Discipline rules in the classroom are just as strict as they were 20 years ago, which spells a problem in classroom management that detours students from the school building to a prison cell. Throwing a small temper tantrum is considered ordinary misbehavior; claiming to blow up the school is a whole different story. School administrators must learn to not tag ordinary misconduct as threats to school safety.
Studies show discrimination against skin color, too often determines which students are escorted to jail. Students have been placed in handcuffs for acting out, and this disciplinary route does not warrant arrest in most cases. As Attorney General Eric Holder points out, “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct.”
Those precincts for students exhibiting ill-behavior contain more Hispanic and black students than other racial groups. Government civil rights data also reveals black students without disabilities were expelled or suspended three times more than whites in 2011-2012. The numbers do not get better from here with more than a third of black students suspended at least once, 44 percent experienced more than one suspension, and over a third of students were expelled. Black students represented 15 percent of students in the data sheet.
The Obama Administration confronts the lingering race issue in the classroom with a list of recommendations to include fair policies. The nonbinding guidelines are released to schools on Wednesday. The letter states the purpose of recommendations is to ensure that all personnel are trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to de-escalate classroom disruptions.
The Justice Department and Department of Education declare “zero tolerance” rules as spearheading the “school to prison pipeline.” Classroom management techniques must be in full effect to prevent behavioral trips to the police station, and detour the route leading from school to prison.
This pipeline describes the process of suspending and expelling minority students at a much higher rate than whites as an automatic disadvantage. The administration letter contains the following recommendations:
-School administration must abide by a set of discipline rules for students instead of sending them to law enforcement.
-Each school security personnel need a list of separate and clear duties.
– Open communication between parents and students with security personnel should be encouraged.
The written statement continues: “The departments [of Justice and Education] often receive complaints from parents that a teacher only refers students of a particular race outside of the classroom for discipline, even though students of other races in that classroom commit the same infractions. Where this is true, there has been selective enforcement.”
Schools need better instructional leaders to keep students engaged and retain positive behaviors and attendance. Researchers conducted a study asking school principals to follow 100 rules throughout their school day.
“Results showed that principals spent, on average, 12.6 percent of their time on activities related to instruction. The most common was classroom walk-throughs (5.4%) and the second was formal teacher evaluation (2.4%),” The Washington Post stated.
Principals actively investing interest in classroom and hallway activities gain more attention and appreciation from staff and students collectively. School personnel cooped up in their office sets a more negative tone, and could increase lack of effort from teachers and students.
Researchers believe instructional leadership activities that include useful feedback to teachers is crucial. Positive and fair-minded school personnel coupled with results-oriented management techniques can inspire positive student behavior and attention in class.
The chance of parents picking up their student from jail for minor disciplinary issues is less likely when schools work together at the state and national level against racial discrimination. Classroom management succeeds when students detour from the route of school to prison.
By Teria Seah