Suspending Kids Doesn’t Fix Bad Behavior; Schools Look For Answers

The Seattle Times

To varying degrees, and for varying reasons, many Washington school districts are engaged in similar efforts because, to put it plainly, suspending kids doesn’t work.

A growing mountain of national data suggests that punitive discipline that removes kids from school leads to lower graduation rates. No surprise. Students who mouth off to teachers, or fight, or cut class are typically the least engaged in classwork. Sending them home without any sort of tutoring or oversight guarantees that they will be further behind upon return, which means discipline aimed at punishment actually appears to push kids toward failure, even for minor offenses.

“It’s just common sense — if kids aren’t in school, they’re not learning and we’re putting them at greater risk,” said Chris Loftis, a spokesman for Kent schools.

A Texas study found that 31 percent of suspended students repeat a grade; 10 percent ultimately drop out.

Last year, the children’s advocacy group Washington Appleseed said in a report that every seat in Safeco Field could be filled with Washington students suspended or expelled from public schools during 2009-10. The vast majority were not disciplined for anything directly imperiling safety, like carrying a weapon, but minor offenses, such as refusing to remove a hat...


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