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March 14 2019

Hooray for School Suspensions!

by Charlotte Hays

The Obama administration promoted the idea that the difference in suspension rates between African-American kids and non-minority kids was the result of racial prejudice.

They overlooked some of the possible root causes of unruly behavior (such as that a higher proportion of African-American children are growing up in single-parent households in which a struggling mother is forced to parent for two).

The Obama Education Department preferred to focus on suspension rates rather than the behaviors that led to suspensions.

Not surprisingly in line with that kind of thinking, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have instituted policies that reduce the number of suspensions.

That means that the populations of New York City's "Alternate Learning Centers," which are  often called simply “suspension schools,” is way down.

New York school teacher J. Bryan McGeever, who teaches at an ALC, takes note:

Suspensions are down 50 percent. Students committing outrageous misconduct often stay in their regular classrooms. Remember when cursing out a teacher was a very big deal? Well, now it’s just Tuesday.

But what if ALCs aren’t a wasteland of unwanted children on the path to ruination? What if the city’s suspension centers are actually productive places dedicated to smashing the school-to-prison pipeline? What if City Hall’s virtue-signaling policies are based on myths?

ALCs have guidance counselors and social workers and teach five major subjects. There is also online learning. The kids engage in "talk circles" to re-evaluate the way they make decisions. And there are field trips to part of the city these kids don't regularly visit.

On what myths is the de Blasio policy of cutting suspensions based?

Well, according to McGeever, one is the belief that the primary reason kids are suspended because of racial prejudice:

Then there’s the myth of systematic discrimination. Schools don’t have the power to suspend students on the basis of race or ethnicity. An independent hearing ­officer assigned by the DOE listens to both sides and determines whether a student gets suspended and, if so, for how long. The school can make a recommendation for suspension, but ultimately the ­officer decides the penalty. If a student is still not satisfied, he can ­apply for a transfer.

During my 15 years as a teacher in the Big Apple, my supervisors have been mainly women of color — strong, competent, highly educated products of city schools. Women who are married to black men. Women who are raising black boys. Does the mayor really ­believe these women would tolerate students of color being targeted for suspension? Is he suggesting they’re major players in some grand racist conspiracy?

Does he think these women wouldn’t be the first to speak out if Hizzoner’s theory were true?

So a fall in the suspension rate might not necessarily be good news for kids--but somebody benefits:

A 50 percent drop in school suspensions is an excellent talking point for a politician seeking a national platform, but it does little for the school system that needs him back home. A mayor who refuses to discipline students properly because he may face political scrutiny is an abomination.

But why not sacrifice kids on the altar of political correctness?

Happens all the time.

 

 

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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