Defiance no reason to suspend students, board president says
By Teresa Watanabe
April 11, 2013, 2:29 p.m.
Administrators in the Los Angeles Unified School District would no longer be allowed to suspend students for mouthing off or other acts of “willful defiance” under a groundbreaking school board resolution set to be proposed next week.
Amid rising national concern that harsh discipline practices disproportionately harm minority students, the resolution by board President Monica Garcia would mark the first state ban on suspensions for willful defiance.
Instead, schools would be required to use less punitive alternatives to deal with behavioral problems. Students have been suspended for such acts as wearing hats, tapping their feet on the floor and refusing to read as directed under the willful defiance category, which accounts for nearly 42% of all suspensions in California and about one-third in L.A. Unified.
Garcia was scheduled to appear at a rally Thursday with hundreds of students and community activists to kick off a citywide campaign to pass the resolution, the School Climate Bill of Rights. ...
Faer said two decades of research has shown that suspending students does not improve behavior but only places students at higher risk for dropping out or running afoul of the law.
Yeah, but suspension gets them out of the classroom, allowing other students to learn. But who cares about the cooperative students who want to get an education? They're not official victims, so they don't count.
Studies have also shown that harsh discipline policies are used more frequently with African American youth and students with disabilities. In an analysis of federal data released this week, the UCLA Civil Rights Project reported that African Americans accounted for 26% of L.A. Unified’s suspensions in 2009-10 but make up less than 10% of the district’s students.
However, the district has made progress in reducing suspensions overall. The number of instruction days lost to suspensions decreased to 26,286 in 2011-12, compared to 74,765 in 2006-07.
Garcia’s resolution would direct all schools to develop two alternatives to suspension that research has shown to be effective: restorative justice practices, which include peer mediation, counseling and face-to-face meetings among involved parties and a program to improve schoolwide behavior through clear expectations and incentives.
How about afterschool detentions doing humiliating litter pick-up in front of other students under the domineering command of an assistant football coach? It's not as if the human race has zero experience at how to intimidate young punks into line.
The resolution would also require the district to release data on suspensions every quarter and set up a complaint process for students and parents if their schools do not establish the two prescribed alternative programs.
LAUSD schools already have to release suspension data every year for the benefit of plaintiffs' attorneys trawling for disparate impact discrimination lawsuits. (For example, here is the suspension data by race for the expensive new East Valley high school in North Hollywood. This campus cost $130 million to build for 1,593 seats, but its enrollment is only 1,001, or $130,000 per student.) Apparently, though, the civil right lawyers don't find that fast enough for the purposes of getting their hands in LAUSD's deep pockets.
There's always a lot of talk about how We Need Better Teachers. One way to get better people to go into teaching is to not make their working days a living hell in the name of fighting racism.
If you want to see the mindset of the people who work to undermine the schools, watch Mike Leigh's insufferable movie "Happy-Go-Lucky" about a London schoolteacher. From my review in The American Conservative:
Most people in “Happy-Go-Lucky” have pleasant government jobs. Judging from this movie, the British welfare state exists mostly so people with soft college degrees can have some place to hang out together while making plans for which pub or disco to go to after work. ...
One vignette of this momentum-free movie unwittingly exemplifies the female cluelessness that has made Britain’s schools a dystopia of juvenile male thuggishness. When one of her students starts punching other children, does Poppy punish him? No, she signs the bully up for counseling, which consists of three adults—the headmistress, Poppy, and her future boyfriend—sitting around praising the little lout and asking him what’s the real reason he hits people. (Actual answer, but not one conceivable in Mike Leigh's mental universe: it’s fun.)