Making schools safe, supportive environments that prepare students :: WRAL.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is that of Mary Ann Wolf “Last word“From the October 24, 2020 issue of Education Matters -“Police in schools and disciplinary disparities. ”Wolf is President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.
Like the work of the Public Schools Forum Study Group XVI Highlighted, we know that students of color in North Carolina schools have significantly higher short-term and long-term suspension rates than their white counterparts.
And while the state has lowered overall suspension and expulsion rates, what hasn’t changed is the disproportionate representation of students of color in disciplinary actions. On average, black students were about four times more likely than white students to receive short-term suspensions during the 2018-19 school year.
Research has shown that exclusionary disciplinary practices such as suspensions and expulsions do not improve student behavior and could lead to negative feelings towards school. A 2015 study found that each suspension decreases a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school by an additional 20% and reduces the likelihood of enrolling in post-secondary school by 12%.
We also know that every minute a student is absent from class means they are less likely to be on task and more likely to miss critical instruction.
These practices contribute to what’s known as the school-to-prison pipeline, which is a system of policies and practices that push students out of school and into juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.
This year’s Social Equity Report Card reveals that the school-to-prison pipeline has three key entry points: academic failure, academic discipline, and involvement in the courts – and that students from color are over-represented at every pipeline entry point in nearly all northern school districts. Caroline. Once students enter the pipeline, it can be difficult for them to re-engage and be successful in school.
Another topic that comes up frequently is the role of school resource officers, or SROs, in schools. The goal of the SRO program is to create and maintain safe, secure and orderly educational environments by placing law enforcement officers in schools. School districts across the country have started to reconsider the role of ORS and police on school grounds.
While some see these police officers as essential in protecting students from violence, especially mass school shootings, others question whether the presence of police in schools has a disproportionate impact on students of color. with regard to discipline and arrests. More than a quarter of NC school resource managers suggest that more or improved training would improve the job of a statewide school resource manager.
All of this data raises the urgent question of what we can do as a state to reduce disciplinary disparities, level the playing field for black and brown students, and ensure that all students are safe and well equipped to access an education. solid foundation, like our constitution guarantees. Today we discussed a number of goals to achieve:
- Collect better data. We need to collect more data on discipline at the school and district level, disaggregated by race. Better data can help us shine a light on areas of disproportion or disparity and improve success.
- Revise or redesign codes of conduct to align with social and emotional learning and reduce vague or subjective discipline categories such as disrespect, disruptive behavior or insubordination. Developing a more strengths-based code of conduct or character code that focuses on supporting the child as a whole, while seeking safety, can be an important step.
- Implement restorative justice practices. Restorative justice programs, when implemented faithfully, have been shown to be effective in reducing the overall incidence of student misconduct as well as racial differences. Restorative practices must include meaningful professional learning opportunities and be faithfully implemented in order to transform school culture.
- Invest in more school counselors, social workers, school psychologists and school nurses. In North Carolina, our schools are severely understaffed by these essential mental health professionals. The benefits of investing in academic support staff, however, are clear: schools with strong student support services see their attendance rates, better academic performance, higher graduation rates, and improved safety; as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion and other disciplinary incidents.
The focus on equity and the child as a whole provides an important perspective through which to examine discipline and restorative practices in schools. I would dare say that every child comes to us in kindergarten with the desire to learn and to succeed.
To make sure that happens, we need to transform our schools into safe and supportive environments that prepare our students for college, careers and citizenship, instead of employing harmful disciplinary or exclusionary practices in our communities. schools that go against our collective learning goals.
Together, we can work towards policy solutions that support equity and create positive learning environments for all.
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