In an attempt to avoid accusations of racial bias, too many schools have eliminated suspensions (“Classroom chaos – de Blasio’s ‘gift’ to NY kids,” New York Post, Mar. 14). The result has been disorder on a scale not seen before. How did this happen?
I trace the cause of chaos to the student-rights revolution, which gave due-process protections to students for the most minor aspects of school discipline after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Goss v. Lopez in 1975. Then one year later the high court in Wood v. Strickland held that if public school teachers or principals violated those rights, they could be held personally liable for financial damages.
Not surprisingly, teachers and administrators began to walk on eggs, lest they be held liable. Further exacerbating matters, data showed that blacks and Hispanics were disciplined more than whites and Asians. But when the authority of school officials is undermined, learning cannot take place for all students regardless of their race. To avoid suspensions and lawsuits, reformers propose the use of restorative justice. School administrators claim it works, citing the drop in suspensions after it was implemented. But correlation is not causation.
Until teachers once again are allowed to act in loco parentis, I expect further disorder. Most students want to learn, but they are held hostage by the behavior of a few. It’s time to remove the latter from the classroom and place them in special rooms where they cannot cause harm to others.
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