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Roach: My Education Crusade - Why Suspension Stats Don’t Matter

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

 

Over the past few months, I’ve been told that there are a number of issues with our Rhode Island schools. We spend too much time “teaching to the test.” We don’t spend enough on education. Teachers’ benefits are too high. Parents need to be more involved.

One thing I haven’t heard is that minorities are disproportionately suspended by RI schools. And yet, according to the RI ACLU that is indeed the case and one of the ills plaguing our school system. They wrote, “The failures of Rhode Island’s school discipline policies have for too long funneled

children–especially children of color –out of the classroom and toward the school-to-prison pipeline.” Yes, in case you weren’t aware there’s a pipeline from Central High School to the ACI by way of Broad Street and school suspensions are the indicator that said pipeline exists, don’t ya know!?

I apologize for the sarcasm, but this type of “analysis” reeks of searching for a problem where none exists. Is the ACLU implying that Rhode Island schools are racist and targeting minority children? That’s really the only conclusion you can draw from their “analysis”. If minority children are getting suspended more than their white peers, racism or at least subjective enforcement must be the culprit. The alternative is that minority children get into more mischief than white children and pay the consequences. So we either live in a racist state or minority children are running amuck.

Sigh.

I really hate groups that spend their time on issues – term used loosely – like this. It’s not that the ACLU’s intention isn’t in the right place; it’s that there are more important education related issues in our state than suspensions. Some of you may have children who’ve been suspended before and I’m sorry that has happened. But when looking at suspension rates, why don’t we spend a few words on an area the ACLU report ignores, namely legitimate bad actions that are being met with suspensions.

There are times kids do things that deserve a suspension. We could argue the merits of in school versus out-of-school suspension, but the ACLU largely ignores how to address bad behavior and instead links suspensions with some form of injustice keeping certain kids from getting an education.

Get real.

Want to reduce suspensions? Stop looking at the race of the student and look at antecedents to bad behavior. Is a child’s home life stable? Did they just get dumped by a girlfriend? Do they have lunch money? Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You know, standard stuff that 21st century kids go through while trying to get an education.

We don’t need to put teachers through some form of diversity training warning them that because 8 percent of the population is a particular minority group, they must ensure they don’t hand out suspensions to that group compared to the other kids more than 8 percent of time. Teachers have enough to think about than making calculations about the racial makeup of disciplined students.

And still the ACLU says this is an issue. Well as I continue my educational crusade when I visit Blackstone Valley Prep tomorrow, I’ll make sure to get the principals thoughts on minority suspensions and see how much sleep he loses over such things.

I’m guessing it’s less than the amount of time it took you to read this.

Don can be reached at don.@donroach.org . You can follow Don on Twitter at @donroach34.

 

Related Slideshow: RI Home Schooled Students

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34. Central Falls

Home schooled students per 1,000: 1.1

Total home schooled students: 3

Total public school students in district: 2,694

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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33. Barrington

Home schooled students per 1,000: 3.6

Total home schooled students: 12

Total public school students in district: 3,334

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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32. Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 3.7

Total home schooled students: 89

Total public school students in district: 23,827

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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31. North Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 6.0

Total home schooled students: 21

Total public school students in district: 3,498

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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30. Johnston

Home schooled students per 1,000: 6.5

Total home schooled students: 20

Total public school students in district: 3,095

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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29. Lincoln

Home schooled students per 1,000: 7.9

Total home schooled students: 25

Total public school students in district: 3,182

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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28. Pawtucket

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.0

Total home schooled students: 15

Total public school students in district: 8,953

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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27. Westerly

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.3

Total home schooled students: 25

Total public school students in district: 3,016

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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26. North Smithfield

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.7

Total home schooled students: 15

Total public school students in district: 1,729

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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25. New Shoreham

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.8

Total home schooled students: 1

Total public school students in district: 114

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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24. Bristol-Warren

Home schooled students per 1,000: 9.0

Total home schooled students: 31

Total public school students in district: 3,429

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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23. Cranston

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.05

Total home schooled students: 106

Total public school students in district: 10,552

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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22. South Kingstown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.3

Total home schooled students: 35

Total public school students in district: 3,397

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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21. Middletown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.6

Total home schooled students: 24

Total public school students in district: 2,267

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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20. Narragansett

Home schooled students per 1,000: 11.5

Total home schooled students: 16

Total public school students in district: 1,396

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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19. East Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 12.0

Total home schooled students: 64

Total public school students in district: 5,321

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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18. Glocester

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.2

Total home schooled students: 7

Total public school students in district: 529

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

 

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17. Smithfield

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.4

Total home schooled students: 32

Total public school students in district: 2,396

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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16. Cumberland

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.5

Total home schooled students: 61

Total public school students in district: 4,531

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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15. Burrillville

Home schooled students per 1,000: 14.2

Total home schooled students: 34

Total public school students in district: 2,401

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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14. Warwick

Home schooled students per 1,000: 14.6

Total home schooled students: 137

Total public school students in district: 9,393

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Photo: Flickr/Ken Zirkel

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13. Jamestown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 15.8

Total home schooled students: 8

Total public school students in district: 507

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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12. North Kingstown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 16.5

Total home schooled students: 67

Total public school students in district: 4,056

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Photo: Flickr/C. Hanchey

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11. Coventry

Home schooled students per 1,000: 16.6

Total home schooled students: 83

Total public school students in district: 4,992

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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10. Portsmouth

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.0

Total home schooled students: 45

Total public school students in district: 2,647

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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9. Foster-Glocester

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.3

Total home schooled students: 20

Total public school students in district: 1,153

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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8. Woonsocket

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.9

Total home schooled students: 106

Total public school students in district: 5,920

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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7. West Warwick

Home schooled students per 1,000: 18.4

Total home schooled students: 63

Total public school students in district: 3,421

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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6. Scituate

Home schooled students per 1,000: 18.7

Total home schooled students: 27

Total public school students in district: 1,448

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Prev Next

5. Tiverton

Home schooled students per 1,000: 20.3

Total home schooled students: 38

Total public school students in district: 1,873

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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4. Newport

Home schooled students per 1,000: 23.5

Total home schooled students: 47

Total public school students in district: 1,996

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Prev Next

3. Foster

Home schooled students per 1,000: 25.7

Total home schooled students: 7

Total public school students in district: 272

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Prev Next

2. Chariho

Home schooled students per 1,000: 26.8

Total home schooled students: 92

Total public school students in district: 3,427

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Prev Next

1. Little Compton

Home schooled students per 1,000: 42.3

Total home schooled students: 11

Total public school students in district: 260

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

 
 

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Comments:

Nice and to the point Don. Thank you!

Comment #1 by lupe fiasco on 2014 03 12

THe ACLU is part of the problem...

Comment #2 by Jimmy LaRouche on 2014 03 12

Don - If you are looking at charter schools, please take time to look at the "reverse" side of them -- those charter schools that statistically have far fewer minority, far fewer low income students, and far fewer students with disabilities than the school districts from which they draw students -- and even then don't perform as well as the comparable regular public schools that are closest to those charters.

I applaud BV Prep and most charters take the kinds of students that benefit from a different environment; however, educational reform should not be about subsidizing a bunch of white, middle to upper income class families who just want to better start and stop times and some of the advantages charters getting 15K a pop can provide when it comes at the expense of lower income students whose public schools get reduced funding.

Also, the charter school funding formula is biased toward charter schools. Some schools don't offer sports. They don't have school resource officers. They don't pay send any students out of district for various reasons --- yet the charters reap the benefit because tuition is based on all the per pupil expenditures of the sending district.

Comment #3 by Prof Steve on 2014 03 12

Great points prof Steve. Also, Don I agree with your main point that suspensions are not a good indicator of the success or failure of a school or district. Some good numbers-crunching is needed to get beneath the surface of suspension numbers. Prof Steve covered a good part of that. Also, different schools and districts have different policies when it comes to assigning and counting suspensions. For instance, some schools do not often suspend students out-of-house, and some districts do not count in-house suspensions in their suspension statistics. So if you get a school that hands out mostly in-house suspensions in a district that doesn't count in-house suspensions, you will get a disproportionately low number of suspensions. The opposite would also be true. I support the work of the ACLU in general even if they're sometimes barking up the wrong issue. I think this might be one of those cases.

Comment #4 by John Onamas on 2014 03 12

According to a report issued by the Rhode Island training School, 50% of all incarcerated youth have no school record for the year leading to their arrest; of the remaining 50%, incarcerated youth have mainly Ds and Fs for the year proceeding their arrest. It does matter that their not in school. Take me to any middle school in Providence, show me the attendance sheet for a quarter and I'll tell you whose going to RITS then the ACI.

Comment #5 by bill bentley on 2014 03 12

This is just going to keep the "victim mentality" myth going so progressives can keep moving their agenda forward.

Prof Steve - Brings up great points about funding for charters vs regular public, and even private schools for that matter. The public schools are asked to do so much more than teach, and by law they can't refuse.

The ACLU funds itself through cases like this on the backs of tax payers.

Comment #6 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 13




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