By Michael Meehan
Getting “smart on crime” means we cannot focus solely on arrests and continue to look for upstream solutions. After 29 years in law enforcement, I’m concerned with the cycles of violence and poverty that threaten the future of our children.
We can do a better job preventing crimes before they occur and keeping kids in school and off the street is a good place to start. A high school diploma goes a long way towards steering kids down a crime-free path. But each year well over 200,000 California students are suspended from school, many for relatively minor misbehavior, and close to 100,000 California students fail to graduate from high school on time.
There are proven interventions we can use to address California’s dropout crisis. But we stand the best chance of success if we shine a light on the most significant contributors to dropping out, and incentivize schools to help high-need students before it’s too late, through a quality accountability system.
Source: California must continue push for school discipline reform | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced a 13.9 percent decline in the number of students expelled during the 2014-15 academic year and a 12.8 percent decrease in the number of students suspended compared to the year before. This marks the third year in a row of significant declines in both areas.
Since 2011-12, when the California Department of Education (CDE) began collecting and reporting detailed data, suspensions have declined by 33.6 percent and expulsions have dropped 40.4 percent.
The latest figures reflect innovative efforts by the CDE and school districts to provide a variety of alternative programs and options to schools, teachers, and students that reduce suspensions and expulsions and keep more children in school.
via Decline in Suspensions and Expulsions – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education).
By Jane Meredith Adams
If you’ve got some time on your hands and a yearning for school district data, check out a new tool announced Monday by the California Department of Education that tracks how well districts and schools have done from 2012 to 2014 in three state priority areas: student achievement, student engagement and school climate.
While many educators broadly define achievement, engagement and school climate, the terms in the “State Priorities Snapshot” tool refer to selected data measurements used by districts.
Achievement is measured by five factors: progress for English learners; the number of students who complete the “a-g” course requirements for entrance to the University of California or the California State University; the number of students who score at least a 3 (out of a maximum of 5) on an Advanced Placement test; scores on college readiness assessments; and the number of students who have completed at least one career technical education pathway course.
via New snapshots of school district achievement, drop-outs and discipline | EdSource.
By Times Herald Staff
A Vallejo City Unified School District delegation, led by superintendent Ramona Bishop, participated in a gathering of educators on Wednesday at the White House.
Bishop, Sheila Gradwohl, president of Vallejo Education Association — the union representing Vallejo teachers — and Ralph Barnette, California School Employees Association — the union representing classified district employees — gathered for the “Rethink Discipline” day-long conference.
According to the White House, the event was a national convening and conversation held on improving school discipline policies and practices. At the meeting, participants discussed new tools and resources to be released by the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, an interagency initiative launched by the administration in 2011, along with data and research that underscores the need for further action, White House officials added.
via Vallejo school delegation participates in White House conference.
By Susan Frey
Lawmakers have set aside $10 million in one-time funds to be used during the next three years to train teachers and administrators across the state on how to use more positive approaches to disciplining students.
The funding, which was part of a trailer bill to implement the budget, is for training educators to develop a Multi-Tiered System of Supports — from creating a positive school climate for all students to providing individualized counseling to troubled students. The funding is a response to recommendations from the Statewide Special Education Task Force report, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance. The task force found that students in special education are disproportionately suspended and expelled, and recommended the multi-tiered approach to school discipline.
via Budget allocates $10 million for training in positive discipline | EdSource.
By Paul Meyers
There are often expectations for a new superintendent to make an immediate impact in his or her district. That was the case when I became superintendent at Standard School District in Bakersfield in November 2013, just as the new Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) was unfolding.
Being new to the district and the area, the needs assessment required by the LCAP served me well as an educational leader. It didn’t take long to identify the areas of need or to come to agreement on how to address them.
One area of need in our K-8 district with nearly 3,000 students was to reduce the number of suspensions. In 2013, the number of student suspensions at our middle school was extremely high – over three times the state suspension rate. Budget cuts over several years had reduced the middle school administrative team and, with over 900 students in 6th to 8th grades, it was clear that the team was operating in survival mode. We needed to provide more support for students and staff and find a program that offered a long-term solution to address student misbehavior as well as guide future behavior.
via Restorative practices quickly cut suspensions in middle school | EdSource#.VQMKX2ctHGg#.VQMKX2ctHGg.
By Evie Blad
As pressure increases for schools who miss accountability benchmarks, students become less likely to be late or miss class—but more likely to get into fights and get reported or suspended for misbehavior.
Thats the conclusion of a new study by Duke University researchers John B. Holbein and Helen F. “Sunny” Ladd, for the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, or CALDER. It suggests that just as there may be a tendency to focus academically on tested subjects, like math and reading, schools may also focus on improving student behaviors measured for accountability purposes.
via Fewer Absences, More Misbehavior in Schools That Miss Academic Benchmarks – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
By Carl Cohn
In my 12-plus years as an urban superintendent in California, parents often spent more time talking to me about school safety than about teaching and learning. Perhaps that’s just common-sense recognition that the latter can’t take place without the former.
School suspensions and expulsions are falling at dramatic rates in California – a 20 percent decline in expulsions and a 15 percent decrease in suspensions in the last school year. What should parents and taxpayers make of this seemingly good news that suggests there has been an outbreak of good decorum among students in our state’s public schools? Has someone provided a new vaccine that has inoculated our children against bad behavior?
Without suggesting some mysterious new version of the science fiction classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” let me offer a plausible explanation for what might be going on.
via Expulsions and suspensions decline as schools shift strategies | EdSource#.VOTX_mctHGg#.VOTX_mctHGg.
By Susan Frey
Educators who want to implement more positive disciplinary practices can now access an online national repository of research-based alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
The National Clearinghouse on Supportive School Discipline (NCSSD) site is divided into four topic areas that provide strategies and tools:
- Conditions for Learning
- The Pipeline to Prison
- Positive Approaches to School Discipline
- Discipline Disparities
California has been in the forefront in the move toward more positive disciplinary approaches. Both Los Angeles Unified and San Francisco Unified, for example, have eliminated “willful defiance” as a reason to suspend or expel students. A new law, authored by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, makes it illegal for school districts to expel any student or suspend any K-3 student for willful defiance. However, teachers can still send a student to the principal’s office for defiance.
via Online resource offers help with discipline | EdSource.
By Susan Winlow
Dozens of questions and concerns about school discipline and expulsions raised at an Aug. 28 board meeting by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees will be answered Thursday by the director of student services during the regularly scheduled board meeting.
The previous presentation by Angie Avlonitis was part of a monthly report on the implementation status of the District Local Educational Agency Plan and compared expulsion rates in 2008-09 school year with a dramatic decrease in 2013-14. The report also showed that despite the lower expulsion rates overall, there was a percentage increase in expulsions among blacks and Hispanics, and a decrease among white non-Hispanic students.
via District continues discussion on disciplinary measures Daily Republic.
By Susan Winlow
The governing board of the Fairfield-Suisun School District will hear an update Thursday on the Local Educational Agency plan with a focus on school discipline.
The report prepared by Angie Avlonitis, director of student accountability and support, focuses on areas such as the legalities of suspensions and expulsions, legal updates and hearing notices along with site-level interventions and referral procedures and implementing such things as alternatives to suspensions, anti-bullying programs, character programs and positive incentive programs.
A report indicates that while the total number of expulsions has decreased dramatically in 2013-14 compared with 2008-09, there has been a percentage increase in expulsions among blacks and Hispanics, and a decrease among white non-Hispanic students.
via Fairfield-Suisun board to hear student discipline plan update Daily Republic.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The Vallejo school board discussed Wednesday an agreement to resolve an investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights in relation to the districts disciplining of African American students.
Much of the agreement instructs the Vallejo City Unified School District to continue with programs and alternative discipline initiatives established during Superintendent Ramona Bishops tenure, said Phillip Shelley, the districts director of school management and support.
“In a sense, the Office of Civil Rights is saying to Vallejo to continue the work youre doing,” he said.
via Vallejo district disciplinary policies subject of federal pact – Vallejo Times Herald.
By guest blogger Gina Cairney
Tracy Martin, the father of the African-American teenager who was shot and killed last year in an incident that renewed national debates over race relations, urged members of Congress to improve the educational opportunities of black boys.
Nationwide, statistics show that African-American boys tend to have poorer educational outcomes than their white peers. An Education Week report found such students are disproportionately affected by school discipline policies, effectively funneling them into “school-to-prison pipelines.”
via Congress Urged to Expand Opportunities for African-American Boys – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
From guest blogger Alyssa Morones
Between now and July 13, the Advancement Project is hosting a convening to begin a dialogue focused around punitive discipline in schools and high-stakes testing, which it says contribute to the national school-to-prison pipeline.
The conference, called “We Can Do Better: Collaborating to Reform School Discipline and Accountability,” will look at the ways in which punitive discipline and high-stakes testing conspire to “push” students out of school, especially those from minority backgrounds or different sexual orientations. More than 300 school administrators, educators, law enforcement, community activists, and students are already registered to discuss the root causes and possible solutions to this national problem.
via School Accountability and Discipline Reformers Find Common Cause – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
By Jane Meredith Adams
California schools urgently need strategies for discipline that help children learn from mistakes, make reparations for harm and go on to succeed, a group of educators said last week in support of a bill that would dramatically change school discipline practices by banning the use of “willful defiance” in meting out expulsion and restricting its use in mandating suspension.
Student discipline must move beyond ‘willful defiance,’ educators say | EdSource Today.
By Lanz Christian Bañes Times-Herald staff writer
About 200 people picked apart Wednesday a recent Solano County Grand Jury report highly critical of safety issues at Vallejo High School.
Opinions varied, with some supporting the report’s 15 findings and recommendations while others criticized the jury’s methodology during a special school board meeting at Vallejo High’s auditorium.
Willie Mims, a retired teacher from Peoples High School, questioned how well the grand jury understands Vallejo High’s challenges because the 19-member grand jury is largely white.
via Vallejo High, community discuss critical safety report.
The goal of the Summit, held on May 17 at Solano Community College in Vallejo, was to raise awareness of crossover youth – those who have experienced trauma, who are involved in the child welfare system, and who are currently engaged in the juvenile justice system.
Solano County, administered through the Vallejo City Unified School District and involving multiple community partners, is one of Sierra Health Foundation’s six counties to receive a $75,000 planning grant for the promotion of positive youth development practices in the juvenile justice system.
via The goal of the Summit, held on May 17 at Solano Community College in Vallejo, w….
By Sarah Omojola / commentary
All students can learn. That’s a simple but profound starting place for talking about changing school discipline policies. As a former teacher in New Orleans public schools, I am well aware of the difficulty of teaching students who have varying backgrounds, abilities and learning styles in an ever-changing school system, inundated with countless internal and external pressures.
However, research has shown that students are frequently suspended on grounds such as “willful defiance” for behavior that is often related to having a disability, being culturally different from teachers or administrators, or because they are still learning how to respect themselves and others.
via It’s time to fix school discipline practices and policies – by Sarah Omojola / commentary.
By Susan Frey
The purpose of a complicated bill aimed at preventing students from languishing in alternative schools became much clearer after the testimony of a former student who got stuck in one.
Jessie Camargo, now 18, was transferred to a community school two weeks before his eighth grade graduation. That summer he completed all the requirements set by his district, which included drug and alcohol counseling classes, 140 hours of community service, and an anger management class, but was not allowed to return to his regular high school. Instead, he spent 2 ½ years in the community school, he testified Wednesday at a Senate Education Committee hearing on Senate Bill 744.
via Bill aims to help expelled and truant students get back on track – by Susan Frey.
Many school districts are changing their codes of conduct in a way that limits the use of out-of-school suspension and expulsion and defines the role of law enforcement in school, a recent survey by the American Association of School Administrators and the Council of State Governments found.
But the resources—human and financial—needed to make those changes don’t always match what districts can muster.
via School Discipline Survey Finds Challenges in Making Changes.