As Betsy Devos continues to revamp the United States Department of Education, one initiative that appears to have been left unrevoked is the Obama administration guidance on school discipline. This guidance has caused 53 of America’s largest school districts that serve 6.35 million students to revise their discipline codes to reduce suspensions in 27 states. This transformation has left some feeling that the Obama administration has made errors evidenced by the results in transforming power from teachers to students. While the cultural clash between teachers and students is at the center of the disparities in school discipline, it is more effective to empower teachers to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships to ensure the elimination of disproportionate discipline in schools.

According to the article, On School Discipline, Fix the Problem, Not the Statistics, the author vehemently complains that the success of the Obama administration guidance on school discipline is linked to the lack of progress to transform the culture of schools or the behaviors of school administrators.

According to the author, in Chicago, researchers found a statistically significant deterioration in teacher-reported disruptions and student-reported respect. In Los Angeles, the portion of students who said they felt safe in their school dropped from 72 percent to 60 percent. In Virginia Beach, the percent of teachers who said their school was disorderly and unsafe doubled. And in New York City, student-reported violence rose in half of 90-plus-percent-minority schools (and decreased in only 14 percent). The New York Times reported that school leaders were so reluctant to enforce order that parents had essentially formed a militia to patrol the hallways.

Furthermore, in cities such as Washington, D.C., and Miami, surveys show safety holding steady even as suspensions have decreased. But that’s actually a statistical delusion created by systematic cheating, according to the author. A Washington Post investigation revealed that D.C. high-school principals simply took suspensions off the books, creating informal do-not-admit lists emailed to teachers but not reported to district administrators. In Miami, disruptive students are now warehoused in detention centers, but not technically “suspended.” It appears that the efforts to eliminate disproportionate discipline continue to fail at the cost of inflamed school budgets and student achievement.

The Obama administration guidance on school discipline has helped many students while sacrificing the bureaucratic power invested in teachers. The alternative to continuing to help students who are at risk of participation in the school-to-prison pipeline is to empower teachers to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

Empowering teachers:

1)      Enhances Job Satisfaction – Teachers who are granted the power to take charge of eliminating disproportionate discipline will feel an increased sense of responsibility, accountability, and ownership for their work. They will work diligently to meet the deadlines and school goals associated with eliminating disproportionate school discipline. They will feel energized enough to do what it takes to get the job done and to do it right. All of these reasons fuel an empowered teacher to be more productive, providing better performance results for the school.

2)      Raises Expectations – When a teacher is empowered to eliminate disproportionate school discipline, that teacher has higher expectations. When teachers expectations are raised, teachers will rise to extraordinary levels and can become the catalyst for the necessary growth.

3)      Increases the Quality of Work – In organizations that provide employees with the freedom and flexibility to make a difference, employees feel empowered to deliver high quality work. Schools that provide teachers with the freedom and flexibility to eliminate disproportionate school discipline will deliver higher levels of quality work.

4)      Increases Collaboration – As teachers are empowered to eliminate disproportionate school discipline they will feel treated as vital components of the school as well as gain self-confidence in their abilities to positively influence the school. Teachers with healthy levels of self-confidence and self-esteem are more willing to share information with others. They feel comfortable exchanging ideas and collaborating with other teachers in an honest and open manner. These behaviors promote teamwork and active involvement in support of school and district wide goals that could not be achieved with a disjointed, non-connected workforce.

5)      Increases Productivity – Teachers who are granted the power to eliminate disproportionate school discipline will take charge at work and feel an increased sense of responsibility, accountability, and ownership for their work.

Empowering teachers will not only help to enhance the Obama administration guidelines on school discipline, it will also help to improve the overall school climate.

Relates Articles

State looking at JCPS racial discipline disparity

What Happens When a School Stops Arresting Kids for Throwing Skittles

Is DeVos Near Ending School Discipline Reform After Talks on Race, Safety?

All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

         
Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

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“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools


“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor


“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President


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