Rethinking school discipline

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A recent New York Times editorial looked at the growing intolerance toward “zero tolerance” school disciplinary policies. Since the 1990’s, school districts across the country have been ratcheting up the punishment, including suspensions for what are often minor infractions.

A three-year-old Texas study showed that nearly six in 10 public school students were suspended at least once between seventh and 12th grade, says the Times. But only a small percentage of those offenses were serious enough to warrant suspension according to the law. 

A study in Rochester had similar findings. Though the Rochester school district has reduced its out-of-school suspensions by implementing an in-house suspension program, thousands of students are still suspended yearly. It’s well-known that students who are suspended are at a much higher risk of not graduating and getting lured into criminal activities.

Lawmakers in Texas and California are taking steps to make it harder to remove students from school. And the Los Angeles school district is the first in the nation to ban suspensions for willful defiance, according to the Times.

But with these policy changes, we have to expect that funds would be increased to hire more guidance counselors, social workers, child psychologists, and special education teachers. But that hasn’t been the trend.



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