Suspending kids: Smart discipline or academic disaster?

Catlady has made my morning chores easier by already addressing the interesting story in today’s AJC about the number of suspensions in Georgia schools and whether all this time spent out of the classroom impacts learning and ultimately hurts rather than helps.

Gracie Bonds Staples reports:

According to state Department of Education figures, more than 370,000 students were placed in in-school and out-of-school suspension last year.

In all, Georgia students lost more than 1.8 million days of instruction last year due to suspensions.

As a parent, I will tell you that the threat of suspension catches my attention. In his senior year of high school, my oldest son began to slack off on getting to school on time. Based on his late slips, he never was more than three or four minutes late but his first period teacher was rightfully indignant. When we received the letter that he was nearing the point of suspension, we went bonkers and introduced a Marine-style regimen to his mornings, beginning with an occasional bugle wake-up by my trumpet-playing husband.

So, I understand the power of strong medicine in inducing behavior changes, both in parents and kids.

But it seems like missing class will only add to a student’s ill behavior. Here is what Catlady posted. Please read her comments and the story and let’s discuss as this is an important issue.

FROM CATLADY’S POST: I am appauled at the simplistic article in the paper that being suspended causes children to drop out. I guess we now will say that drinking coffee on an airline causes air turbulance!

Children are suspended for a reason. In my school, virtually NEVER, even for ISS. But I accept that in other counties discipline standards are better adhered-to. Children who are suspended have ALREADY dropped out–they have already disengaged, for various reasons, with their education. The children who do behave appropriately are already subjected to many, many hours of disruption by these in-school dropouts. That many of them are way behind is not a surprise. One of the ways that students get behind is failing to take any responsibility for their learning. I currently push into 2 classes where the majority of the students are a year or two behind in reading NOT because of lack of ability, but because their behavior interferes in their learning. They are accustomed to doing as they wish, and have no practice in focusing on anything they don’t want to do. Luckily they are grouped together now so they don’t impede the learning of so many others in reading. Unfortunately there are still a few kids in these classes who do want to learn but are impeded by lack of English. I’d like to get them out of there, as they lose significant time waiting on their classmates to engage in a positive way so that the class can go forward.

While being sent out of class is frequently a negative for these kids, it is a positive for the others in the class. And sometimes, as noted in the article, the PARENT can make the ISS experience positive for the child by reinforcing that it should not happen again.

Like the old days when parents had pride in their children’s positive behavior, instead of whining and giving more attention to them as “victims.

Maureen again: One of our regular posters is working on an op-ed for me on this issue and I hope she posts today as I think she takes a different view than Catlady.

What is your view?

101 comments Add your comment

TW

September 30th, 2009
8:07 am

Anybody know how much the average drop-out costs the state by the time they are 30 – if they make it?

catlady

September 30th, 2009
8:08 am

You need to look at which is the cart and which is the horse.

Maureen Downey

September 30th, 2009
8:10 am

TW, Take a look at this site. This group has done a study on the cost of dropouts by state although I don’t think the study is by age.
http://www.all4ed.org/
Maureen

Evil Old English Teacher

September 30th, 2009
8:13 am

I absolutely agree with Catlady. I have seen so many of my students’ learning suspended because of a disruptive student. Many parents throw up their hands to this behavior and exclaim they have no control over their child’s decisions at school. So, if these parents are not actively seeking a solution to their student’s problems , why should other parents’ children suffer? Their children should forfeit learning due to someone else’s lack of control? Some day we are going to have to accept the fact that learning and behavior are not mutually exclusive. I can not help you learn if you refused to be helped.
The impact would be immediate. If we remove suspension, the parental accountability will become completely absent. Suspension says to a student– Time out– you can not stop the right to learn for others. OSS is for SERIOUS infractions. That forces the kid to go home and for the (mostly) absentee parents to actually deal with their child.

After reading the article, I was most appalled by the mother who said her child’s numerous referrals and suspensions had less to do with his behavior and more to do with his being singled out. Talk about passing the buck.

I wonder when parents who actually do hold their children accountable for their decisions during school are going to get fed up. I wonder when teachers like me are going to get tired of fighting a system that does more harm than good. Mostly, I wonder when society as a whole is going to admit that until we treat education with same amount of importance that we treat TMZ and professional sports, our children will NEVER view it as valuable.

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
8:17 am

The question that never seems to be asked in this debate. At what point do we sacrifice the educational needs of the students who make a conscious choice to behave, in order to cater to the desires of the students who make a conscious choice to disrupt?

B

September 30th, 2009
8:23 am

Maybe I’m missing something because I am not an educator, just a concerned parent. Why is there so much emphasis placed on those who constantly misbehave and disrupt the learning experience for others? Why should I care if numerous suspensions leads to drop-out?

jim d

September 30th, 2009
8:33 am

OK, Cat I agree a good bit

BUT—there are students that just mess up ONCE (sometimes they learn quickly) and get caught up in a situation where serving ISS really hurts.

Point and case; Student wasn’t allowed to make up missed quizzes.
Teachers refused to share homework assignments with student while serving ISS
When student contacted friends in class to get assignments, teachers refused to accept the work.

So let me ask you; How does this help anyone when a kid just messes up? These are kids and YES they will sometimes screw up. Should it cost them? Certainly it should but penalizing a GPA for a one time incideent? I’m not too sure thats a effective method of punishment.

The ONLY reason they keep a kid in school is so they can continue to collect the money but keep the child in educational limbo while he serves ISS. But its all about the kids (RIGHT?

hawk teach

September 30th, 2009
8:34 am

B
That is a great question? That is a question a good parent asks. Unfortunately, that is a question a bad parent doesn’t even think about.

V for Vendetta

September 30th, 2009
8:35 am

I’ve said this before, and I will continue to say it until people understand the issue at hand. Education is not a right; it is a value to be pursued–assuming one recognizes it as a value. What can be done when parents fail to instill that value in their children? A teacher cannot combat such ignorance, especially high school teachers who see individual students for less than one hour per day.

Research shows that education is instilled as a value prior to the age of five. What then can be done for a seventeen-year-old who does not value education and acts out? Do we spend time worrying about his education? What about the educations of ALL THE OTHER STUDENTS affected by his actions?

As Mischa said in response to catlady’s post on the previous blog, in many districts it takes quite a few steps to arrive at Out of School Suspension (OSS). At that point, many chances have already been given–many other students already affected.

Yet we worry about the one who is suspended. It seems to me that our own sense of values needs an overhaul as well.

hawk teach

September 30th, 2009
8:41 am

Yes Jim kids will be kids and believe me I know I thaught one of yours. The kids that mess up on a one time incident are not the ones that get screwed up by ISS. They come and get the assignments from their teachers. They have parents that whip the butts for getting in trouble and they never do it again. ISS works in their case. My heart does not bleed for the kid that spends many days in ISS and never learns from his actions. Those kid’s grades in class or in ISS would probably be the same…… Failing. The only difference is that all the other kids around would not have to suffer from that kids behavior.

Maureen Downey

September 30th, 2009
8:44 am

Let me throw out another question: Why is there great inconsistency in the number of suspensions, not only by school, but by teachers of the same group of kids? I know many instances where a problem child in one classroom – frequent calls by the teacher over behaviors, suspensions – is a good student a year later in another class with another teacher.
And I have had teachers say that some of their colleagues over suspend and basically overreact to “normal” boy behaviors, in particular. I had a teacher of the year tell me that her whole view of behavior changed when she had her own teen and realized that some behaviors were just kids being kids.
I know there are real behavior problems in classrooms because I have seen them firsthand in my brief time in a high school. And I know that as a 24-year-old, I was not accustomed to teenage boy antics and probably overreacted myself to their foolishness, their sullenness and their wisecracks.
As one teacher who seldom suspends told me, “I’m a Scout leader and apply the same techniques to my class as to campouts. Keep ‘em busy, put something in their hands. Give them the classroom equivalent of starting a fire or chopping wood.”
Don’t some teachers suspend more than others
If so, why?
Maureen

Laura

September 30th, 2009
8:46 am

I used to teach at an alternative school where short term and long term suspension students were “housed” so they could make up their work and not “miss school” (even though they did – this was to keep POs happy and keep kids out of the crowded juvy where a lot belonged). While there, a vast majority didn’t do jack or squat with the opportunity they were given and got zeros on the work anyway. Those were the ones I kept seeing over and over again.

The kids who made the mistake and got 6 days OSS were the ones who worked their butts off, did all of their work, and never came back. There’s a difference between the attitudes of those two groups of kids and their parents.

I asked a student once that if the county had kept the rules as they were when I was in high school – get suspended and get zeros for everything missed – if they would have done what they did to get suspended. Their answer? No. I asked that question and got that answer over and over and over again.

There were fewer suspensions and major discipline infractions at the high school I graduated from when I went there 10 years ago versus today, and the numbers went up after the county instituted this coddling policy. If I were the parent of a kid who had to deal with the second hand repercussions of these kids’ misbehavior, I would be peeved that these kids are allowed, over and over again, to ruin the learning environment – but still be told that it’s ok.

TW

September 30th, 2009
8:46 am

Thanks Maureen.

catlady – good point. I’m just saying we need to acknowledge the cost of propelling the cart when the horse is dismissed. Talk of just ‘kick them out’ seldom takes this into account. Being that these kids don’t just disappear into thin air after theyr’e dropped or drop themselves, we might want to work this coefficient into the problem before we ’solve’ it.

jim d

September 30th, 2009
8:48 am

V,

we generally agree but again i ask about an A/B student that may have meesed up (not during school hours first semester of freshman year) that gets a week of ISS. While I agree with ISS as a punishment I question the punnishment when it negatively effects the childs grades particullarly when said child takes it upon himself to continue to stay up with his classwork.

William Casey

September 30th, 2009
8:51 am

I spent four of my 31 years as an educator as an administrator at Chattahoochee high school in North Fulton, primarily involved in student discipline. Previously, I had spent considerable time as an in-school suspension teacher, teaching regular classes the remaider of the day. It was a good program, part of a well-conceived progression of disciplinary conequences. Even then, it didn’t alays work. The key to success was the reaction of parents to ISS. It was a “wake-up” call that wasn’t always anserwed at home.

I also suspended many young people out of school. I hesitate to call most of them “students” because most of them weren’t students in any meaninful sense of the word. Out-of-school suspension is designed to protect the safety and integrity of the school environment rather than being a benefit to the suspended student. Of course, many of them viewed OSS as simply a vacation from school. It all depended on the parents.

My experiences in dealing with discipline taught me that “drpping-out” is not always a bad idea. No school can meet the needs of all students. The creation of the special education program thirty+ years ago was a great stride in that direction but even so, some adolescents simply don’t belong in an academic school. That’s unlikely to change. The million dollar question, of course, is: “what do they drop-out to?”

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
8:52 am

As far as the study referenced above, that there is a cost to this state when it comes to students who dropout is undeniable.

But what the study doesn’t address, and what we don’t seem willing to ask, is what is the cost to the state in allowing chronically disruptive students to compromise the learning process for well over a million students in this state?

Another question that doesn’t seem to be asked is, how might the needs of well behaved students and chronically disruptive students best be met if we were willing to cut the bloated educational bureaucracy, and divert those funds to alternative school settings?

Maybe what chronically disruptive students need is not an endless “cure du jour” that these bureaucrats push, but rather a setting where a teacher has the freedom to focus on basic comportment, and socially acceptable behavior as a major instructional goal.

Maybe we should ask ourselves what is the best return on our investment for the state; a central office bureaucrat having a job administering the “reforms” that allegedly address the needs of students, or a chronically disruptive children having an alternative school setting that just might provide them with a fighting-no pun intended-chance of being successful?

jim d

September 30th, 2009
8:56 am

Hawk teach,

Thanks, unfortunately a few teachers didn’t seem to follow protocol and it did affect the grades.

BTW, mine sends salutations from the SC Low country. and will be stopping by to say hey, next time home. he’s gotten pretty buff the past year (six pak and two guns) LOL

soccermom

September 30th, 2009
8:58 am

Just so you know, OSS is looked at as a free day by many students receiving it. It can be a much greater punishment to receive ISS.
If a student receives ISS, they should be given the day’s assignments and required to complete them for credit. Remember people, the object is to try to cause a change in the student’s behavior. ISS removes the disruptive student from the classroom so the other students can focus on what’s going on in class. If ISS simply digs the misbehaving ones deeper into the academic hole they might be in and solidifies the attitude problem, then what is gained? In my son’s high school, ISS can be given for not having your ID badge as well as a myriad of other minor infractions such as excessive tardies.
Oh and don’t be too down on the mom who thought her child’s suspensions were due to being singled out. It does happen on a regular basis. I see students who have reputations as clowns or troublemakers who are routinely hassled for things that the administrators, teachers, or school resource officers excuse in the students they like.

fred

September 30th, 2009
8:59 am

Teachers don’t suspend, Administration does that. Teachers make phone calls, talk to the student, move the student to a new spot, call home again,assign detention (maybe), try to work with the student in a new and research based method, etc, etc, etc… then they write a referral, what happens after that is up to the administration not the teacher.
Yes some teachers write more referrals than others, they are also for the most part more ignored by the admin than the teacher who writes only 2 or 3 referrals a year. Admin knows that when teacher Y writes a referral it is for something serious. I have seen teachers write referrals for students behavior that shouldn’t even warrant a second glance.
Jim, Most students who mess up one time are not harmed by ISS (IMHO). According to our school policy students are required to make up work missed due to time spent in ISS or OSS. so missing work should not be an issue. What could be an issue is the missed lecture, although with decent access to the internet and some researching skills, that should not be much of an issue either. The students who are affected are the students who spend a lot of time in ISS or OSS. But I do not have much sympathy for those students. Students who spend that much time in suspension are repeat offenders who are taking up valuable learning time from other students. It surprises me how little outrage there is from parents whose child’s learning is disrupted constantly by a small minority in the classroom, yet how vocal the parents of the disruptive students are.

TCHR

September 30th, 2009
8:59 am

Students behave only when there are compelling consequences for misbehavior. The key word is compelling. Students who tend to misbehave or disrupt class somehow must be convinced that their teachers and administrators have the ability to make their life miserable.

In my experience, the single most important thing in many of my students’ lives is the mobile phone. There is currently a state law that a student may have his/her drivers’ license suspended due to significant misbehavior. How about a law that makes it illegal for a mobile phone company to do business with a student for 12 months, or a law that makes it illegal for a student to be in possession of a mobile phone for 12 months, if that student passes some disciplinary threshold? And I think the bar should be pretty low for this one.

Let’s completely ruin their social existence!!! Other ideas:

–Mandatory use of big yellow school bus, even if other transportation options are available.

–Loss of eligibility to attend any school funtions–even as paying spectators–such as dances and football games

–Let them be in class, but absolutely prevent them from eating lunch with their peers. Have them eat in total isolation–and the food their served may only be fruits and green vegetables and water for the duration of the suspension. Absolutely no pizza, french fries, dessert or sugary drinks of any kind. Basically, make it as disgusting as possible on purpose.

–Make them unable to participate in any graduation-related activity. In other words, they can get a diploma, but cannot enjoy any senior year activities with their friends, or even be eligible to purchase class rings, caps, or gowns.

–Fix the yearbook so that it is as though they never attended the school, and make them ineligible to ever purchase a yearbook.

This is just a short list. I’m sure we could think of many others.

hawk teach

September 30th, 2009
9:03 am

Jim D. But it didn’t effect the outcome in the end. Why, because you and Mrs D. would not allow that. Two parents working together to make sure that their son stayed in line. Wow what a novel idea. And tell little Jim D to come on by anytime it would be great to see him.

soccermom

September 30th, 2009
9:05 am

To “TCHR”
YOU need to have an attitude adjustment! I don’t understand how such a mean-spirited, vindictive sounding person such as yourself 1. would want to be employed as a teacher of young people (or maybe you can’t succeed at anything else!) and 2. be employable on a longterm basis by any school system.
What a jerk!

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
9:09 am

TCHR has a point, if not the point, when it comes to what works. Compelling consequences.

I’m not saying the public schools, as a rule, aren’t willing to enforce them, but it’s a little known fact that, before Merriam-Webster is allowed to sell a dictionary to a school system, the words “compelling” and “consequence” must be removed.

jim d

September 30th, 2009
9:10 am

hawk teach,

who knows it may have impacted the end result–he’s been flying straight for a lot of years now. (knock on wood)

btw, thank you for your influence on him. I prolly never told you that.

TCHR

September 30th, 2009
9:14 am

Okay, okay…please recognize the sarcasm in most of my comment above. But I think the first half is a fairly sound argument.

Jennifer

September 30th, 2009
9:19 am

OK – you got me. :) As usual, on topics regarding behavior and punishment in schools, many folks I am sure will provide diverse opinions and hopefully a healthy and reasonable discussion will ensue.

Here is a fact – school suspensions undercut educational opportunities for students and remains one of the highest risk elements for dropping out of school and incarceration.

Here is a fact – We can all agree that disruptions in the classroom affect both the student who is disrupting and the rest of the class.

Here is what I would suggest- that we could all agree that if there are alternatives that are more effective than suspensions and they do not undercut educational opportunity – then they should be examined, discussed, and seriously put on the table in each of our 170+ school districts.

Do some research – There is much research in nation that suggests using programs like positive behavior supports, PBIS, actually reduces suspensions in the first place. In fact, there is quite a good deal of real district data here in Georgia through the GDOE that suggests that districts which have implemented PBIS are getting dramatic results in reducing suspensions. Programs like this and using options like detentions, or sending a kid to suspension for one class period versus an entire day and adding community service to the consequence require the political will of the district leadership. It also requires the funds of the district, and the engagement of a community to suggest alternatives to what in many districts has become a mindless assignment and reassignment of suspensions leading to thousands of students dropping out of school.

Consider this – I draw comparisons to another inflammatory topic unrelated to education. Some folks are for choice, some folks are not. But what both sides can agree on is that preventing unwanted pregnancies is something we can all advocate for. Same with the suspension arguments, some folks are pro suspensions, some folks say it is ineffective, what we all can agree on is that if there are tools out there to reduce suspensions in the first place – why would we not want to challenge our districts to consider them ? Everybody wins.

It is tiring to always only hear about the parents failure when it comes to discipline. Let’s stop scapegoating, let’s summon the political will on all sides and start implementing practices that work for every child. Just a thought.

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
9:22 am

TCHR,

Do you wonder, as I do, what soccermom might be willing to do if she got out of her metaphorical minivan and had to teach some of these students for a couple of years?

Why do I get the feeling if she had the authority, that within a month, Gitmo would have some new residents?

Jennifer

September 30th, 2009
9:26 am

TCHR- I want you to run for the school board in Gwinnett County. I love your post.

Joy in Teaching

September 30th, 2009
9:29 am

Maureen,

Teachers do not have the ablity to assign OSS or ISS. We do have the right to move students to different seats, call home, place them into time out for a few minutes and possibly assign detentions or silent lunch. That’s it.

I did write an office referral on a student the other day who flat out refused to do his exam and who raised quite a rucus in doing so. I couldn’t leave him in class to disturb otehrs and I couldn’t really leave class to go call mom AGAIN. And I certainly wasn’t going to face the wrath of mom and administrators for his poor quarterly average as a result of his choosing to not take his exam. Oh yes, he’d already served 2 detentions with me, had been moved around a few times, and had been in time out numerous times. The child was removed from my classroom and placed into ISS for the remainder of this week. And he will take his exam in ISS.

Student behavior (or misbehavior) is a CHOICE. While some students may not have effective parenting at home, they do have the opportunity to watch other students in their classes model correct and respectful behavior. Until teachers actually are able to use more effective discipline in their classrooms, then chronic offenders do need to be removed so as to not impede the learning environment of others. Schools can only do so much with what we have to work with.

ISS didn’t even exist in most schools until about 15 years ago. And now we have folks like Maureen wanting us to go even further to “help” those who choose to be disruptive. Goody. And the state can’t even afford to pay us what our contract states which is why I’ve been here late every night lately just so I can get ready for next quarter. Oh yes…and that’s probably why I had to get a part time job as well.

Thanks Maureen! Let’s just keep piling it on!

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
9:34 am

From Jennifer,

“Do some research – There is much research in nation that suggests using programs like positive behavior supports, PBIS, actually reduces suspensions in the first place”

A word of caution. A reduction in suspension does not automatically mean an improvement in behavior.

It is not unheard of for an administrator under the gun to reduce suspensions to introduce a “behavior program” and then simply refuse to suspend students for suspendable offenses so they can say the program was effective at curbing behavior.

Many people would think improving behavior and reducing suspensions go hand and hand, but when educators choose not to operate with integrity, you’d be surprised at how often it doesn’t.

soccermom

September 30th, 2009
9:36 am

Actually, I don’t drive a minivan or an SUV. I do interact with children other than my own on a daily basis in a teaching capacity. My interactions include mentoring several children who could be termed “less fortunate”, i.e. low income, uneducated parents who place no real value on school attendance or education, illegal immigration status, pressure to join gangs, and so on.

Tonya C.

September 30th, 2009
9:41 am

TCHR, I love you. But you know what…parents would scream like two-year-olds that their kids civil rights were being violated if you attempted to institute ANY of the fantastic suggestions you made. Why? Because many parents have become punks who refuse to acknowledge life has consequences, at least for their kids.

Jennifer, I’m going with MAM on this one. My hubby teaches at an alternative school, the school of last resort. The percentage of students who don’t give a dang is astounding! Despite being given a final opportunity at a normal education, the many of the students and parents don’t want to take an active role in ‘turning the tide’ so to speak. For many, they are FPAs–Future Prisoners of America. As a newer teacher, my husband is a believer in positive reinforcement and does his best to use it regularly. For many, they slap his olive branch down repeatedly because they just.don’t.care.

Jeff

September 30th, 2009
9:41 am

Even most of the old timers probably don’t know what I am about to tell:

In elementary school, I can’ t TELL you how many days I was suspended from the bus. All told, at LEAST a half a school year, maybe even a full school year’s worth by the time I finished 5th grade and moved to MS. Straight As there

In MS, I had at LEAST two bouts with ISS and at least two bouts with OSS. Think I came out of there with a single C in 3 years – and that wasn’t even from a class I had had very much suspension from!

In HS, in the first two years alone I had at least two bouts with OSS, and maybe a bout or two with ISS – don’t remember on the ISS one (a decade ago ppl, give me some slack here pls!). Also in HS, I was flat-out expelled. It was originally for 6 months (1 semester), I ASKED for a full year because I knew the similarities between that situation and the original situation in MS that kick started everything. My request was granted, and I spent a year at the local alternative school. At the end of that year, I had already started at Kennesaw State, and had never had a single serious behavior problem – and only a couple of minor ones. We had a level system for academics and behavior, and I was the ONLY student that year to get to the highest level the very first day it was available and NEVER drop. I was told I could stay at the alternative school for another year if I chose, and I accepted. I maintained that highest level of behavior and academics for the second year, though admittedly I spent FAR more time that second year (my senior year of HS) at KSU than the alternative school.

I graduated HS with a 3.75 GPA (after having gotten my first ever D in my sophomore year) and when I walked across the stage at HS graduation, I was already a junior at Kennesaw State. BTW: Graduated KSU 4 yrs later with a 3.33 GPA and (obviously) ZERO suspensions.

In other words, my LOWEST GPA ever was when I was NEVER suspended!

I’ve lived the life most of you are speaking of in generalities. I’ve seen it first hand both as a student who was getting suspended and as a teacher who had to recommend suspension quite a few times.

Ultimately, as always, it comes back to the STUDENT themselves. I chose to make something of myself, to prove everyone wrong who ever said anything bad about me because of the crap I went through back then.

If the STUDENT chooses to continue the behavior, they choose to continue to suffer the consequences of that behavior, PERIOD. If that means their grades suffer, so be it. They chose to commit the crime, they chose to do the time – even if they somehow thought they wouldn’t get caught or that making up the work would be both allowed and easy.

godogs

September 30th, 2009
9:44 am

Easy fix: Put students who CONTINUE to disrupt the classroom in settings where they can take on line courses. It removes them from the enviornment, while still keeping them on course. Altenative schools do this in many schools, and the results speak for themselves. Until a child matures, the classroom is not the best place for everyone. The problem with this approach is that is can be costly. If the state were to develop their on “online” courses, schools could tap into this idea without paying large sums of money for a kid who will not behave in the classroom at this point in his or her life. Everyone benefits. I’ve had kids go to alternative school and not want to come back because they knew they would get into trouble. They also like the structured environment and the ability to work on their own.

Maureen's accountability metric

September 30th, 2009
9:48 am

From Joy in Teaching

“Maureen, Teachers do not have the ablity to assign OSS or ISS. We do have the right to move students to different seats, call home, place them into time out for a few minutes and possibly assign detentions or silent lunch. That’s it.”

Joy in Teaching, that is an astute observation on your part. And indeed a very telling one, in that you have exposed a fundamental bias on Maureen’s part, in that you have exposed a mindset that it seeks first to find what the teacher is doing wrong, instead of looking for ways to support the teacher in doing what’s best for students.

Kudos, Joy in Teaching.

Gracie D

September 30th, 2009
9:48 am

I think kids should be suspended and get counseling for behavorial problems, fighting and bullying. To make up for the time and work that they have missed should be made to go to Saturday School the amount of days they’ve missed.

TCHR

September 30th, 2009
9:49 am

Here’s an example scenario:

When a student backtalks a teacher, or cusses in class, or disrupts class in some major or consistent way, all of that students friends should be asking one another for many days or weeks, “Have you seen so-and-so? What happened to him/her? Did their family move?” And the response that should be given: “Oh, he smarted off to Mrs. So-And-So” or “Oh, she wouldn’t stop acting out in class.” And then that group of friends should hang their heads in quiet resignation, wondering if the one who smarted off or disrupted class will ever be seen among them again.

Of course, that’s not what really happens. What really happens is: a kid misbehaves in class, all the students laugh (rather than shudder), the teacher hesitates to submit a disciplinary referral out of fear that she’ll be considered lacking in “classroom management skills”, if and when a referral is made the kid is given a few days of ISS or perhaps a day of OSS, and NOTHING CHANGES.

Tonya C.

September 30th, 2009
9:51 am

As a society, before we can change anything we must address our priorities. What is more important: The welfare of the greater good or the rights of the individual? In a public school setting, this is more important than most people realize. Are we willing to let the best and brightest sacrifice for the least likely to succeed?

As a parent of a special needs student with ADHD, I requested he spend the majority of his time in a non-inclusion classroom. It is not only best for him, it is a nod to the students and parents who can go on in a normal fashion and not be disrupted by his behavior. He excels and still gets a ‘normal’ educational experience.

TCHR

September 30th, 2009
9:52 am

But I should note: The kids who act out and disrupt class are still the minority. By and large, most kids are still excellent, well-parented, generally respectful, and rarely if ever need to be disciplined. I love my job. So we are talking about a minority here.

George Washington

September 30th, 2009
9:53 am

Soccer mom, you said, “I see students who have reputations as clowns or troublemakers who are routinely hassled for things that the administrators, teachers, or school resource officers excuse in the students they like.”

By “reputations as troublemakers” do you mean kids who routinely cause trouble in school? Man, I wonder why they are singled out. I can’t understand why someone who is a troublemaker would ever be watched closely in a school setting….the administrators should be hassling the kids that DON’T cause trouble, right?

godogs

September 30th, 2009
9:54 am

Ok, maybe not an easy fix. But, it would help many students that could possibly drop out or end up in prison. In this scenario, the student is removed from a traditional class and moved to a non-traditioanl settting with a relevant curriculum. May save some, not all.

Tonya C.

September 30th, 2009
9:55 am

TCHR, you very well know how much damage the minority of any population can do to the majority if not managed. One apple can spoil the bunch…

Shel

September 30th, 2009
9:56 am

It’s nothing wrong with suspension. It’s something wrong with being suspended. Do the crime u got to face the time. Secondly student and parents can set up something with the teachers where they can still get work done while being suspended. It all sounds like a bunch of excuses to me. If the child doesn’t put him or herself in a situation where they have to be suspended this wouldn’t be much of an issue. Don’t get suspended and you won’t get behind!!!!!!

George Washington

September 30th, 2009
10:04 am

TCHR…good point about the minority. Thats the problem here…we are worried more about the minority of people who don’t do the right thing rather than the majority of people who do the right thing.

People can argue this all day long, but the bottom line is this. If you don’t like getting suspended and falling behind, BEHAVE and EMBRACE the opportunity of getting an education. If you reject the system,the system rejects you!! If you embrace it, it embraces you. Sounds simple but it is just so hard for some to get.

Tony

September 30th, 2009
10:11 am

Suspension from school is a terrible but necessary option for school discipline. It should never be the first option, but we should not be wrongly judged because we have decided that firm discipline is in the best interest of all the children. The tone from the article and from some of the posted comments suggests that schools should not suspend students. Unfortunately, we must do so to protect the integrity of the classroom for others.

Some schools may overdo it with suspensions, but liberal American courts, greedy lawyers, and parents who think their children can do no wrong have eliminated nearly all disciplinary measures that were at one time available to schools. Discipline for special education students is especially contentious.

Our school is very fortunate to be in a community where the parents have high expectations for their children and they support the teachers when the kids mess up. The APs are instructed to be firm and fair in their administration of discipline and somewhat aggressive in order to reduce the harmful effects of class disruptions on other students.

To those who are asking about the cost for a dropout, a more important question might be “what is the cost on all the other children for keeping a disruptive student in school?”

TW

September 30th, 2009
10:14 am

“the bottom line is this. If you don’t like getting suspended and falling behind, BEHAVE and EMBRACE the opportunity of getting an education”

Sounds good, but when the results of this do not reduce the costs for those of us who do behave, shouldn’t we explore alternatives?

Or, are you saying this is as good as it gets?

V for Vendetta

September 30th, 2009
10:19 am

jim d,

At my school, a student in ISS always has a chance to make up missed work. In fact, we also allow OSS students to make up all missed assignments. Kids with parents like you often do the makeup work and their grades are unaffected. The others . . .

Maureen,

I had a student last year who was he11 on teachers. She was confrontational, disruptive, and had an extremely short fuse. For whatever reason, we clicked. She was almost always respectful to me. Although she failed first semester, she turned the ship around second semester and passed. I never had a problem with her.

catlady

September 30th, 2009
10:21 am

Jim, our ISS kids’ work DOES count toward their grade. Don’t know why we have so much inconsistencies from county to county.

However, I don’t think OOS kids should be afforded that same opportunity. To get OSS you have to have committed a MAJOR felony in our system. If so, you get the consequences of your actions.

V for Vendetta

September 30th, 2009
10:24 am

TW,

Yes, we SHOULD explore alternatives. Privatizing the system would eliminate this problem because a private school has the freedom to permanently remove a continually disruptive student. No more compulsory attendance!

DigALittleDeeper

September 30th, 2009
10:34 am

In regards to today’s topic Suspending kids: Smart discipline or academic disaster?”; I believe that it’s truly an academic disaster.
I’m a parent who only wants the best for my child. However, I take my civic duty as a parent a little further; because I absolutely want the best for all children. I’m constantly talking to the kids in my family and in my neighborhood about discipline and the need for an education. I’m disappointed in some of the attitudes of the children I encounter and their parents. However, I am mostly disappointed in the attitudes of some of the teachers and administrators I encounter in schools and some of them who post on this blog.

Some of the schools in this country need a mentoring program; be it for disciplinary problems or academic achievement. These children need our help, inside and outside of school. If we suspend them and not provide the right kind of leadership to put them on the path to success, we are definitely going to lose them. Children who are acting out need to be put into programs inside and outside of school, that can help them to improve their attitudes about school and about getting an education.

I’m not here to criticize our teachers or administrators, because I believe that they need to be aware of resources that they can point a child and his/her parents too that can help get their children on the right path. I believe programs like the Boys and Girls club should have partnerships with the school systems. I believe that schools systems should reach out to colleges, universities and the business community to put together programs for mentoring children in the community.

In addition, I believe that school counselors can put their skills to work in a more effective manner by creating mentoring or other programs in their schools that can help children improve disciplinary problems.
But, what bothers me “the most” is that no one seems to care or wants to listen whenever someone like myself have suggestions.

Stop kicking kids out of the classrooms and school, they need help.

As adults, sometimes we need to dig a little deeper.