The Times has a sad story this morning about a federal investigation by the US Department of Education against SPS over discipline rates of African Americans. The Times does point out that this information is really nothing new. The district (and parents) have know about this for years and yet it is still the case.
African-American students are suspended from school more than three
times as often as white students from elementary schools to high
More than one-fourth of black middle schoolers have received
short-term suspensions every year since 1996. Native Americans are
disciplined more often than Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The “compliance review” began in May but didn’t become public knowledge until it was reported Tuesday by KUOW radio.
District Superintendent José Banda acknowledged problems with
student discipline — and said he intends to do something about them.
Banda said he didn’t know how long the federal compliance review will
take, and the Department of Education’s Bradshaw declined to provide
Banda pledged cooperation with the investigation and said he expects
the Department of Education will find disproportionate disciplining of
The district's answer? More committees. That might be great but most committee work gets a pat on the back and goes nowhere (ask the original race and disproportionality committee that did their work some 20+ years back).
There is new attention and a trend towards trying harder to keep kids in school because, of course, if they are not there, they are not learning.
This unevenness in SPS is, of course, wrong.
So what is happening that teachers feel compelled to exit students from their classroom? It's a valid question because if this many students are exited, then we likely have large numbers of teachers throwing up their hands.
If teachers make behavior expectations clear at the beginning of the year - to both students and parents - with gentle follow-ups if there are issues, you'd hope that both teachers and parents would stand firm on those expectations.
Why are students acting out? Are they bored, do they need behavior modification or some other kind of direction? Consistent acting out means something is wrong and if the rest of the class isn't acting out then you have to try to figure out what you give the teacher to deal with a student who will not comply.
Unless there is a study of some sort in SPS to ask teachers what these issues are, all the committee work in the world won't mean anything.
I understand that children learn differently and may have different cultural ways of expressing themselves. But, at the end of the day, the teacher is the arbiter of what happens in the classroom. When you get 30+ students in a classroom, there needs to be variation in the day so that students are not just sitting passively but there also has to be an understanding that disruptions to the classroom on a continuing basis won't work.
But this cannot stand and that the district has know about it and yet it has continued is one more sad dysfunction to a district that has been slowly turning itself around.