Are School Discipline Policies Too Severe?
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Do you think that schools, teachers and administrators should change the way they discipline because of the new report on zero tolerance and new suggested guidelines? How might they punish differently? Is this a good or a bad thing?
The Obama administration is urging schools to review their school discipline policies to ensure they are not overly zealous and comply with civil rights law. The policies in question are often called zero tolerance rules, which hand out swift and strong punishment to those who break rules in school, and sometimes result in court action. After Texas passed its zero tolerance policy for school disciplinary issues in 1995, many students began receiving criminal citations for missing class, fighting, cursing and even throwing paper airplanes.
High school student Diane Tran from Houston spent a day in jail in 2012 for contempt of court after being warned by a justice of the peace to stop skipping school.
“Well, the judge had warned me about missing too many days of school. But I just couldn’t help it,” said Tran.
When it came to light that Tran was a straight-A student who holds down two jobs in order to help support her younger sister and another sibling in college, the judge removed the citation from her record. However, many like her remain in the system.
The case sparked a new debate about the merits of criminalizing student behavior. Criminal charges can have lasting effects on students. Colleges and employers typically require students to report any criminal citations, and students who are referred to court just once are more likely to drop out of high school. However, many in the criminal justice stand by the policy. They say that the number of citations given to students are down in recent years, and that the cases that do make it to court are typically more serious than skipping school.
PBS NewsHour video Are some U.S. school discipline policies too punitive?
The Education and Justice Departments released new guidelines on school discipline, urging schools to ensure that punishments comply with civil rights laws. Hari Sreenivasan gets debate on the recommendations from Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
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 #DoNowDiscipline
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to 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.
U.S. Department of Education website School Climate and Discipline
The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), released on January 8th a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing solutions to enhance school climate, and improve school discipline policies and practices. While incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. The guidance package provides resources for creating such climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps. The package also includes a video entitled U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package
WBUR radio segment Obama Admin Discourages ‘Zero-Tolerance’ School Discipline
“Historic” is the word civil rights organization Advancement Project is using to describe the Obama administration’s new guidelines, announced yesterday, to dial back so-called zero-tolerance policies.
New York Times post Admin Urges Restraint in Using Arrest or Expulsion to Discipline
The Obama administration issued guidelines on Wednesday that recommended public school officials use law enforcement only as a last resort for disciplining students, a response to a rise in zero-tolerance policies that have disproportionately increased the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of minority students for even minor, nonviolent offenses.
NPR All Things Considered segment Calif. Schools Try Out A Gentler Form Of Discipline
This segment produced by Youth Radio reports that getting expelled may sound extreme for a kid as young as twelve years of age. But the most recent show almost half of total expulsions statewide cited vague offenses, including “willfully defying the authority of school personnel” and “disruption of school activities.”
Category: Do Now: Government and Civics