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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid