Counterintuitive logic about discipline and achievement gap

I wanted to share an op-ed from Jacob Vigdor, a professor in Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Department of Economics, on the federal discipline data that was released last week. This piece will run on the Monday education op-ed page.

By Jacob Vigdor

A recently released report has spawned new outrage over an old problem: Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be suspended from school than white students. The knee-jerk reaction to this finding is to think it unjust, reflective of lingering racism among school principals and disciplinarians, and no doubt a contributor to the achievement gap.

If you believe that, ask yourself if you also believe the following things:

1. There are many students — of all races — who walk the straight and narrow path without being prodded. There are also some, of all races, who cause trouble, but the threat of punishment keeps them in line at least to some extent.

2. The presence of disruptive students in a classroom makes it more difficult for other students to learn.

3. Students who grow up in tough circumstances — with a single parent in the household, or in a foster family — are probably at higher risk of acting out.

4. The average school principal — or, more precisely, the average principal in a predominantly black or Hispanic school — is probably unlikely to be a bigoted racist.

If statements one through four seem reasonable to you, then you should also believe the following: the school discipline gap does not exacerbate the test score gap. In fact, closing the school discipline gap would make the test score gap worse.

How do we move from statements one through four to that radical conclusion? The key is paying attention to the work of University of Rochester economist Joshua Kinsler, who has found evidence to support each of the four points. Here’s the logic that ties them together.

Blacks and whites who attend the same school, as it turns out, are not treated all that differently when they misbehave. Yet there is a school discipline gap. The reason is that predominantly black schools are harsher on all students. You might think this is racist, but Kinsler’s work shows that black and white principals alike are tougher on kids in predominantly black schools. That supports point 4.

Kinsler’s work further offers some insight into why harsh discipline is the name of the game in these schools. Because of racial economic inequality, these schools tend to have a higher proportion of high-risk kids — the ones who grow up in tough circumstances. That supports point 3.

Kinsler’s work also shows that high-risk kids behave better under a harsh discipline regime. So tough disciplinary standards are neither arbitrary nor capricious; they are a tool principals use rationally to manage potential behavior problems. That’s point 2.

Finally, Kinsler shows that removing a highly disruptive child from a classroom — by suspending that child, in- or out-of-school, helps the other children in the classroom focus on their studies. So that means principals aren’t just going after bad behavior. They want to create an environment where students can learn. It is true that keeping the misbehaving child out of the classroom deprives him (and it’s usually a him) of learning opportunities, but principals value the needs of the many above the needs of the one. And who can blame them. That’s point 1.

So consider what happens if we eliminate racial disparities in school punishment, for example, by banning suspensions. The whole system unravels. In the schools with few high-risk students, nothing much changes. In the more disadvantaged schools, behavior worsens, misbehaving students remain in their classroom and disrupt the learning of their classmates to a greater extent. Academic performance worsens in the disadvantaged school, but stays about the same in the more advantaged school. And just like that, the test score gap widens.

You may be skeptical of my rhetorical sleight of hand, but Kinsler’s work, published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, is based on sound data analysis.

Another way to think about it is this. Do you trust the principal in your child’s school? Do you think that person has the best interests of your child at heart? If so, why would you advocate removing a tool — a blunt one, to be sure, but a tool nonetheless — from the toolbox of strategies available to help all children reach their highest potential?

School administrators don’t always get things right; the honest ones will be the first to tell you that. But without strong evidence to the contrary, it is certainly reasonable to give them the benefit of the doubt.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

71 comments Add your comment

dteacher

March 10th, 2012
9:11 pm

I hope Dekalb’s in-school and central office administration read this.

The “call the parent” approach to discipline is not working.

Jayne

March 10th, 2012
9:24 pm

Refusing to discipline a child who is acting out is saying that we don’t care about that student or about the other students that must deal with the disruption.

Beverly Fraud

March 10th, 2012
9:43 pm

So FINALLY someone is willing to admit it.

It really IS the discipline, Stupid!

And to think at one time this blog claimed that discipline wasn’t a “pressing issue.”

Beverly Fraud

March 10th, 2012
9:48 pm

Given the general take (dare we say ‘agenda’?) on discipline issues in this blog, to see this COMMON SENSE piece in the blog (how anyone thinks this is “counter-intuitive” is beyond me) and to see it in PRINT (as an op-ed no less) leads to one unmistakeable conclusion:

Pigs must be flying…over a FROZEN Hades.

INDEED!

Brandy

March 10th, 2012
10:09 pm

Wonderfully written and addressed some of the questions I have (had) regarding the earlier post/reporting of the Fed report.

I would love to highlight one quote (yes, it is a partial quote and yes I am not trying to negate or disguise the meaning of the original, full quote), that we should all remember when we delve into thinking that we can just remove problem students and everything will be sunny and bright–they are still children with a right to an education too and if they continue to cause problems they will cost us far more as they grow up: “It is true that keeping the misbehaving child out of the classroom deprives him (and it’s usually a him) of learning opportunities”. I feel that we need to resurrect and create alternative avenues for these children, be it alternative school, vocational programs, or more intensive in-school AND out-of-school resources so we do not deprive one group at the advantage of another. Look into how much money long-term incarceration costs and factor in all of the other costs: police salaries and overtime, higher judicial case loads and larger judicial budgets, costly recidivism cycles, and more.

crankee_yankee

March 10th, 2012
10:14 pm

Nice to see research that suppports what we see in the schools everyday.

hssped

March 10th, 2012
11:07 pm

Finally!! I get so tired of the whining and complaining and the ACLU getting involved. I was actually investigated for writing an office referral for a black student (I was picking on him because he was black and I am white) and come to find out….I didn’t write up the kid. My Asian sub wrote him up and put my name on the form. Well…I sure hope someone felt like an idiot.

Back in the mid 90s, Clayton County used to send kids to Fort Gillem for a week in lieu of OSS. We would amend the IEPs of sped ed kids and they could go to. I don’t know why they stopped that program.

Whatever…I was tickled to read the above report and can’t wait to read the comments that are yet to come!

The Deal

March 10th, 2012
11:23 pm

I am all in favor of a well-advertised school where disciplinary problems are sent for 2 days, 6 days, or 2 months, depending on the offense. Kids should be well aware of it and scared of it, parents should be well aware of it, and teachers and principals should use it whenever it is needed. They owe it to the other kids in the class.

still love to teach...

March 10th, 2012
11:47 pm

Finally! I’m so tired of all the meetings preaching to us to use “positive interventions” that just do not work for some students. We are constantly told, “research shows….blah, blah, blah.” The kids are running the school; they know there are no consequences. I have mentioned this to our principal when we have our Class Keys conversation, but she does not want to hear it. We have to get discipline back into our schools. Now, I can point to this research! Love it! Dare I have hope that the tides are a-changing?

nick

March 11th, 2012
12:10 am

Here is the full essay.

http://www.econ.rochester.edu/people/Kinsler/jkinsler_suspensions.pdf

Interesting points:

1) Schools sacrifice X student(s) with disciple issues for the sake of school achievement as a whole
2) Schools establish the rules of engagement beforehand – IE X infraction = X consequence
3) Minority students are likely to have less of an achievement impact than whites who are suspended for X number of days b/c statistically they would have scored lower to start
4) School integration (bussing) would help even the discipline playing field as to spread around potential disciple violators

Two points you can’t quantify are parent involvement and teacher/administrator biases and prejudices; nonetheless, Dr. Kinsler touches upon ‘em with point three (…single parent homes…..) and the argument within the full essay to have set consequences for X infractions….this sounds good in theory; however, it takes away school flexibility….maybe this is needed??

I, too, will be interested in logical (not emotional and irrational) thoughts and comments.

Brandy

March 11th, 2012
1:48 am

Thanks, Nick!

I had a feeling the conclusion/solution mentioned was somewhere in this research…Hmm, time to do more research myself.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 11th, 2012
3:16 am

Some basic figuring: If 97 out of every 100 Black and Hispanic kids complete a school year without being suspended or expelled, while 99 out of every 100 White kids do so, Black and Hispanic kids are three times more likely than Whites to be suspended or expelled.

Beverly Fraud

March 11th, 2012
5:41 am

“Kinsler’s work also shows that high-risk kids behave better under a harsh discipline regime.”

Firm, CONSISTENT consequences in a STRUCTURED environment.

Who knew?

Apparently works MUCH better than ERASERS.

Beverly Fraud

March 11th, 2012
5:47 am

Maybe the most shocking thing about this post is the title:

‘Counterintuitive logic about discipline and achievement gap’

Why in the world would ANYBODY call this ANYTHING but COMMON SENSE?

Counter-intuitive? I guess common sense really ISN’T that common.

Chaos

March 11th, 2012
6:29 am

An entire class has a far greater chance of success if discipline problems and distractions are held to a minimum. Clear, consistent rules that are adhered to benefit all involved. Nice to see some research that backs it up.

@Beverly – it is far too early in the morning for your all caps typing. People will take you more seriously when you stop with the cyber-rants. Just sayin’

Beverly Fraud

March 11th, 2012
7:21 am

@Beverly – it is far too early in the morning for your all caps typing. People will take you more seriously when you stop with the cyber-rants. Just sayin’

Maureen, is there an ITALICS function on this blog?

Still, the POINT made has OBVIOUSLY been taken seriously by SERIOUS guys such as Vigdor and Kinsler

mom3boys

March 11th, 2012
7:23 am

I have a great idea for the kids who choose to misbehave: online schools. Forget the alternative school…they all seem to have the technology (ok, a few don’t), so why not suspend them to an online program. If they truly care about missing school (ha!), let them prove it by completing the online program. Shoot, as much of a headache as these frequent fliers are, we teachers might even chip in for a computer for them!

Reasonable and Rational

March 11th, 2012
7:37 am

This is a reasonable and rational piece. Chronically disruptive students need to be removed to an in-school suspension situation as they were in my high school. The chronically disruptive student was required to study alone in a room with just he or she with their books, an assignment and a coach or teacher. It worked.
Thank you, Maureen, for this insightful look at WHY black students are punished more often white students — The reason is that predominantly black schools are harsher on all students. You might think this is racist, but Kinsler’s work shows that black and white principals alike are tougher on kids in predominantly black schools” because “racial economic inequality, these schools tend to have a higher proportion of high-risk kids — the ones who grow up in tough circumstances.”

It’s reasonable, rational and accurate.

Good Job Get Schooled
Good Mom

carlosgvv

March 11th, 2012
7:46 am

If a large school has blacks, whites and hispanics, and if the black and hispanic students are more likely to be suspended than whites, the liberal knee-jerk reaction is to look for racism. It is not politically correct to say that black and hispanics are simply more likely to misbehave. Instead, the convoluted statements are issued and then the social experiments begin.

cris

March 11th, 2012
7:53 am

I don’t know about any other district than my own, but students who are suspended may request the classwork that they are missing while they are suspended….the percentage who actually follow through is very low. Discipline is huge – when you have extremely disruptive students and you have to follow a very long, scripted paperwork-supported protocol (IEP) to get them out of the classroom the students who care about getting an education become more angry than I do at times. They don’t know and honestly don’t care about the disruptive students right to an education – they just know that THEIR right to an education is being infringed upon!

Pardon My Blog

March 11th, 2012
8:04 am

Sadly, a lot of the students who misbehave want to be suspended because they know there will be no punishment at home. Suspension should be miserable for the student with boot camp type discipline and additional homework requirements.

bootney farnsworth

March 11th, 2012
8:26 am

damn. someone just discovered water is wet.

fact: disipline problems @ home = disipline problems @ school
fact: single parent homes = higher level of disipline problems @ home
fact: add in low income, it gets worse
fact: black & hispanic kids are the highest % of poor, single parent homes.

fact: bad behavior is not “racist”
fact: punishing bad behavior is not “racist”

bootney farnsworth

March 11th, 2012
8:32 am

what exactly is “counterintuitive” about this

Common Sense

March 11th, 2012
8:36 am

Common Sense today is Uncommon. This makes too much sense for it to be implemented. There are too many people who make their living by the race card and use statistics for their own agenda. Figures lie and liars figure is the quote that comes to mind.

Common Sense

March 11th, 2012
8:44 am

There are a lot of followers in school. When one child disrupts a class, all children are watching to see what happens. If nothing happens or the perception is that nothing happened, another will do as he or she wants. Soon you have several who are disrupting the learning and it will spiral out of control. When there are no consequences at home or in school, students refuse to do assignments, talk and some will blatantly challenge the teacher who is trying to teach those willing to learn. As pointed out, this means the children are running the show and time devoted to classroom management becomes the largest consumer of the instructional time.

I have students who blatantly refuse to do the assignment. I contact parents and they say they are concerned, but after several calls and conferences nothing changes. Some of these will sit quietly and not disturb others, but most begin talking and distracting others from their work.

This is the single most important issue facing the classroom teacher today and what has made their job harder every year.

Michelle-Middle School

March 11th, 2012
8:51 am

COMMON SENSE! FINALLY!

As a 20+ year teacher, I absolutely agree with this article. I am so tired of the insinuation that schools are “racist” because of their disciplinary system. I know emphatically that my school is not racist. The truth to the issue is that more Hispanic and black students misbehave. The only way this problem is going to be solved is by changing the society, a task this country is incapable of accomplishing because of our demand to be politically correct. If a student is disturbing other students who genuinely want to learn, they should go—–regardless of race or any other attribute.

Dekalb taxpayer

March 11th, 2012
8:59 am

I don’t know if Maureen is responsible for the headline, but I agree (as usual) with Beverly & Bootney that this thinking is counterintuitive only in a world where up has truly become down and vice versa.

Ron F.

March 11th, 2012
8:59 am

“fact: single parent homes = higher level of disipline problems @ home”

Careful bootney….I’m a single parent and my two so do NOT fit that descriptor. The issue isn’t the number or gender of parent at home as much as it is the age, education level, and economic status of that parent. I have numerous friends who, for various reasons, are single parents and their kids are at the top of the achievement scale, as are my own. This is exactly what worries me about data like this: it’s too easy to point at single parents and say they’re to blame. In my experience as a teacher, committed, determined parents come in many forms and numbers. I teach in a high poverty district and many of our most difficult children come from two parent homes.

While the data above isn’t surprising, it still doesn’t solve the problem of what we do with the kids. By choice I teach classes of “at-risk” kids, and there are a few every year who end up in the alternative school or dropping out. They’re smart, they’re talented in ways we don’t always see when we’re processing the paperwork, and we don’t have the resources to really help them. If we just kick them out into the world, the next stop is prison, so what do we do? I agree they need to be somewhere other than where they’re causing the disruption, but where is that?

I’ve spent a lot of years studying and trying to understand the troubled kids I see so many of each year. One thing that always helps me is to understand the impact of poverty on children. Their perception of school and their response to discipline is fundamentally different and it is a challenge for many of them to understand the codes of middle-class behavior required of them. My discipline numbers tend to refute the research because I deal with these kids differently. They behave, they learn, and I love every minute with them.

Jayne

March 11th, 2012
9:02 am

The notion that these conclusions are somehow “counterintuititve” is amazing. It says a great deal about Maureen and her perspective that these conclusions would not be “obvious”.

Homeschooler

March 11th, 2012
9:11 am

I have a question about “more Hispanic and black students misbehaving”. Is this true of mostly middle and high school children or younger children too? I am around a lot of children and always find the Hispanic children to be very well behaved. When I talk to most of them about school they light up and tell me all about their teachers and what they learn. They seem to absolutely love school. I know there are problems with hispanic gangs and in any of your lower socio-economic areas we are going to lose a lot of these kids by the time they are in high school. Just wondered, from a teacher’s perspective, if the hispanic kids are that much of a problem (even in elementary school)

Also, although I’m not a teacher, I have found that often children seem to misbehave in school because the discipline is not nearly as strict as at home. This seems to be more often with black children. (again I’m talking about mostly younger children). Some of these kids are so afraid to step out of line at home, they go crazy once they get to school. Wish I had a dime for every parent who tells me “I have no problems with him at home”. (and you can see the switch or the belt sitting in the corner of the room). This goes back to my belief that there is a difference between a child who is taught self control rather than taught to be controlled. Our schools will never be able (and should never be able) to discipline the way some of these parents do. How can you expect Johnny to be scared of standing in a corner when, at home he gets whacked every time he steps out of line? I see this with all races, but mostly black, lower class families.

Mama Gee

March 11th, 2012
9:24 am

SAWB

March 11th, 2012
9:27 am

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, J. L. Riley (a member of the paper’s editorial board), had
a brief write-up entitled “What About the Kids Who Behave?” in response
to this study. He claimed that white kids are disciplined at higher rates than Asian kids, and
asked the question–is the school system anti-white, too? I think his point is that
behavior is largely learned at home, and often reflects the cultural attitude towards
education and authority. We have many students–and parents–who have no respect for either.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

March 11th, 2012
9:30 am

I’m glad to hear a majority of agreement with this blog.

But, Ron’s gonna get me on my soap box! Sounds to me like you’re saying “Oh, the poor little ____ children.” Right now that blank is “poor”, but it might have been “black” recently or “Irish” some time before that. Quit pitying and expect something from them (us)! Thanks, Ms. Ingle, for doing that with me so long ago…

Maureen Downey

March 11th, 2012
9:30 am

@DeKalb, In this case, I used a headline that the author of the piece wrote.
Maureen

KIM

March 11th, 2012
9:31 am

@mom3boys–I think your idea of doing on line schooling for suspended students is excellent. Schools are increasing their on line course offerings and this is a logical positive byproduct. The argument against it will be that more problematic students will be home unsupervised, otherwise ensuring an adult were home with them would make a hardship on the parent. But it is an excellent solution.

I am gratefful, Maureen, for a researcher’s work that supports what so many of the educators who blog here feel: high expectations in the classroom should be equal for all students. Sometimes I think the educators have more confidence that all students can be attentive than some people believe. When a community activist (Gwinnett SToPP) thinks standards and consequences for minority students should be lower (although the organization does not word it that way) than for the majority they actually are saying minority students cannot rise to the standard. I do not agree that they can’t. I have taught too many who went on to outstanding universities and are successful in their careers. Did they come from perfect family background? No. But neither did many of my majority students. It is individual–and those who allow the loving, caring teachers to influence them more than their background become the winners. They change the generational poverty cycle and have the ability and impetus to sustain that change.

Maureen Downey

March 11th, 2012
9:37 am

@jayne, Says nothing about me. The writer of the piece provided the headline for the piece. We often use the headlines that the actual writers provide so we don’t misinterpret their points of view.
Maureen

Homeschooler

March 11th, 2012
9:38 am

@NW GA. Ron is one of the few is willing to work with and reach these kids rather than throwing them away. You can have high expectations of children without expecting that they all fit a perfect mold. I applaud him. He said he doesn’t think these kids should be disrupting the other students. Why not find people like him who might make a difference.

Ron F.

March 11th, 2012
9:42 am

@NW GA: “Quit pitying and expect something from them (us)! ”

If you came into my classroom, you’d see HIGH expectations, communicated calmly, consistently, and kids who rise to the expectations, most of the time. I don’t pity them, EVER! But I also don’t play the “follow my rules or else” card. I find that if you set up the probability of conflict, they’ll go there. They know I want them to succeed and why it’s important for them to try, and they know I want to understand their perspective. We have many very calm, very informative discussions about why we have the rules we have and I supportively reinforce their adherence. I don’t lump them into categories, subgroups, or numbers. I’ve learned a LOT about how they think and why they react the way they do just by getting to know them and their experiences and how they think. It becomes a point of entry to begin scaffolding interactions and experiences that help them understand WHY they need to behave differently in order to be treated better in the world. They’re kids- flaws, misconceptions, and bad life circumstances and all. For some reason it works for me, and I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. Just food for thought.

Ron F.

March 11th, 2012
9:53 am

@NW GA: if you read what I posted earlier, I’m in no way saying we have to tolerate or keep kids in the classroom who choose to disrupt. Their presence and behavior can be a very big problem. I’ve had kids like that and had to let them suffer consequences for their choices. There are, and always will be, some who just can’t be helped. I just don’t want to see data like this used as an excuse for giving up on them too soon. Call me a “bleeding-heart”- I know I am! :-) But I can point to, and often see about town, the kids I’ve taught over the years who are trying their best to be good people as adults who were textbook stats for such a study as Kinsler’s, and I can’t help but think where they would be if we had given up on them. I can also point to some who ended up in the prison system- and I can say we tried just as hard.

Hey Teacher

March 11th, 2012
11:50 am

Great article — discipline continues to be the most challenging aspect of my job. Part of the problem is that in this era of budget cuts, we have lost some wonderful alternative programs that used to serve our at-risk population. Summer school and night school were both all but eliminated in my district along with other boot-camp type programs. We need options — just like every kid isn’t fit for college, not every kid can sit in a desk for 7 hours all day long either.

d

March 11th, 2012
12:00 pm

I’ve had more than one parent (sadly) ask me “are my kids behaving?” My response is always the same, “Do you give them a choice?” Every last one of them look at me as if I’ve just asked them to solve a calculus problem. I really do believe that today’s parents are lost. There’s so much “help” and “advice” being doled out about parenting that they’re all utterly lost. If you try to use old fashioned discipline then one group tells them they’re out of touch and being too harsh. If they try to reason with their children another group says they’re too soft and creating wimps. Parents have no one left to turn to anymore because everybody’s an expert, but they’re all saying something different. Even teachers can’t agree. I say return to the values that my grandparents and parents held as sacrosanct, but then new age groups come out against it. It’s no wonder that kids are all screwed up.

Maureen Downey

March 11th, 2012
12:12 pm

@d, Great comment and great question for inquiring parents. Would love for you to expand it into an op-ed piece for the AJC.
If interested, please email me at mdowney@ajc.com
Thanks, Maureen

Tony

March 11th, 2012
1:29 pm

The data on school discipline will be used to generate a knee jerk reaction just as all other data are used. Vigder and Kinsler are both on the mark for the negative impact such knee-jerk rules from on high will have on our schools. The philosophy behind highlighting “disproportionality” almost always overlooks the true causes of the effect being examined. In this case, certain groups are punished more than other groups and therefore the punishment must be out of line. I hope policy makers are very careful and consider opinions like those presented today.

ssteacher

March 11th, 2012
1:31 pm

Probably above the reading level of most commenters here, but Vigdor, et. al. just continue the belief that children are not of equal value when compared to adults.

Thought provoking work by Young-Bruehl in a newly published, highly researched book – Childism: confronting prejudice against children. http://www.amazon.com/Childism-Confronting-Prejudice-Against-Children/dp/0300173113

Full disclosure: I have nothing to do with this work, and receive nothing for making others aware of its existence.

Shar

March 11th, 2012
1:35 pm

@mom3boys – Brilliant!

At-home suspension not only punishes the offender, the parent must deal with the consequences of bad behavior (and see it first-hand) as well. This puts the onus on changing behavior where it belongs -with the parent.

Students could be required to complete certain work online before being allowed back in the classroom, and parents would be forced into the position of monitoring work – and dealing with resistance.

Shar

March 11th, 2012
1:41 pm

@d – All three of my children, and most particularly my meteoric middle child, informed me that I was irrational, too strict and ruining their lives and, of course, that Every One Else had parents that let them do whatever the thing was that I was prohibiting. My response, too, was always the same: Thanks for the information, but what does that have to do with you?

With my kids all in their early 20’s, I am now being informed that I was far too lenient. It’s very interesting to see the attitudinal change once kids are forced to create structure for their own lives instead of having some outside authority to fight against and blame.

Ron F.

March 11th, 2012
1:55 pm

Shar- therein lies the problem. I’ve watched far too many parents give in the “every one else” pressure. I’ve also noticed that after mine stomp off and slam a door and I don’t dignify their childish response, they get over it. I’ve also noticed in my classroom that if you ask kids, their suggestions about rules and consequences tend to be much tougher than many teachers would come up with. Isn’t it fun to be at the point where your kids are finally realizing you aren’t crazy and that you just might be right sometimes? I’m living for that day…

Long time educator

March 11th, 2012
2:04 pm

Yes, yes, yes!! This is a great article!
If you read this blog over time, you would see that the recurring theme from the veteran educators about the problems in education center around parental values, not income and not race. Poor non-English speaking immigrants who teach their children discipline and value education have children who succeed in the public school system. Regardless of race or economic status, parents who do not value education and do not expect their children to respect or obey authority figures, will have children who are unsuccessful in public school. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Just cut and past this into any topic about student discipline or academic achievement. It applies to them all. The better question is: if this premise is true, what can you do about it that would make a difference to the kids unfortunately born into these “homes”? Alternative school is a possible solution. Online at home suspension, while satisfying to the teacher, will not work because the parent is the problem to begin with. If we as society are willing to take on the responsibility of educating the children of unfit parents, we must find a way to do it without the parent’s help. If we are not willing, and this is a big IF, we need to stop compulsory attendance and make going to school a priviledge. There are arguments for both points of view, but we need to quit expecting unfit parents to step up to the plate if they have not already done so, and address the problem headon.

Brandy

March 11th, 2012
3:36 pm

In response to several commentators who suggested online work for suspended students

A friend told me about something that happened this week at her school. She works in a high SES population, East Cobb, middle school known for its high achievement levels and parental involvement. Another teacher suggested to her class that students needed to visit X website to complete an assignment over the weekend. A very embarrassed looking, white, student had to raise her hand and admit that she “no longer had internet at home”. The teacher responded that she could use the school library computers on Monday if she came early. The child then had to explain that her mother had to take a second job and could no longer drive her to and from school, she had to take the bus which would not bring her to school in time to complete the assignment. The teacher was at a loss as to a proper response, but another student replied that he had the same problem and had to go to the library on Saturdays and use their computers, but that the girl should plan to spend a long time waiting for a computer.

Ok, no soapbox here, but please remember that not all students have internet and computers at home, even on the “right side of the tracks”.

Andy Wilburn

March 11th, 2012
4:48 pm

Education is the only profession where if you don’t do your job you get to keep your job…..we need a whole new crop of HONEST, HARD WARKING, TEACHERS