Daily VideoOctober 13, 2015
What happens when schools suspend young students?
More than three million students are suspended from public schools in the U.S. each year, including some students as young as kindergarten.
Many of these students attend public charter schools, including Success Academy, a network of highly competitive charter schools in New York City, where student suspensions rates are almost three times higher than that of traditional public schools in the city.
Last year, Principal Monica Komery of Success Academy in Brooklyn issued 44 out-of-school suspensions to her 203 kindergartners and first-graders. The school has a zero-tolerance policy around certain behaviors, but suspension is used only as the final consequence of a disciplinary process, Komery said.
Studies show that students who receive out-of-school suspensions see a greater chance of being held back a year, dropping out or ending up in trouble with the law.
Many parents send their children to charter schools because of the strong focus on both learning and discipline. Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, believes behavior sets the stage for learning. “If you get it right in the early years, you actually have to suspend far less when the kids are older, because they understand what is expected of them,” she said.
Jamir Geidi, a former student at Success Academy Upper West, was suspended three or four times as a young elementary school student. He said he began to question why he bothered to go to school. Jamir’s mother said the public school her son now attends works with him when he has behavior issues.
Moskowitz’s critics accuse her of issuing high numbers of out-of-school suspensions for the same students in hopes that they will transfer to another school, keeping Success Academy’s state test scores high – a charge she strongly denies.
Marie Chauvet-Monchik, Principal of Public School 138 in Brooklyn, New York issued zero suspensions last year. “When you send a child home, the child is missing instruction. So, I’m actually robbing the child of an education,” she said.
charter school — schools that receive public funding but are privately run, allowing them to set their own rules on school matters, such as discipline
infraction — a violation or infringement of a set of rules
attrition —the reduction in the number of students attending a school
Warm up questions
- What is the discipline code in your school?
- Why might a student be suspended from school?
- Do strict disciplinary rules help young children learn better?
Critical thinking questions
- What is the argument for suspending a first grader and what is the argument against suspending a first grader?
- What does a student learn from being sent home when they don’t follow rules?
- If you were a kindergarten teacher and one student was misbehaving and disrupting the whole class, what would you do?
- How can schools deal with bad behavior in a way that doesn’t disrupt the misbehaving student’s learning?
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