Article on whether we have an epidemic of school suspensions or not. Take a read and comment, please.
When I taught in DCPS there were a lot of kids who acted out. Fights happened, and so on. As the years went by, teachers got less and less support from administrators in case of incidents, to the point that if there was an incident, it seemed like it was the kid and the parent and the administrator breathing the teacher, pretty much always.
I also remember reading an expose some years ago in either WaPo or the Washington City Paper that showed that the suspension rates in DCPS were about one-tenth (iirc) of what they were in the surrounding suburbs , at the time, about 10-20 years ago. The authors said they found that very curious because they doubted that DCPS kids were 10 times better-behaved than suburban public school kids.
More recently, studies have shown that it’s certain DC charter schools that have suspension rates 10 times the rate of regular DC public schools. A teacher at one of those schools told me that after the news got out, their administrators then felt under pressure to reduce suspension rates, so now there are a lot of kids at this well-respected charter school who simply walk the halls instead of going to class.
All of this indicates to me that there is a conscious policy to this day (well after I retired) to NOT hold DCPS kids responsible for bad behavior (or for not studying or for skipping school etc). Nor is there a policy to get kids professional help for those who exhibit serious emotional problems. Or are sick, can’t see properly, are hungry or homeless, or are illiterate but yet enrolled in high school.
With such disparities in disciplinary (etc) policy, it’s as if the regular public schools are becoming not unlike mental asylums turned over to the loudest of the patients. Unless one is at a magnet school.
Suspension is not “the” answer, but teachers need help in managing their classes. If a student is acting out (as I recall doing in 4th and 5th grade because I couldn’t understanwhat was going on in class — I was essentially an immigrant in a French school knowing very little French) the teacher needs the authority to remove the kid (me) from the class and some other adult needs to figure out what to do. In my case, I needed intensive additional French classes at lunchtime and over the summer. It helped a lot.
Right now, in many many schools if a kid is misbehaving and disruptive and is sent out of class by a teacher because the teacher cannot cope with the situation, then an administrator will send the kid right back and admonish the teacher, not the student. Any follow up with parents or anybody else is strictly up to the teacher..,,