Getting tough in school equals what? | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting tough in school equals what?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 6:33 AM

A study from Texas raises questions about tough school discipline policies. New York Times reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

When also considering less serious infractions punished by in-school suspensions, the rate climbed to nearly 60 percent, according to the study by the Council of State Governments, with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.

The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.

Choices of punishment tended to be harsher options for minority students. But, the article notes, what's a school to do if fewer suspensions and expulsions produce chaos in classrooms?

My takeaway: It ain't easy being a teacher. Blithe assurances that all kids can learn are tempered in daily reality by that big percentage of multiple offenders. These are, it must be said, offenders who don't last long, if they make it at all, in the charter schools set up for the "good" children with committed parents. They can be summarily ejected for failure to meet academic participation rules, never mind disciplinary rules. The conventional public schools don't have that same latitude.

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