Behavior/Discipline, Vision: 2020

“City of Compassion” Should Come Together on Code of Conduct

This letter was submitted via our open letter form. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Dear JCPS. But in this case, it does. ūüėČ

Dear JCPS,

Every employee of every organization is absolutely entitled to work in a safe and secure workplace, just as every student at every school is entitled to an authentic education in a safe and secure school. No one deserves a ticket to a future without hope Рnot teachers and not students.

That is why I support bringing together stakeholder groups, including students, in a meaningful way to make data-informed, research-based SYSTEMIC changes to school policies and to a school culture which sadly limits everyone’s potential.

Nationwide, the data which schools are required to report to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of classroom removals are for minor misconduct. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are minority or LGBT students or students with disabilities.

Per the 2014 The School Discipline Consensus Report, ‚ÄúThere is¬†no question that when students commit serious offenses or pose a threat to¬†school safety they may need to be removed from the campus or arrested. Such¬†incidents, however, are relatively rare.‚ÄĚ

And, ‚ÄúIt is important to distinguish between efforts to improve school climate for¬†students and educators that can come across as perfunctory‚ÄĒsuch as hanging¬†student artwork on the walls, announcing teacher appreciation days, or convening¬†monthly student assemblies‚ÄĒand the strategies that have been shown to improve¬†attendance and student success, engagement, and behavior. Although educators,¬†administrators, and the school community universally value a positive school climate,¬†they do not always share an understanding of what it takes to achieve it.‚ÄĚ

In 2014, over 700 hundred experts in education (including teachers), behavioral health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice leaders as well as policymakers, parents, youth, and advocates from all over the nation came together in consensus to publish The School Discipline Consensus Report as a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education & Justice. Can we not, in our City of Compassion, do the same?

Judith Bradley
Idea Architect
jackbenimble.org (coming soon)

 

In the meantime, here are excerpts from the Executive Summary section:

‚ÄúEveryone agrees that schools should provide an environment where students and staff¬†feel physically and emotionally safe, connected, fairly treated, and valued. Research has¬†demonstrated that academic achievement and positive behaviors increase when these conditions¬†for learning are in place. Unfortunately, promoting a positive school climate often takes a back¬†seat to educators‚Äô and administrators‚Äô efforts to address mandates to improve test scores and¬†graduation rates, even though strong conditions for learning have been shown to help improve¬†academic achievement. Where school leaders have not made school climate a priority,¬†disciplinary approaches often rely heavily on the removal of students from school.¬†It is important to distinguish between efforts to improve school climate for students and¬†educators that can come across as perfunctory‚ÄĒsuch as hanging student artwork on the walls,¬†announcing teacher appreciation days, or convening monthly student assemblies‚ÄĒand the¬†strategies that have been shown to improve attendance and student success, engagement, and¬†behavior. Although educators, administrators, and the school community universally value a¬†positive school climate, they do not always share an understanding of what it takes to achieve it.¬†Schools often lack the means to accurately assess their own climates, and to involve the school¬†community in developing a vision and corrective plan. School administrators and staff need¬†training and professional development opportunities, job-embedded supports, and feedback on¬†their performance to carry out these plans. District codes of conduct should also reinforce steps to sustain a positive school climate, and be routinely assessed and revised to ensure progress.

The extent to which students are safe, connected, engaged, and supported in their classrooms¬†and schools‚ÄĒcollectively known as the ‚Äúconditions for learning‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒis critical to their academic¬†and personal success. Schools that create welcoming and secure learning environments reduce¬†the likelihood that students will misbehave, and improve educators‚Äô ability to manage student¬†behavior.

Research and data on school discipline practices are clear: millions of students are being removed from their classrooms each year, mostly in middle and high schools, and overwhelmingly for minor misconduct. When suspended, these students are at a significantly higher risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school, and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are youth of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).

There is no question that when students commit serious offenses or pose a threat to school safety¬†they may need to be removed from the campus or arrested. Such incidents, however, are¬†relatively rare, and school typically remains the safest place a young person can be during the¬†day. In schools with high rates of suspension for minor offenses, however, students and teachers¬†often feel they are not safe or supported in their learning environment.¬†Trailblazing student and parent groups, advocacy organizations, researchers, professional¬†associations, and school districts have raised the visibility of exclusionary discipline practices¬†across the nation. In response, individual schools, districts, and state education systems have¬†implemented research-based approaches to address student misbehavior that hold youth¬†accountable, address victims‚Äô needs, and effectively improve both student conduct and adult¬†responses. These approaches also help keep students engaged in classrooms and out of¬†courtrooms.‚ÄĚ

1 thought on ““City of Compassion” Should Come Together on Code of Conduct”

  1. It does NOT represent this Dear JCPS persons view. JCPS has proven time and again that they will not support any program they implement. In order for ANY RP program to work it will take MONEY AND RESOURCES. You know those things that JCPS hates to give up. Unless it’s for a district admin that is. . . .

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