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Do Now #39: To Suspend or Expel…Or Not, That’s the Question?

| September 21, 2012 | 36 Comments
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Tomas Ovalle Photography


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


Do Now

Are students suspended regularly at your school? Do you think they deserved it? Are there more effective alternatives? Explain using examples from your school.


Introduction

While suspension and expulsion may sometimes be necessary to maintain order and protect student and campus safety, did you ever think that some punishments don’t fit the crime?

That is what UCLA researchers found in a study where California public schools issued over 700,000 suspensions last year alone. Many of the cases were of minor offenses like talking back to the teacher or class disruptions. And an overwhelming majority of the students who were suspended were either black or Latino.

There are 34 different “crimes” (called infractions) in California that warrant expulsion or suspension for students. They range from smoking, fighting, drug use, vulgarity, obscenity, defiance, possession of weapons and the list goes on. Some of these are relatively minor offenses and some are more serious. Schools have a variety of policies in place to determine these infractions. Some are clearer than others.

A similar controversy developed earlier in the year when an investigation released from the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. that found Kern County’s schools, located in oil and farming country in the Central Valley, had four times the state average for expulsions. The number of students expelled in Kern exceeded the number expelled in Los Angeles County, which has about nine times as many students. Parents in Kern complained, especially since many of the offenses were not serious violations like possession of a firearm, but expulsions for disruption or vulgarity. To add to the controversy, federal statistics show that in Bakersfield (Kern County), black students at Bakersfield High School represented 25 per cent of suspensions and 29 percent of expulsions. Nearly a quarter of black males at the school were expelled. And East Bakersfield High also showed disproportionate discipline for black students.

These statistics worry educators and civil rights activists. To quote U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan: “The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.”

Resource

California Report segment School Suspensions Highlight Different Discipline Standards
UCLA researchers shocked the education community last spring when they found California public schools issued over 700,000 suspensions last year, mostly to black and Latino students. The study touched off a statewide effort to find out how schools apply discipline.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with@KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to tweet their personal opinions as well as support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

The California Report segment Kern County: Expulsion Capital of California – Mar. 21, 2012
In the last school year, Kern County schools were four times more likely to expel a student than any other county in California. The raw number of students expelled in Kern was bigger than the number expelled in Los Angeles, which has a student body nine times the size. Expulsions and suspensions are particularly high among students of color.

California Watch post Minority Expulsions High in Kern County, New Data Confirms – Mar. 15, 2012
As he waited for his first disciplinary appeal hearing to begin this fall, the sixth-grade student began sobbing. He was barely 11 years old. He had been expelled again — for the rest of the school year — from his Bakersfield elementary school district, this time for alleged sexual battery and obscenity.

The Center for Public Integrity post An Epidemic of Expulsions – Dec. 11, 2011
California’s Kern County at leading edge of national debate over costs and benefits of harsh school discipline


http://storify.com/kqeddonow/do-now-39-student-suspensions

 

 

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About the Author ()

Maxine Einhorn is from London and has lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. She has worked in adult education in London,UK, for over twenty years as a tenured instructor and department manager. She has an MA in Film and TV from University of London and has taught, moderated and appraised academic work in film studies and media literacy at undergraduate and college level. She runs the ESL/ Post Secondary project at KQED which offers media-rich resources for and created by ESL educators.
  • izzie

    No, kids don’t get suspended that often here, but the students that do get suspended,deserve it.

  • izzie

    No, kids don’t get suspended that often here, but the students that do get suspended,deserve it.

  • Ingrid

    I believe that suspensions should be given out when deserved. However if they are given out too frequently they will no longer be a punishment but a three day vacation from school. Instead of giving out suspensions for minor stuff find alternatives to suspensions.

  • Ingrid

    I believe that suspensions should be given out when deserved. However if they are given out too frequently they will no longer be a punishment but a three day vacation from school. Instead of giving out suspensions for minor stuff find alternatives to suspensions.

  • Rebecca Middleton

    I believe that suspension is not a good idea because some kids dont care about their school record, and not being allowed to come to school isnt really a big deal in their eyes. I feel that a better way of handling this is to take away privleges.

  • Rebecca Middleton

    I believe that suspension is not a good idea because some kids dont care about their school record, and not being allowed to come to school isnt really a big deal in their eyes. I feel that a better way of handling this is to take away privleges.

  • Leah Michael

    Students are not regularly suspended at my school. If they were then it would be for a good reason. Some more effective alternatives are giving your students more chances so when they commit the first offense they are not immediately suspended.

  • Leah Michael

    Students are not regularly suspended at my school. If they were then it would be for a good reason. Some more effective alternatives are giving your students more chances so when they commit the first offense they are not immediately suspended.

  • Jae Young Park

    There aren’t a large amount of people suspended at school, however there still are some. Whether they deserved it or not is debatable and depends on the actual situation, but I don’t believe suspension is an effective method. Rather than simply sending the student home for three days, I feel that detention would be a more effective form of discipline, as keeping a student longer at school than out seems more punitive.

  • Jae Young Park

    There aren’t a large amount of people suspended at school, however there still are some. Whether they deserved it or not is debatable and depends on the actual situation, but I don’t believe suspension is an effective method. Rather than simply sending the student home for three days, I feel that detention would be a more effective form of discipline, as keeping a student longer at school than out seems more punitive.

  • Michael M

    I agree with this video. Schools go right to the final resort of suspension or expeled because they dont want to deal with these students. Start out with lose of privilages or restrictions. Give them a contract that says if you break this rule you get this punishment. Do not go straight to suspension it doesnt teach the kid a lesson.

  • Michael M

    I agree with this video. Schools go right to the final resort of suspension or expeled because they dont want to deal with these students. Start out with lose of privilages or restrictions. Give them a contract that says if you break this rule you get this punishment. Do not go straight to suspension it doesnt teach the kid a lesson.

  • Alice

    At my school, students don’t get suspended regularly, mainly because not that many kids do bad things. But there has been events where kids would get suspended just for having their phones out. I think it mainly depends on how strict the administration is or where you are from. The school that I go too, doesn’t have that many problems so kid tend to get suspended or expelled for minor things. I think that expulsion shouldn’t even be an option for schools. If anything it should be suspension. Kids have to go to school and learn and by expelling someone you are taking away that right. It is the law that minors go to school.

  • Alice

    At my school, students don’t get suspended regularly, mainly because not that many kids do bad things. But there has been events where kids would get suspended just for having their phones out. I think it mainly depends on how strict the administration is or where you are from. The school that I go too, doesn’t have that many problems so kid tend to get suspended or expelled for minor things. I think that expulsion shouldn’t even be an option for schools. If anything it should be suspension. Kids have to go to school and learn and by expelling someone you are taking away that right. It is the law that minors go to school.

  • Peter

    The most common suspension at my school are useing your cell phone and dress code violations. Many those don’t seem to be reasonable causes to suspend people. If a kid talks back to his teacher at school it should be the schools job to see if there home life is effecting their learning. There are many diffrent alternitaves than suspension.

  • Peter

    The most common suspension at my school are useing your cell phone and dress code violations. Many those don’t seem to be reasonable causes to suspend people. If a kid talks back to his teacher at school it should be the schools job to see if there home life is effecting their learning. There are many diffrent alternitaves than suspension.

  • Thor

    I do not think that students are suspended that often at our high school, and when students are, they deserve the suspension. As for whether or not suspension is effective, I think it is. If a student misbehaves and gets suspended (and, in the process, accumluates days of school work,) the punishment of having to catch up on schoolwork or go to summer school because of missed schoolwork is a good incentive to not misbehave.

  • Thor

    I do not think that students are suspended that often at our high school, and when students are, they deserve the suspension. As for whether or not suspension is effective, I think it is. If a student misbehaves and gets suspended (and, in the process, accumluates days of school work,) the punishment of having to catch up on schoolwork or go to summer school because of missed schoolwork is a good incentive to not misbehave.

  • http://kittyball.in Robert Bagot

    Students who are suspended regularly are for the most part suspended because they either don’t care about school or have no incentive to be at school. I think that the problem doesn’t lie with the amount of options that students who have been suspended are given, but rather with the way education is presented. Students who come from underprivileged families and bad neighborhoods don’t see school as something they and would prefer to quite honestly be somewhere else they feel will be important to them later in life. I think schools need to present education in a more appealing way and that could reduce suspension rates in the first place. That’s not to say I agree with suspensions are handled most of the time, but I still feel suspensions themselves are not the main problem

  • http://kittyball.in Robert Bagot

    Students who are suspended regularly are for the most part suspended because they either don’t care about school or have no incentive to be at school. I think that the problem doesn’t lie with the amount of options that students who have been suspended are given, but rather with the way education is presented. Students who come from underprivileged families and bad neighborhoods don’t see school as something they and would prefer to quite honestly be somewhere else they feel will be important to them later in life. I think schools need to present education in a more appealing way and that could reduce suspension rates in the first place. That’s not to say I agree with suspensions are handled most of the time, but I still feel suspensions themselves are not the main problem

  • Ross Hornsby

    I dont belive students at Redwood suspended regularly unless it is the same group of people continue to ignore the warnings of the teachers and rules of the campus. I do belive that they do deserve it because it is thier own fault for not abidding to the rules. If there are other alternatives then why havent they been introduced into the system. I know many students at Redwood continue to bring thier cell phones out in class and thier cell phones are taken away. Some belive teachers should do this, I belive that teachers aren’t doing enough of this.

  • Ross Hornsby

    I dont belive students at Redwood suspended regularly unless it is the same group of people continue to ignore the warnings of the teachers and rules of the campus. I do belive that they do deserve it because it is thier own fault for not abidding to the rules. If there are other alternatives then why havent they been introduced into the system. I know many students at Redwood continue to bring thier cell phones out in class and thier cell phones are taken away. Some belive teachers should do this, I belive that teachers aren’t doing enough of this.

  • Angel Alvarado-Dadin

    Kids do get suspended regulalry but in bad communities such as Oakland. Kids who do get suspended deserve it because they have to learn from there mistakes.

  • Angel Alvarado-Dadin

    Kids do get suspended regulalry but in bad communities such as Oakland. Kids who do get suspended deserve it because they have to learn from there mistakes.

  • cameron langenfeld

    i think that at our school students are suspended often enough and for some of the time they don’t really deserve it but most of the time they do. a more effective alternate is needed. something that limits the students to instead of being suspended maybe just limited to going to class only and then if they don’t then suspension. kids at our school get suspended for drugs, drinking, and (rebellious) attitude. but most of the time its “rebellious attitude” that gets them suspended. rebellious attitude is just repeated offenses of any kind. like getting your cell phone taken away more then two times. i think thats unfair and should be extended or changed to individual punishments.

  • cameron langenfeld

    i think that at our school students are suspended often enough and for some of the time they don’t really deserve it but most of the time they do. a more effective alternate is needed. something that limits the students to instead of being suspended maybe just limited to going to class only and then if they don’t then suspension. kids at our school get suspended for drugs, drinking, and (rebellious) attitude. but most of the time its “rebellious attitude” that gets them suspended. rebellious attitude is just repeated offenses of any kind. like getting your cell phone taken away more then two times. i think thats unfair and should be extended or changed to individual punishments.

  • Roman Bumbesti

    The most common supension of students is that of defiance. This is usually caused by cell phones and kids continuing to not follow directions. Really this is not the way to handle this situation. This s way to far just becasue of a phone. These reactions are way out of line.

  • Roman Bumbesti

    The most common supension of students is that of defiance. This is usually caused by cell phones and kids continuing to not follow directions. Really this is not the way to handle this situation. This s way to far just becasue of a phone. These reactions are way out of line.

  • jefferson valladares

    I think that if it is a major crime that the student has done such as bullying, fighting or doing/selling drugs, than the student deserves to be suspended. However if it is a minor crime such as using your cellphone in class or being disruptive in class, than there should be an alternative such as community service

  • jefferson valladares

    I think that if it is a major crime that the student has done such as bullying, fighting or doing/selling drugs, than the student deserves to be suspended. However if it is a minor crime such as using your cellphone in class or being disruptive in class, than there should be an alternative such as community service

  • Lizzie P

    I dont think that students are regularly suspended at this school because we have multiple chances to improve behavior before such drastic measures are taken. When people do get suspended, i think that its fair and they do deserve it, especially after being given so many chances to get out of a situation. I think that this method is quite fair and nothing should be changed.

  • Lizzie P

    I dont think that students are regularly suspended at this school because we have multiple chances to improve behavior before such drastic measures are taken. When people do get suspended, i think that its fair and they do deserve it, especially after being given so many chances to get out of a situation. I think that this method is quite fair and nothing should be changed.

  • anna sullivan

    i think that this is a bunch of crud. everybody is alway hyperaware if they are being racist against black or latino or gay or any minority. the people who are getting suspended or expelled probably deserve it. i mean if they white person did the same thing they should have the same concequence as the minority. my school seems to be a pretty racial equal school.

  • anna sullivan

    i think that this is a bunch of crud. everybody is alway hyperaware if they are being racist against black or latino or gay or any minority. the people who are getting suspended or expelled probably deserve it. i mean if they white person did the same thing they should have the same concequence as the minority. my school seems to be a pretty racial equal school.

  • Talesa

    #kqededspace I have personally myself gone through a suspension for 1 whol semester, and honestly it helped me focus more and complete my work rather than being in a class room with so many distraction. It should depends on how serious the sitatuion it, but some kids need there teachers around to help them when there work and to ask questions to. How are they going to do that when there home? and most likey the average teenager will not do there work unless reminded by the teacher or his or her parent.Suspencion can also fail a child and thats not a good look for college. I think students should sit in a isolation room for the whole day until there time is up and just have to do work and if needed get help form there teacher. #kqededspace #MsSully3

  • Talesa

    #kqededspace I have personally myself gone through a suspension for 1 whol semester, and honestly it helped me focus more and complete my work rather than being in a class room with so many distraction. It should depends on how serious the sitatuion it, but some kids need there teachers around to help them when there work and to ask questions to. How are they going to do that when there home? and most likey the average teenager will not do there work unless reminded by the teacher or his or her parent.Suspencion can also fail a child and thats not a good look for college. I think students should sit in a isolation room for the whole day until there time is up and just have to do work and if needed get help form there teacher. #kqededspace #MsSully3