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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Getting Better Numbers, Part II

Everyone involved in schools wants fewer student expulsions and suspensions.

Everyone wants lower numbers, just like the cholesterol commercials.

But like the pharmaceutical statins that reduce cholesterol and also have significant side-effects like turning livers into shoe-leather---lowering numbers of suspensions just to get “lower numbers” has side-effects, trade-offs, and unintended consequences as well.

For example, in the Escambia County school district for the months of May and June 2015—there are only (4) students being expelled.  Considering we have just over 40,000 students—this 4 expulsion stat is a small number, right?

The reality—we had during the same period 87 “disciplinary changes of placement” which is the dandy new term we use for what used to be called expulsions just two short years ago. Drugs, weapons, fights, abusive conduct—yeah, now all of these infractions are handled with “disciplinary reassignments”

We get lower expulsions by changing what we call punishment, and everybody golf-claps—but in reality the discipline problems are getting worse but because we are expelling fewer students than ever, the illusion is that things are “better.”

But things are not better.

  Things are getting worse. 

I recently spoke to an administrator who showed me pictures of physical injuries she has sustained in

 dealing with and restraining violent elementary school students.

I spoke to another administrator who confided in me that using the Discipline Intervention Matrix is tying his hands----and students are still misbehaving.

In reading this month’s 500+ pages of backup for the 45 changes of placement we’ll be approving next week, I hear the utter frustration in the voices of the teachers that have to endure out-of-control defiance, disrespect, and classroom disruptions, completing 4,5,6, or as many as 7 warning “steps” before a student can even be sent to the office for punishment. This is madness!

I read about how just a small number of students are permitted to create so much havoc and harass so many students and staff before they finally do something so serious that it can’t be minimized and swept under the rug.

Behavior problems, particularly among students who aggressively fight and are predatory toward other students repeatedly, must be dealt with fairly, swiftly, and with appropriate consequences.

That’s not happening.

And regardless of what we pound our chests and say, parents are not buying it.  They want safe schools and safe buses, not platitudes and equivocations.  Aggressive students are getting too many cracks at good kids before they are removed and this must end!

An example from this month’s back-up:  One male student slapped a female student in the face twice in a classroom and loudly exclaimed“This is how a real N@##a does it!  He gets only a couple of days out of school for this assault?  This is not right. (This particular student now is removed, but not expelled, due to allegedly shooting a gun at a citizen outside of school)  

A student who instigates multiple fights and beats up several students on the bus gets only “bus suspended for one or two days?” 

He does this multiple times until finally he sexually violates a young girl and SHE PRESSES CHARGES!

Until we deal with the disruptive, anti-social, abusive and often-times violent students and remove them from the rest of the students who want to learn, we will continue to see bullying and harassment of students at unacceptable levels.
We will continue to see students leave the public school system.

We will continue to see teacher churn as a direct result of politically correct, watered down 
\discipline, similar to what is happening in Madison Wisconsin. 

But we will have our lower numbers, right?! 

Read this article, it foreshadows a problem we are creating here, and many schools are creating nationwide as these systems trip and fall all over themselves to genuflect before the alter of out of control political correctness and out of  control special interests---regardless of what fallout that brings to students and staff.

From Stephanie Bush’s experience as chronicled in The Capitol Times:

Bush said she decided to talk publicly about the conditions caused by the district’s new Behavior Education Plan to give voice to fellow teachers. She says teachers are being “thrown under the bus” and characterized as malcontents as their concerns are minimized by school district administrators.“We don’t feel any hope this system is going to change,” she said. The Behavior Education Plan, a rewrite of the school district’s previous discipline code, was designed to keep students in the classroom, reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, and close a glaring disparity that sends far more African-American students from the classroom for disciplinary reasons than students of other races and ethnicities. Students with disabilities also are removed from the classroom at much higher rates than other students. The new code has sharply reduced the number of out-of-school suspensions, although the racial disparity persists, school officials have reported…“We are being hit, we are being spat at. We have doors slammed on our fingers and toes, we’ve been pushed over, we’ve been kicked,” Margaret Stumpf, a fifth-grade special education teacher, told the board. What’s more, a small group of disruptive students is exacerbating the misbehavior of others, Stumpf said. Still other students are frightened, she said, recounting the daily plea of “Miss Stumpf, I’m scared,” from one boy. Other students try to flee the classroom with bathroom excuses or visits to the nurse, she said.


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