Suspension is an adult choice with disastrous consequences

A new study out from the CSG Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, has released an humongous statewide study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students, followed for at least six years. This is a major, major study with unprecedented depth and breadth.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study on How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

This study is staggering, and not just for its documentation of the “prison pipeline” that suspension policies create. Not even for the finding that when students are suspended or expelled, the likelihood that they will repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or become involved in the juvenile justice system increases significantly. Or even that African-American students and children with particular educational disabilities who qualify for special education were suspended and expelled at especially high rates.

All those sobering facts pale in comparison to the finding that as the Washington Post story says, “Here’s one myth of school debunked: Harsh discipline is not always a reflection of the students in a particular school. It can be driven by those in charge. In a study of nearly a million Texas children described as an unprecedented look at discipline, researchers found that nearly identical schools suspended and expelled students at very different rates.

This study shows that suspension isn’t something that is “forced” on schools who have to deal with out-of-control kids and bad communities.

So this is a choice. A choice adults make that has disastrous consequences for children and society. And now, a completely unjustified choice.


3 Replies to “Suspension is an adult choice with disastrous consequences”

  1. I love this post! Since my experience at my first teaching gig, I have believed that schools can be and are made into training grounds for jail. Then all this NCLB non-sense came along and I saw a trend. First Reagan administration started privatizing jails… then the Bush administration starts to overwhelmingly privatize schools, so now schools and jails are for profit, of course they want their population to meet their bottom line; and they are creating it right in our schools. I am outraged more people have not seen this connection and don’t actively protest in their communities against these crimes against children. I can’ t believe educators buy into punitive school rules, simple psychology will tell you that most punishments are a revenge. Adults have to decide to be in control and act like they are while giving respect and care to the children left in their care.

  2. I like the fact my principal doesn’t suspend for innocent mistakes. I had a student go on a camping trip. He left a pocket knife in the pocket of the backpack. Principal let him turn it to the office and have the parent pick it up. (Dad did ground him because he was told specifically to make sure the knife was put up).

    Another time a student brought Karate weapons to school to show off what he learned. I called the parents and she arranged to pick him up instead of him riding the bus home. I e-mailed principal and AP, and they thanked me for handling it.

    The problem is the real bullies. Why should a whole grade of girls fear that they are gong to be raped by a student who is dead serious? Students who harm other students need to be out of the regular classroom. Get them help, but don’t sacrifice the other students to them. If the school won’t stop them then I’ll keep encouraging the victims and their parents to press charges against bully crimes are crimes. I also think that if administrators coddle bullies and allow the to harm other students child neglect charges should be filed against the administrators.

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