders and leadership is particularly important for leadership development. One of the important benefits of schools using technology in the implementation and use of the “green” program is verified by a phrase on an article by Bouffard (2008), “Students from all backgrounds benefit equally from Internet-based family-school communication” (para. 20). In my opinion, among these challenges resides the cultural diversity found on so many schools these days.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The strengths and weaknesses of proposing a plan to amplify environmental consciousness in schools is related to what Green (2009) explained being the modes of communication: verbal and nonverbal. According to Green (2009) schools have both formal and informal communication network, and Green (2009) explained that the formal network is conducted by the organization’s structure, while the organization’s individuals are the managers of the informal network.

This is an important differentiation because “the major function of the formal network is to convey information sanctioned by the system” (Green, 2009, p. 129) whereas the informal communication is often associated with rumors. Since the core of the program’s success depends on communication (as explained before in this paper), attention should be taken so a formal mode of communication is always in place, and leadership of the program should be aware of rumors, as Green (2009) wrote, “they can be detrimental to goal attainment” (p. 129).


Society sees schools as a responsible and participative member of the community, and as such they have the ethical obligation to help on the effort to educate and raise the level of environmental consciousness on administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the general public. In order to obtain this goal I suggest a plan to use technology, more specifically the Internet, to create a database of schools with a “green” program in order to support them with tools, training and funding opportunities.


Bouffard, S. (2008, July). Tapping into technology: The role of the Internet in family–school communication [Article]. Retrieved from Harvard Family Research Project Web site:

Ciulla, J. (2004). Ethics and leadership effectiveness. In J. Antonakis, A. T. Clanciolo, & R. T. Sternberg (Eds.), The nature of leadership (pp. 302-327). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Go Green Initiative (2010). Get started. Retrieved from Go Green Initiative Web site:

Go Green Initiative (2010). Our mission. Retrieved from Go Green Initiative Web site:

Green Schools Initiative. (2011). About us. Retrieved from

Green, R. L. (2009). Practicing the art of leadership: A problem-based approach to implementing the ISLLC standards (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Orr, D. W. (2004). Earth in mind: On education, environment, and the human prospect (10 anniversary ed.). Washington, DC: Island Press.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21 century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Tschannen-Moran, M. (2007). Becoming a trustworthy leader. In Jossey-Bass (Ed.), The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership (2 ed., pp. 99-113). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

The FPA-BM has as Chairman of the Board Dr. John Peterson, Ph.D. A leading education specialist for over 15 years, Dr. John Peterson is a published author and the creator and implementer of several undergraduate and graduate programs. Emphasizing practical access to learning methodologies, Dr. Peterson has developed curricula focused on online and face-to-face training, optimizing new technologies for the benefit of his students’ achievements in real-world careers. In addition, Dr. Peterson is an experienced consultant to the requirements of the Florida Department of Education regarding the licensing and compliance of new institutions. 

Philosophical Paradigms, Data Collection, and Analysis Design of a Green Technology Education Mixed Methods Research

Philosophical Paradigms, Data Collection, and Analysis Design of a Green Technology Education Mixed Methods Research

By Dr. John Peterson, PhD, FPA-BM Chairman of the Board

Beginning with the industrial revolution, the establishment of the capitalistic system initiated consumerism and intensified the separation between humanity and nature. Today, the intrinsic connection of technology to our daily life makes it almost impossible to imagine a world without it. All facets of our activities, from medicine to construction, from entertainment to education have technology built into them. The problem is that the same technology that assists us immensely to live a comfortable, safe, and productive life can also have the potential to destroy us. All side effects of the energy used to keep the current technology operating have produced damage to our environment.

To solve the conflict, we need to educate our society to become more responsible by emphasizing a green education to create a green and sustainable technology. Moreover, this is what this paper covers: data collection and data analysis design in a research methodology study of a green education focused on a green technology oriented in bringing solutions to the economic and environmental crisis.

Philosophical Paradigms

Johnson and Christensen (2012) explained paradigms as “a perspective about research held by a community of researchers that is based in a set of shared assumptions, concepts, values, and practices” (p. 31). Paradigms are also known as organizing frameworks or disciplinary matrices (McKerchar, 2008), and hold identifying characteristics, methods and practices that create expectations about the nature and conduct of research. The application of this concept of philosophical paradigms is appropriate when proposing a wide engagement to the cause of a green education for a green technology. Jonas (2010) wrote:

Every new step in whatever technological field tends not to approach an equilibrium or saturation point in the process of fitting means to ends (nor is meant to), but, on the contrary, to give rise if successful, to further steps in all directions. (p. 13)

Our contemporary civilization is on a continuous growth spreading in all areas: art, culture, religion, politics, and technology, among others. We progress, and with progress, we need a deeper understanding of our role as a civilization. Progress is not just “an ideological gloss of modern technology” (Jonas, 2010, p. 13), and not an option, but is a natural drive which automatically affects the fiber of society.

McKerchar (2008) elucidated that paradigm choices are reflections of the researcher views of the world (ontology) and of the belief that knowledge is created (epistemology). Creswell (1994) explained that quantitative and qualitative paradigms have the following five assumptions:

  1. Ontological
  2. Epistemological
  3. Axiological
  4. Rhetorical
  5. Methodological

In quantitative research, ontological assumptions relate to what is real, objective, and singular. In qualitative research, they are subjective and belonging to multiple realities. According to Creswell (1994), ontological assumption asks the question “What is the nature of reality?” (p. 5). The question, “What is the relationship of the researcher to that researched?” (Creswell, 1994, p. 5) exemplifies epistemological assumption. In quantitative research, the researcher is disassociated to “that being researched” (Creswell, 1994, p. 5), and in qualitative research, the researcher “interacts with that being researched” (Creswell, 1994, p. 5).

Axiological assumption explains the role of values. Quantitative research is value-free and unbiased, while qualitative research is “value-laden and biased” (Creswell, 1994, p. 5).

Rhetorical assumption relates to the language of research. In quantitative research, the language is formal, while in qualitative research the language is more informal. Methodological assumptions are founded on deductive processes (quantitative research) and inductive processes (qualitative research) (Creswell, 1994). AcademyHealth (n.d.) explained deductive process as “The process of using theory to guide research drawing inferences regarding specific applications from general principles or phenomena” (para. 1), as shown in Figure 1; and inductive process as “The process of using empirical observations to guide development of theory on inferring general principles from specific observations” (para. 1), as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1. Deductive process.

Figure 2. Inductive process.

A research study to bring new green curricula to schools should be a mixed method utilizing the characteristics of ontological and epistemological assumptions. The delicate challenge in mixed method design is to develop and conduct the best and most appropriate combination of strategies. In theory, it does offer a prospective to clarify puzzling problems, in “particular on the nature of causal relationships, but it still may not necessarily provide all the answers given the complexities of human behavior” (McKerchar, 2008, p. 13).

There are already pioneer institutions doing it. For example, American River College, part of the Los Rios Community College District in California, has developed a sustainability program named the GreenForce Initiative. The school offers courses such as “Clean Diesel Technology”, “Design and Fabrication of Solar Projects”, “Solar Technology”, and “Solar Systems Design, Estimation and Sales”, and will offer certificates in the last two areas beginning in the spring, 2010. Also beginning in the spring of 2010, ARC will offer courses in “Interior Design-Green Building and Sustainable Design” and “Lighting Efficiency”, as well as training for the “Energy Management Technician”. The following semester, certificates will be offered in each of these areas, and a degree will be available for the “Energy Management Technician”. (Green Technology, 2009, para. 2)

Criteria for Paradigm Selection

Researcher’s worldview. This criterion relates to how comfortable a researcher is with one of the assumptions: (a) ontological, (b) epistemological, (c) axiological, (d) rhetorical, and (e) methodological (Creswell, 1994).

Training and experience. This criterion relates to technical writing, computer statistical programs, and library skills for quantitative research; and relates to literary writing, computer assisted text analysis, and library skills for qualitative research (Creswell, 1994).

Researcher’s psychological attributes. This criterion relates to how comfortable the researcher is with rules and guidelines. Quantitative researchers are more comfortable with rules when conducting research than qualitative researchers, who are more comfortable with the absence or lack of specific rules and procedures. There is also the issue of ambiguity (low tolerance in quantitative researchers, and higher tolerance in qualitative researchers), and time consumption for studies (shorter duration in quantitative and longer duration in qualitative researches) (Creswell, 1994).

Nature of problem. In quantitative research, other researchers usually have already studied the problem so there is an existing body of literature, theories, and known variables. In qualitative research, the study is exploratory, with unknown variables (Creswell, 1994). A scarcity of proven successful enterprises limits the implementation of a green education for green technology. Perhaps here a mixed approach between known and unknown variables, reflects best the employment of ontological and epistemological assumptions.

Audience for the study. Both quantitative and qualitative researchers should consider, as a criterion, an audience for the study based on individuals accustomed and supportive of their paradigm (quantitative or qualitative) (Creswell, 1994).

A Single Research Paradigm

McKerchar (2008) wrote that researches emphasize different strategies depending on the purpose of their overall design. This is not necessarily a problem if a clear rationale justifies it. A mixed methodology design develops and conducts the most appropriate combination of strategies, “That is, the possible combinations for mixed method research are almost unlimited” (McKerchar, 2008, p. 13). This is especially true when the deductive process (quantitative research) and the inductive process (qualitative research) overlap data at the collection phase, at the analysis phase, or in the conclusions and recommendations. Johnson and Christensen (2012) wrote that pragmatism will dictate that the research be designed in a way that best helps answer the research question. These authors also elucidated that mixing qualitative and quantitative methods into a mixed methodology will result in pragmatic knowledge.

The Education Paradigm

Ecological Crisis

Lately, after more than a quarter of century of growing crises, subjects relating to nature are becoming a part of public awareness. Today, society is already “conscious that natural resources are finite and insufficient to meet the unbearable demand of the human population” (Nascimento, 1999, p. 202). However, according to Nascimento (1999) “present societies have admitted indifferent behaviors, both consciously and unconsciously, resisting changing whatever is necessary, unless these changes guarantee immediate pleasure and power” (p. 202). Therefore, people just live and only feel responsible for their own lives. At the same time, a great majority, while suffering the consequences of the existing technological model, does not realize what is happening to the environment and the need to transform our ways to deal with these issues.

Green Education

The present patterns hold our civilization unsustainable if our existing values are not changed. “That change effectively comprises an educational problem of complex nature” (Nascimento, 1999, p. 202). Environmental education emerges in this framework as a new manner of correcting the individual’s responsibility for the world, and as a new proposal for the rational and wise managing of the co-dependent association of economy and environment.

However, “the problem is not related to questioning whether environmental education is essential, but which kind of environmental education is important, in order to incite a change of values and behaviors” (Nascimento, 1999, p. 203). It should be directed to the core of the driver that stimulates the crisis: technology, and especially technology related to energy production and expenditure.

The Technology Paradigm

“I am sorry to say that there is too much point to the wisecrack that life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours” (John F. Kennedy).

Economic and Social Development

Economic development is desirable because it brings prosperity to nations and their people; however, there is a social unevenness associated with recent economic growth associated with geographical prosperity and impoverishment, usually reflected in technological infrastructure. According to Rowntree, Lewis, Price, and Wyckoff (2006), “This geographic unevenness in development, prosperity, and social infrastructure is a characteristic signature of the early twenty-first century” (p. 39).

Green Technology

The term technology refers to the application of knowledge for practical purposes. The field of green technology encompasses a continuously evolving group of methods and materials, from techniques for generating energy to non-toxic cleaning products (Green Technology, 2009).

The present expectation is that this field will bring innovation and changes in daily life of similar magnitude to the “information technology” explosion over the last two decades. In these early stages, it is impossible to predict what “green technology” may eventually encompass. (Green Technology, 2009, para. 3)

Table 1

The Goals that Inform Developments in Green Technology

Note: Source: Green Technology (2009). Green technology: What is it? Retrieved from

Gore (2007) wrote:

When a new technology emerges as the primary medium for the sharing of information—like the printing press in the fifteenth century or television in the twentieth century—those who adapt to the new technology have to literally change the way they process information. (p. 20)

The relationships among education, school and environment have historically reflected the relationships of society and science to the global environment. In order for the adoption of a green technology, there is a need for society to think green, and education can establish the consciousness of this need. Serious organizations with a worldwide influence, such as the Green Education Foundation (GEF), have developed powerful tools for a sustainability education to provide educators “with the real-world applied learning models that connect science, technology, and math education with the broader human concerns of environmental, economic, and social systems” (Green Education Foundation, 2012, para. 1).

The activism for products related to a green industry has become a common trend; for example, the Institute for Responsible Technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. Others, such as the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a “501 c3 non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings” (U.S. Green Building Council, 2012, para. 1), have done a tremendous job educating and supporting the education of green technology.

In rural Brazil, we find an example of how sustainable technology influences the solution of the economic problem. Solar energy has its use restricted by a reputation of being expensive, although this is not necessarily true. Fabio Rosa, a young graduate in agronomic engineering found an interesting solution to an old dilemma: How to bring electricity to poor people in the most remote rural areas in the southern region of Brazil.

Rosa’s idea was to install inexpensive poly-wire and fiberglass posts as electric fences for cattle, and at the same time, as collectors of solar energy. After this concept was explained to local small farmers and ranchers, (who saw the benefit of an 85% reduction in costs and an increase in productivity), it was widely adopted, having 700 solar electric and fencing systems installed in sixteen Brazilian states (Bornstein, 2007). This is green technology. This is what education can bring, and this is what this paper covers: Data collection and analysis design in a research methodology study of a green education focused on a green technology oriented in bringing solutions to the environmental crisis.

Research Question

Research questions have a fundamental role when designing a mixed research study. According to Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004), “research methods should follow research questions in a way that offers the best chance to obtain useful answers” (as cited by Duke and Mallette, 2011, p. 32). Duke and Mallette (2011) explained that, when elaborating mixed research questions, the first thing to do is to write separated quantitative and qualitative questions followed by an explicit mixed research question.

According to Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2006), the quantitative and qualitative research questions are most aligned or compatible with respect to the underlying paradigm and methods used when both types of questions are open-ended and non-directional in nature. They both seek to discover, explore or describe a particular participant, setting, context, location, event, incident, activity, experience, process and/or document.

This study’s research question is: How education to adopt green technology, as part of a solution for our environmental and economic crisis, will influence short-term interest in college-level students.

Data Collection

Perhaps a good approach for mixed method research should be a sequential data collection; however, the method of data collection connects intrinsically to the research question and to the analysis design. This connection, this tripod of three support legs: question, collection, and analysis are dependent of each other and equally strong.

According to Driscoll, Appiah-Yeboah, Salib, and Rupert (2007), sequential mixed methods data collection strategies involve collecting data in an iterative process whereby the data collected in one phase contribute to the data collected in the next. Data collected in these designs to provide more data about results from the earlier phase of data collection and analysis, to select participants who can best provide that data, or to generalize findings by verifying and augmenting study results from members of a defined population (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007, p. 121). Sequential designs in which quantitative data are collected first can use statistical methods to determine which findings to augment in the next phase.

In this research study, the collection of data will take place through standardized open-ended interviews and closed fixed-response interviews. The format of these interviews will be a questionnaire. According to Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009), standardized open-ended interviews are those with exact wording and sequence of questions determined in advance, and interviewees are asked the same questions in the same order in an open-ended format. In closed fixed-response interviews, the questions and responses are determined in advance; responses are fixed with respondents choosing from fixed answers.


A questionnaire is a self-report data collection instrument that is filled out by research participants. Questionnaires are usually paper-and-pencil instruments, but they can also be placed on the web for participants to go to and “fill out.” Questionnaires are sometimes called survey instruments; however, the actual questionnaire should not be called “the survey.” The word “survey” refers to the process of using a questionnaire or interview protocol to collect data (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009).

When developing a questionnaire this study will follow Teddlie and Tashakkori’s (2009) 15Principles of Questionnaire Construction:

  1. The questionnaire items match the research objectives.
  2. Understand the demographic and cultural characteristics of the research participants.
  3. Use natural and familiar language.
  4. Write items that are clear, precise, and relatively short.
  5. Not use “leading” or “loaded” questions.
  6. Avoid double-barreled questions (a double-barreled question combines two or more issues in a single question).
  7. Avoid double negatives.
  8. Determine whether an open-ended or a closed ended question is needed.
  9. Use mutually exclusive and exhaustive response categories for closed-ended questions.
  • Mutually exclusive categories do not overlap (e.g., ages 0-10, 10-20, 20-30 are NOT mutually exclusive and should be rewritten as less than 10, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, …).
  • Exhaustive categories include all possible responses (e.g., if you are doing a national survey of adult citizens (i.e., 18 or older) then the these categories (18-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69) are NOT exhaustive because there is no where to put someone who is 70 years old or older.
  1. Consider the different types of response categories available for closed-ended questionnaire items.
  • Rating scales are the most commonly used, including:

Numerical rating scales (where the endpoints are anchored; sometimes the center point or area is also labeled).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Very Low Very High

Fully anchored rating scales (where all the points on the scale are anchored).

1 2 3 4 5

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

1 2 3 4

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

Omitting the center point on a rating scale (e.g., using a 4-point rather than a 5-point rating scale) does not appreciably affect the response pattern. Some researchers prefer 5- point rating scales; other researchers prefer 4-point rating scales. Both generally work well.

Rankings (i.e., where participants put their responses into rank order, such as most important, second most important, and third most important).

Semantic differential (i.e., where one item stem and multiple scales that are anchored with polar opposites or antonyms are included and are rated by the participants).

Checklists (i.e., where participants “check all of the responses in a list that apply to them”).

  1. Use multiple items to measure abstract constructs.
  2. Consider using multiple methods when measuring abstract constructs.
  3. Use caution if you reverse the wording in some of the items to prevent response sets. (A response set is the tendency of a participant to respond in a specific direction to items regardless of the item content.)
  4. Develop a questionnaire that is easy for the participant to use.
  5. Always pilot test your questionnaire.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Questionnaires

Strengths of questionnaires

  • Good for measuring attitudes and eliciting other content from research participants.
  • Inexpensive (especially mail questionnaires and group administered questionnaires).
  • Can provide information about participants’ internal meanings and ways of thinking.
  • Can administer to probability samples.
  • Quick turnaround.
  • Can be administered to groups.
  • Perceived anonymity by respondent may be high.
  • Moderately high measurement validity (i.e., high reliability and validity) for well-constructed and validated questionnaires.
  • Closed-ended items can provide exact information needed by researcher.
  • Open-ended items can provide detailed information in respondents’ own words.
  • Ease of data analysis for closed-ended items.
  • Useful for exploration as well as confirmation.
  • Usually must be kept short.
  • Reactive effects may occur (e.g., interviewees may try to show only what is socially desirable).
  • Nonresponse to selective items.
  • People filling out questionnaires may not recall important information and may lack self-awareness.
  • Response rate may be low for mail and email questionnaires.
  • Open-ended items may reflect differences in verbal ability, obscuring the issues of interest.
  • Data analysis can be time consuming for open-ended items.
  • Measures need validation.

Weaknesses of questionnaires

  • Usually must be kept short.
  • Reactive effects may occur (e.g., interviewees may try to show only what is socially desirable).
  • Nonresponse to selective items.
  • People filling out questionnaires may not recall important information and may lack self-awareness.
  • Response rate may be low for mail and email questionnaires.
  • Open-ended items may reflect differences in verbal ability, obscuring the issues of interest.
  • Data analysis can be time consuming for open-ended items.
  • Measures need validation.


Green education is the path to green technology, as shown in this paper. We, as a society, have an obligation to better our civilization by making the best use of our tradition, education and entrepreneurship to build a new alternative future, with green technology leading the way in solving the current environmental and economic crisis. According to Driscoll, Appiah-Yeboah, Salib, and Rupert (2007), “Mixed methods designs can provide pragmatic advantages when exploring complex research questions. The qualitative data provide a deep understanding of survey responses, and statistical analysis can provide detailed assessment of patterns of responses” (p. 27).


Bornstein, D. (2007). How to change the world: Social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas. New York, NY: Oxford Press.

Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Duke, N. K., & Mallette, M. H. (2011). Literacy research methodologies (2. ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Driscoll, D. L., Appiah-Yeboah, A., Salib, P., & Rupert, D. (2007). Merging qualitative and quantitative data in mixed methods research: How to and why not. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology (3)1. Pp. 19-28.

Green Education Foundation (2012). About us. Retrieved from

Green Technology (2009). Directory of sustainability programs at California community colleges. Retrieved from

Gore, A. (2007). The assault on reason. New York, NY: The Penguin Press.

Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2012). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (5 ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Jonas, H. (2010). Toward a philosophy of technology. In C. Hawks (Ed.), Technology and values: Essential readings (pp. 11-25). Malden, MA: Blackwell/John Wiles and Sons.

McKerchar, M. (2008). Philosophical paradigms, inquiry strategies and knowledge claims: Applying the principles of research design and conduct to taxation. eJournal of Tax Research 6(1). Retrieved from

Nascimento, E. P. (1999). The ecological crisis: Changing the paradigms. 24 International Faith and Learning Seminar held at Andrews University. Berrien Spring, MI (pp. 197-215)Retrieved from

Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rowtree, L., Lewis, M., Price, M., & Wyckoff, W. (2006). Diversity amid globalization: World regions, environment, development (3. ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2006, September). Linking research questions to mixed methods data analysis procedures. The Qualitative Report (11)3 pp. 474-498. Retrieved from

U.S. Green Building Council (2012). About USGBC. Retrieved from

The FPA-BM has as Chairman of the Board Dr. John Peterson, Ph.D. A leading education specialist for over 15 years, Dr. John Peterson is a published author and the creator and implementer of several undergraduate and graduate programs. Emphasizing practical access to learning methodologies, Dr. Peterson has developed curricula focused on online and face-to-face training, optimizing new technologies for the benefit of his students’ achievements in real-world careers. In addition, Dr. Peterson is an experienced consultant to the requirements of the Florida Department of Education regarding the licensing and compliance of new institutions.

Communities and Learning Organizations

Communities and Learning Organizations

By Dr Nilsa Fleury, DeD, FPA-BM Director of Education

Building communities of commitment is a great chance to go forward (Chawla & Renesch, 2006).Transforming fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness in a new culture systems. The new way of thinking, feeling, and being, in which recovers the memory of whole systems, cooperation, and creation. Communities bring the new systems worldview, the idea of help each other, and creativity. Building learning organizations (LO) with a nature of commitment that goes beyond people to their organizations. The real learning occurs with the development of the new capabilities in a continuous cycle of theoretical action and practical conceptualization (Chawla & Renesch, 2006).

Changes come from moments of crises, but some learning comes from these changes. The fragmentation of the church is a great example of the changes through the Centuries and the seeds are evident today. In the past, Galileo proposed that the earth is not the center of the universe, and three fundamental theses shift the understand of ourselves and the world: The primacy of the whole involved in three part process such as break the system, study, and understand the whole from the parts; the community nature of the shelf that discovered that at the core of person is pure energy and the network of contractual commitments; and language as generative practice , recognized as tradition of observation and meaning shared by the community (Chawla & Renesch, 2006). In a learning organization, people stand for a vision, and create a type of organization they want to work and they can thrive in a world of increasing interdependency and change. According to Chawla and Renesch (2006) , “a learning organization must be grounded in three foundations : a culture based on transcendent human values of love, wonder, humility, and compassion; a set of practices for generative conversation and coordinated action; and a capacity to see and work with the flow of life as a system” (p. 32).

Learning organizations are opened space to generative conversations and place in which   people inquire into systemic consequences of their actions. Some strategies of learning arise through performance, practice, and process-oriented design. Transactional learners are more conventional, but they add new ideas and make changes to become transformational learners. The cycle of community-building involves practical experimentation, work together, know each other, and apply new knowledge and skills.


Dialogue is a “process central to develop a learning organization” (Chawla & Renesch, 2006, p. 153). In addition, dialogue results in a good conversation; it requires a new way of thinking about and evaluation communication. Dialogues tap also the way to be more reflective of minority cultures or less visible in our organizations. Further, dialogue is a process of a profound openness to the vitality s of real diversity. Some aspects contribute to the dialogue such as readings, a program design focuses on reflections’ spaces; a round place that give people the opportunity to share, listen , and hear; communication about the process of listen , reflection, and slow-down.

A guidance of dialogue include speak from the heart, listen for information or without thinking, allow the silence, suspend assumptions, and so forth. Sometimes people need more alternatives to better performance and other ideas to improve the process such as coaching, mindset, and use of appropriate language are part of learning organizations. To determine excellence performance among the employees, some organizations change to managing people to coaching them. The generative approach of coaching has the potential to introduce and implement new ideas of learning organizations (Chawla & Renesch, 2006).

The use of language by conversations, practices by actions, and the way to understand people as a whole is view as generative coaching. The principles of coaching were listed by Murphy (in Chawla & Renesch, 2006) as relationship (i.e., mutual commitment, trust, respect, and freedom of expression); pragmatism (i.e, outcome, feedback loop); two tracks (i.e., both coach and client are in a learning process); always-already (i.e., four or more things going on in life); and techniques do not work with people. Coaching is a process that establishes a relationship of commitment, trust, respect, and freedom of expression (Chawla & Renesch, 2006). Strategic dialogue creates the opportunity to serve as a “key approach for linking generative conversations and create actions throughout the organizations” (p. 182). The opportunity of change and resolve strategic dilemmas using mindshift: strategic dialogues.

Mastery of Change

An effective LO culture needs to be able to adapt to external changes that affect specific industries. Kanter (in Chawla and Renesch, 2006) states that mastering change is an important aspect for leaders to help an organization understand as today’s business environment is more turbulent than ever. A turbulent business environment means that organizations must be able to adapt to change effectively and efficiently. The LO handbook emphasizes that an LO culture needs to have conditions present in the organization in order to allow for an organization to be able to adapt to turbulent times effectively. Basically, the LO handbook describes what conditions are necessary to adapt to changes. A LO organization needs to emphasize the need for open communication between colleagues.

In order to have this condition the LO will have activities set up periodically to allow an open discussion between departments. All members of an organization need to practice consistent and forthright communication (Stein, 1992). Open communication will allow for ideas flow openly between employees when adapting to change. True communication between all employees is the most effective way to adapt to change as ideas and solutions need to be discussed in order to adapt to changes in turbulent times.

The FPA-BM has as Director of Education Dr. Nilsa Fleury, Ed.D. Dr. Nilsa, is a consultant, university professor and information analyst. Dr. Nilsa graduated in Business Administration from FACE – UFMG, postgraduate in Industrial Economics – UFMG, Specialization in Information Systems by UNA – Cepederh. She holds a Master in Business Science and Doctorate in Education, concentration in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University. She worked as a consultant for the government and private sector in Brazil, USA and Canada. In addition, Dr. Nilsa taught business in some universities in Brazil. She teaches Business and Education courses for undergraduate and graduate courses in the USA.