Schools

Massachusetts Will Make Schools Suspend Fewer Students

Using collected data, the state identified schools heavily prone to expelling and suspending students.

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Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Monday plans to "reduce the inappropriate or excessive use of long-term suspensions and expulsions" in schools.

These punishments, according to both national and Massachusetts data, primarily affect black and Hispanic students, as well as those with disabilities. Additional research has found suspended students are also more likely to drop out.

Due to Massachusetts regulations that went into effect in 2014, the department is required to identify schools with the highest percentage of students either expelled or suspended for more than 10 days in a school year. Based on the data collected, 42 schools and districts will participate in this project, including 10 charter schools.

According to a statement from the department, it will work with schools and districts to reduce this rate through forums starting in the fall. While the department is required to recommend models to help reduce these punishments, these forums will also be a chance for education officials "to understand the various reasons that schools and districts suspend and expel students as well as how the agency can be helpful to and learn from schools and districts statewide."

Yet a concern among local leaders is the newness of the regulation, resulting in questions about the accuracy of the collected data. Fitchburg Public Schools Superintendent Andre Ravenelle told the Worcester Telegram & Gazzette there is not enough uniformity among schools with regard to how incidents are recorded and interpreted.

In addition, it is hard not to be a tad skeptical about the state's ability to figure out what's best. Schools know their students better than the state, and giving the department too much of a say regarding changes could be more damaging than beneficial. Forums are fine for discussing the best avenues for addressing problems, but when it comes time to implement new policies, shouldn't schools and districts have the freedom to decide the best approach?

Still, the original idea sounds promising. Schools are supposed to be places where students learn both academic and life lessons, including proper behavior. If kids are continuing to be kicked out of class, it does not provide them the chance to learn and—as research suggests—pushes them towards committing further crime later in life.

The effectiveness of punishments such as suspension has been questioned in recent years, especially as use of these practices has grown. A recent study found while the rate of suspensions and expulsions has increased, student behavior did not improve.

On the other hand, research shows schools that encourage positive behaviors over punishing negative ones not only have a decrease in disciplinary problems, but also an increase in test scores.

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  1. And does Taxachesetts have a plan to make black and Hispanic students fall into line and behave like the whites? Huh? I think the solution is to call expulsion something else, something less perjorative. Homeschooling Headstart Program.

    1. Call it a school holiday.

    2. The reason blacks and Hispanics are suspended more often than whites is because they misbehave more often than whites, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice. See John Paul Wright, et al., “Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions,” 2014, Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 42, pp. 257-266. The black misconduct rate is much higher than the white rate.

      But Massachusetts wrongly assumes that this higher suspension rate is just the result of racism by teachers, and is going to push the schools into adopting what are effectively racial quotas in suspensions:

      “The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) announced plans today to work with more than three dozen schools and districts to reduce the inappropriate . . . use of long-term suspensions and expulsions, including disproportional rates of suspensions and expulsions for students with disabilities and/or of students of color. . . .The state law and regulations that took effect in 2014 required ESE to identify schools . . . schools and districts with significant disparities in suspension and expulsion rates among different racial and ethnic groups or among students with and without disabilities.”

      It’s ironic for Reason to not point out that this is illegal, since in the past, Reason criticized such racial quotas in school suspensions as being unconstitutional:

      https://reason.com/blog/2014/11…..ial-bias-i

      Is Reason going PC?

      1. Libertarianism is just getting with the times, apparently

        “Most libertarians accept that using government force to end private discrimination under the Civil Rights Act was necessary to undo two centuries of government-enforced private discrimination in the form of slavery and Jim Crow.”

        https://reason.com/archives/201…..r-two-wont

        1. The fact that Shikha Dalmia and Steve Chapman even get published by this magazine hurts their credibility as far as I’m concerned.

          1. I don’t read here enough to have my list ready, I’ve always liked Walker and Doherty though, can’t say I care too much for Gillespie. Just like with BHL, I enjoy reading alternative takes on libertarianism though even if I can’t agree with much of it.

            1. But, OMG, his (Brennan’s) fight with adjuncts when he pointed out the economic realities and the fierce competitive pressure TT positions have. That was awesome.

              1. Yeah, A little Brennan went along way but he was good (I haven’t read BHL in a while so I don’t know if he’s still around), his two books were excellent though.

          2. I was thinking the same thing, Free Society.

  2. So fewer suspensions and more bodyslams?

    1. Personally, I like the suplex better.

      1. Truckstop powerbomb

  3. Don’t we already have several schools doing this?

    I haven’t read many good things about the outcomes. (I probably only remember the negative things I read though)

    1. There are no positives that have come from this.

  4. They are doing this where I live, and the main result is that the kids who are actually violent bullies get to stay in the classroom, disrupt the lessons, and terrorize the good kids.

    1. This is apparently true in the Twin Cities, where students and teachers have been attacked, and many classes disrupted, after the school districts curbed suspensions of even violent or disruptive students (the motive for cutting the suspensions was that many of the students suspended were minorities):

      http://www.startribune.com/the…..372619741/

      1. But when 8 year old Johnny draws a picture of a gun, they go ballistic.

      2. The Massachusetts regulations similarly have a racial focus. They provide that:

        “Through use of statistical analysis, the Commissioner shall identify schools and districts with
        data that reflect significant disparities in the rate of suspension and expulsion by race and
        ethnicity, or disability. Such schools and districts shall develop and implement a plan approved
        by the Department to address such significant disparities.”

        This pressure to eliminate group “disparities,” regardless of students’ actual conduct, will prod school districts to take race into account when deciding whether to discipline a member of a group that has already experienced many suspensions.

        It echoes the decree struck down as unconstitutional in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997), which struck down as a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause a provision that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline.”

        1. My wife was president of the school board that took that case to the 7th circuit where Posner ultimately brought an end to forced busing and discipline quotas ( an excellent, well crafted opinion for anyone who gets a chance to read it). The board that came in after her immediately instituted a “socio economic” integration scheme and continued the discipline policies albeit without explicit quotas claiming fear of another lawsuit. The reality is that “educators” love this kind of crap because, at it’s core, the primary function of public schools is social engineering.

  5. “On the other hand, research shows schools that encourage positive behaviors over punishing negative ones not only have a decrease in disciplinary problems, but also an increase in test scores.”

    OK, I have an idea.

    Let schools encourage students to respect each other, the teachers, and the learning environment by allowing students who engage in these positive behaviors to remain in school. Yay, positive reinforcement!

    But have one or two schools in the district run by hippies who don’t believe in punishment. Parents could voluntarily send their kids there, and kids who misbehave will be sent there involuntarily, where they can avoid the school-to-prison pipeline and stay off the streets and out of the way of the good kids whose parents *want* them to have a decent learning environment.

    1. “encourage positive behaviors”

      “Yay, Thomas, I love the way you didn’t start beating on the weird student. See, Nelson, if you stopped beating other kids up, I’d give *you* positive reinforcement, too! Nelson, take that kid’s head out of the toilet while I’m talking to you! You’re lucky I’m not a racist teabegging reactionary, or you’d be in so much trouble right now…”

        1. The mere fact you say you are not a racist teabagging reactionary means you are one.

          /progthink

  6. Schools are not where you learn proper behavior. That’s supposed to be at home, which is the major part of the problem.

  7. Seriously, have a No-Suspension Positive Reinforcement Junior High in the system where the misbehaving kids are assigned. Let hippie parents send their kids there, too. The other schools in the district would have a receptacle for their troublesome kids.

    Then, since the No-Suspension Positive Reinforcement Junior High will be availing itself of all the latest research, it will obviously have a better record than the other schools, and parents will trip over each other trying to get their kids out of the reactionary, punitive suspension schools and into the no-suspension positive reinforcement school.

    /kind of sarc but not really

    1. That’s really not a terrible idea. Might be an idea for a charter school. Let it live or die on its merits.

  8. No mention of concern for the students who didn’t get suspended?

    1. Why? They’re obviously privileged.

  9. Charters hardest hit.

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  11. A recent study found while the rate of suspensions and expulsions has increased, student behavior did not improve.

    One suspects *average* student behavior did.

  12. What are these “disabilities” they keep talking about? Kids in wheelchairs? Somehow I doubt it.

    1. They’re talking about boys who screw up like boys always have.The women who control the public schools cannot tolerate male children so they get labeled as disabled and doped up on ritalin. Problem solved until they’re teenagers and start screwing up like 8 year olds because they never learned how to act.

      1. So, “learning disabilities”.

        1. There was a kid in my class who was disabled in the slightly brain damaged sort of way who was pretty violent and disruptive. He almost bashed a teacher over the head with a stool once, but my friend stood behind him and grabbed it (which was pretty damn funny at the time). He never seemed to get suspended. I think he ended up in the Army.

          I don’t know if there is a point to that story.

  13. If kids are continuing to be kicked out of class, it does not provide them the chance to learn

    But it may provide the *other* students a chance to learn.

  14. “Schools are supposed to be places where students learn both academic and life lessons, including proper behavior. If kids are continuing to be kicked out of class, it does not provide them the chance to learn and?as research suggests?pushes them towards committing further crime later in life.”
    Or we could abolish compulsory schooling and let them learn those lessons from their parents and by their successes and failures in a free society.

  15. Nothing like forcing eager students to be dragged down kids whose purpose is to disrupt. But the point of school is to prepare you for the real world. The productive students will become productive workers and will be paying for the non-producers’ food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, entertainment, and certainly healthcare.

  16. They should just give them in-school suspensions instead (assuming they are deserving of punishment or too disruptive). I always thought it was funny that that was a lower level of punishment than an out of school suspension or expulsion. Having to sit in a room all day at school seems much worse.

  17. They should just give them in-school suspensions instead (assuming they are deserving of punishment or too disruptive). I always thought it was funny that that was a lower level of punishment than an out of school suspension or expulsion. Having to sit in a room all day at school seems much worse.

  18. Still, the original idea sounds promising. Schools are supposed to be places where students learn both academic and life lessons, including proper behavior. If kids are continuing to be kicked out of class, it does not provide them the chance to learn and?as research suggests?pushes them towards committing further crime later in life.

    You know, I think not punishing violent little shits might have the effect of making them think they can get away with the same shit once they’re out of school.

    Which would land EVEN MORE black kids in prison.

    Then you could up your ‘disparate impact’ whining AGAIN.

    What is it you’re going for? No laws apply to black people at all?

    Will it all be like racism–where only white people can be guilty of it?

    You, I’ve seriously started to wonder if there were EVER racist judges or cops or other public officials acting on their racism. We’ve been fighting this ‘disparate impact’ battle for a few decades now–desperately trying to get racism out of the equation by making it harder and harder for black people to offend and things just haven’t gotten any better. Black judges preside over cases with black criminals brought in by black cops–and every layer of the whole equation complains about ‘racism’. Cities controlled by black people go into the shitter with a regularity that can’t be ignored–and we still act as if there’s some hidden white hand, deliberately fucking it all up for them.

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