Student suspensions are still needed

When students disrupt learning in the classroom despite repeated warnings and counseling, they need to be suspended.  Yet because such suspensions show racial disparities, the entire policy is attacked (“NYC Student Suspensions Rise as Advocates Call for Change,” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1).

In New York City, for example, 46 percent of suspensions in 2017-18 involved black students who constitute 26 percent of enrollment.  Hence, critics charge the suspensions show racial bias.  But white students are suspended more than Asian students?  Does that mean the policy is racially biased against white students also?

If people have not taught in a public school, they have no idea how the presence of even one recalcitrant student can ruin the education for all other students and become a nightmare for the teacher.  When I was teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, busing began.  Teachers were not given any preparation for the influx.  Any attempt to discipline a disruptive student from that group was automatically denounced as racially biased.

As a result, teachers began to allow behavior that soon turned classrooms into chaos.  Not surprisingly, teacher morale was severely undermined.  I don’t think what happened at the high school where I taught for my entire 28-year career is unique.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Student suspensions are still needed”

  1. Completely agree. Suggest that schools implement “in-school” suspensions for most suspended students. As I understand the concept, an in-school suspension involves the suspended student attending his/her regular school but spending the entire school day in a separate classroom or other location. The in-school-suspension room is monitored by a teacher or other school employee. The suspended student must do his/her school work during the school day. I suppose the student always has the option of sitting and staring around. Perhaps schools could offer the in-school-suspension student the additional option of reading books kept in the suspension room in lieu of just staring around. If the student acts out in the in-school-suspension room, the student gets a regular suspension or reassignment to an “alternative” school or expulsion.

    I think that the in-school-suspension has several advantages over a regular suspension. For the student who hates being in school in the first place, the threat of an in-school-suspension is a better deterrent to misconduct than an out-of-school suspension. The in-school suspension makes it much less likely that the suspended student will get into real on-the-street trouble during the suspension. The in-school suspension increases the likelihood that the student will learn at least something during the suspension period.

    The main disadvantage of the in-school suspension is the cost to the school system of providing the suspension room and the monitors.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: When I was in school, punishment consisted of staying after school. I was in 5th grade and remember having to write 20 times on the blackboard that I would not talk in class. It worked for me. But my infraction was nothing compared to what students do today with immunity. I like the idea of placing disrupting students in special rooms. They can be given the class work they miss. Whether they do it is another story.

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