I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Getting Better Numbers, Part I

A common metric being used around the country to show that school districts are "taking misbehavior seriously" is the lowered number of suspensions and expulsions.

We do this locally as well.

At one school locally, those charged with managing the discipline are keenly aware that the numbers must be kept low, and these staff members know there is the potential for a lawsuit if too many students, particularly those of color, are suspended or expelled.

So different punishments are being utilized.  Teachers are told to re-direct misbehavior up to as many as four or five times and to "handle the misbehavior in your class, deal with it!"

In some cases this is appropriate--if the behavior is minor and can be corrected.

But what about students that bully and harass their classmates?

One middle school teacher I spoke with recently told me straight up he gets "cussed at all the time, the students get away with it and they know there is no meaningful consequence."  he continued "They know I have to fill out a behavior incident form, and even if I fill in all four parts in a day--it is still no guarantee the student will receive a written referral"

It is not just happening here.  Instead of having real "courageous conversations" about strict enforcement of discipline, many districts are weakening the ramifications of bad behavior to make "numbers better."

Tacoma, Washington is changing the way they handle discipline.  They are being pressurred into lowering their suspension and expulsion numbers.  They are also, apparently buying in to the flawed notion that in order for minority students to learn, they need to have minority teachers teaching them.  (I think that is garbage, good teachers come from all cultures and backgrounds, and are good whether they are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or any nationality.  There should not be a racial quota system in hiring teachers.) 

From today's  News Tribune:

"If a student uses profanity, for example, she believes there are alternatives to suspension. In some cases, Santorno said, students might try to use that kind of language to goad a teacher into suspending them because they want to be out of school.  Another factor: While more than half of Tacoma students are students of color, 86 percent of its more than 2,000 faculty members are white, as are the vast majority of teachers statewide.  Last year, Tacoma began a new program called the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative which uses positive discipline techniques. Instead of telling kids what they can’t do, it spells out what they can and should do. The goal is to make sure schools meet the needs of students not just academically but also socially and emotionally. That often requires understanding a student’s cultural background.  If a student is disrespectful to an adult, Franklin staff use the episode as a “teachable moment.” Instead of sending the child immediately to the office, teachers instead review their expectation of how to behave respectfully."

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