The State needs to rethink school discipline.

Written by MWUL   // October 2, 2011   // Comments Off

A thorough read of Sunday’s lead story “Delaware students suspended at twice the U.S. average” is numbing and instructive. The state’s rate has been higher than the national rate for five years. Most of the infractions are noncriminal.

However, most of the students involved are black, Latino or those with special needs, populations with histories of discipline problems since Delaware desegregated public schools in 1978 and after it formally abandoned racial integration efforts 20 years later.

 

However, most of the students involved are black, Latino or those with special needs, populations with histories of discipline problems since Delaware desegregated public schools in 1978 and after it formally abandoned racial integration efforts 20 years later.

As punitive measures to protect the learning environment of students who pose no classroom distractions, suspensions and expulsions have validity.

Too often this view is seized as sort of a moral high ground, when compared to racism and the root causes of poverty.
Yet as a method of reform, ejections have limited ability to change behavior. Statistically, behavior problems are the backdrop for higher dropout rates and less U.S. global competitiveness.

So rather than discarding “bad kids” to their own devices, it’s in Delaware’s interest to broaden its approach to school discipline.

Better classroom management, input from behavioral health specialists on why individual children are so difficult, and help with job-related stress for teachers are better options.
But cultural competency — the subject of “Schools must meet students’ diverse needs,” on today’s Opinion page — is critical.

It has the potential to take the bite out of racism concerns by helping schools create effective, relevant and rigorous learning environments for minorities.

Cultural competency will be among Education Secretary Lillian Lowery’s talking points at a community forum today about what the state’s first-place “Race to the Top” win means.

Funding from that $100 million prize depends on evidence-based successes.

That high-stakes criterion requires every school administrator, teacher, parent and student to rethink discipline issues with a focus on what solves the problem, beyond a penalty for being disruptive to the learning process.

The free 5:30 p.m. forum sponsored by DOE and black and Latino community groups takes place at the Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St. Call 622-4300 for details.


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