News / USA

American Schools Shift From Suspending Students

US Schools Shifting Away From Suspending Students For Bad Behaviori
X
February 26, 2014
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid