The most difficult job in education is the Balagula Wrestler. There are many other titles for this job- assistant principal, vice principal, disciplinarian, deportment chief, enforcer, and so many others. Some of these titles are not fit to be printed here.

In times gone by, the wrestler was most often one of the coaches, and I don’t mean the coach of the German or French Club. It was usually the coach of the football or basketball team or a phys. ed. teacher. Today it might even be the coach of the softball team or girls’ basketball team. The sex of the wrestler really does not mean anything at all.

Having been one of those people, during a period of time when the school that I was in was going through some pretty bad racial strife, I can speak with a certain degree of authority. In calm times, the Balagula Wrestler deals with in classroom behavior, absenteeism, hocking out of school during the day, fighting  (males and females), and other minor infractions. During the tough times, it might be drinking, drugs, sexual misconduct (and that might even be with teachers), protests, fanatical parents and the worst of all- suspending the star player on the football or basketball teams.

Yup, that seems to be the worst. That last item can really get you canned, get the principal canned and maybe ever the superintendent of schools. I have seen all three of those happen. Get a group of sports parents angry enough and you have the vandals knocking of the doors of Rome. Pay heed young administrators. When you discipline a star on the sports team, you better have all the evidence in black and white and maybe even a confession from the culprit. In this day and age, you might even be lucky enough to have a cell phone video of the event.

In times long gone, there were witnesses who pretty much told the story of what happened. Certainly you knew who the reliable witnesses were and who the fakes were. There were always kids who wanted to be in the limelight and would tell you anything you wanted to know. Wrestlers with experience know who to listen to and who to turn off.

Unfortunately, there is no training for this job. I was shoved into the role of the disciplinarian because others had failed. I am not large, nor do I have the authoritarian demeanor to frighten off the perpetrators of misdeeds. I am not even the one to use logic with the malefactors of mayhem (thanks Spiro). My line is pretty simple. Tell me what happened, or I am going to assume the worst. It seemed to work most of the time. Even during the worst of the racial conflagration, kids didn’t really want to be blamed for things that they did not do. Generally, the leaders of the groups were proud to have done the things they did.

Contacting parents was also a way of calming things down and getting to the bottom of things. Kids would really not lie in front of their parents, especially their moms. Whether a boy or girl, the end product was usually tears. The hard ones always took a while longer. It was rare that troops had to be called in. Once in a while, a drug bust resulted in an arrest.

The Balagula Wrestler, if he or she was smart, would get out of that role after a few years. The welcome mat is usually worn out by then. You have also pissed off a number of staff who felt that when they sent you a miscreant should punish them the way they wanted you to. Funny how kids always seemed to come from the same teachers. Oh well, probably a coincidence.






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