News / USA

American Schools Shift From Suspending Students

US Schools Shifting Away From Suspending Students For Bad Behaviori
X
February 26, 2014 6:23 PM
There is a growing trend in U.S. schools to re-think the way students are disciplined for bad behavior, including finding alternatives to punishments such as out-of-school suspensions. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest school districts in the country, about how changes in discipline policies are affecting students.
US Schools Shifting Away From Suspending Students For Bad Behavior
Elizabeth Lee
There is a growing trend in U.S. schools to re-think the way students are disciplined for bad behavior, including finding alternatives to punishments such as out-of-school suspensions.  In Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest school districts in the country, changes in discipline policies are already affecting students.

In a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood known for its poverty and gangs, growing up can be tough.  That’s especially true for Garfield High School student Marco Antonio Aguilar. 

“My freshman year, everything went bad. I hated the school,” he said.

Aguilar says he had the wrong friends, often skipped school and even got into fights. The school suspended him and he almost had to go to a school for problem students.  But a talk with his mom woke him up.

“She was always there for me. She cooked for me. So for me to waste my time at school, that wasn’t fair for her, and being a single mom that’s even more sad for her for me to be messing around like that. What also sparked the fire more was with the help of the teachers I received, and knowing that they did care about me, the school did really help me,” Aguilar recalls.

Looking for alternatives

Garfield High School Principal Jose Huerta does not believe in suspensions.

“You don’t have to suspend kid. It doesn’t get you anywhere.  It’s not even expensive, it’s very simple, connect with students,” he said.

When he first arrived at Garfield High more than four years ago, the dropout rate was more than 50 percent, with close to 700 suspensions a year.  He says most of the suspensions were for minor behavioral problems known as “willful defiance.”

“It could be from chewing gum in class to sticking gum under the things,” he said.

Huerta, a new principal at the time, changed the discipline policy.  Instead of facing suspension, those with willful defiance issues will first talk to a teacher, then a parent may get involved and eventually, a support group if needed.

Garfield High now has an 85 percent graduation rate, and the school has changed. 

"The reason we don't see vandalism or anything is because now there's a connection with our students.  They respect us dearly and we respect them, and I tell them I love them. Every time we have an assembly: 'remember guys I love you and we love you" and they all respond with an applause because they don't always get that," he said.  

Punishments for behavioral problems used to be decided by each school in this urban district. But last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District banned out-of-school suspension as a form of punishment for students with willful defiance issues. 

Superintendent John Deasy says he started working on finding solutions to the problematic discipline policy when he first came to Los Angeles Unified in 2011.

“Far too many suspensions, and far far too many suspensions for black and brown youth,” he said.

More suspensions in poor neighborhoods

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education recently called on schools to find alternatives to suspensions for non-violent behavior.

Dan Losen of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA says while 60 percent of secondary schools in the U.S. do not have high suspension rates, those that do often are in poor black or Latino neighborhoods.

“The schools that suspend high number of kids, they don’t have better achievement.  They don’t have better graduation rates,” he said.

United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher says that while suspending a student should never be a first option, taking the option away completely is not the solution either.

“If you take it off the table; if you make it so that a school essentially doesn’t have that option at all in an environment of ballooning class sizes and deep, deep cuts to student mental health, it creates a pressure cooker environment in a school, and that’s not good for anyone,” said Fletcher.

While the number of suspensions nationwide seems to be slowly decreasing, many educators say a more permanent solution is to pair changes in discipline with more funding to provide support for the students - so they can succeed like Aguilar, who plans on going to college when he graduates this year.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James A Cobbs Jr. from: Cleveland Ohio
February 26, 2014 7:51 PM
If we stay out the way of other people life and the way they live it and learn to feed other people then kill them and blow up the land. We need to let the people be free in there own land. What is it that the high power of are worlds didn't give us. Where is the Love Peace and Happiness of this worlds Everything in this world was give free to us from the Power Of Jesus. Man or Woman don't own this world they are just here to serve there time. The more we kill the angel that work for the high power of Peace Love and Happiness the bigger the hole to hell gets The stairways to heaven is back up and there is only one gate in to live with the star of heaven. Think what the world would be like if every person had what they wanted to live in a world of peace. No person in Jesus worlds should go with out a place to live and food to eat.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid