Consequences such as school suspensions are designed to help students correct behaviors that school officials consider undesirable. It appears that this consequence no longer has the intended impact on students. Many students believe that they are fighting for something more important and school suspensions only validates their beliefs.
A local school district only validates that school suspensions are no longer effective. In Durham Public Schools (DPS), assaults on teachers has increased even though the school suspension consequences continues as the primary weapon used by administrators. Overall, DPS had had a seventeen percent increase in reportable offenses during the 2016 – 2017 school year.
Bryan Proffitt, president of the Durham Association of Educators, reports that “As students come to our classrooms holding more and more trauma from poverty, deportations and violence in their own lives, they need more support than they ever have just to navigate their own emotions and mental and physical health”. Furthermore,
“At the same time, educators have fewer resources and more pressures than we’ve ever faced. Those two factors together seem likely to produce increased conflict and it’s one more way that the state legislature is putting educators and communities against each other when we are each others most natural allies.” It appears that Bryan Proffitt has placed the blame on factors external to the interactions between teachers and students.
The top five reasons cited for short-term school suspensions at DPS include:
- Fighting/Physical Aggression
- Non-Compliance with Directives
- Serious Disruptive Behavior
The top five reasons for long-term school suspensions at DPS include:
- Possession of Weapons
- Fighting/Physical Aggression
- Assault on School Personnel
- Threat/False Threat
Twenty-five percent of the top eight reasons for school suspensions involve interactions between teachers and students. Evidently, there must be other factors that contributes to the challenges between teachers and students. Those factors include the historical treatment of students.
When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Black adolescents believe school is a hostile place and teachers are oppression agents. School leaders must stop assuming that all the reasons for Black children’s problems with school rest with the children and their environment and accept the fact that much of the responsibility rests with the school system.
School suspensions only exasperates the problem. In a recent study, Dr. Campbell found that school suspensions resulted in increased incidents and increased absences. In his study he found that when a student received a school suspensions for a minor infractions such as a classroom disruption, the student chose to either be late for school or be absent on the day that the student was to serve their school suspension. This cycle had an impact on the students classroom grades which ultimately impacted the schools overall rating on standardized state assessments. This response is a major contributor to excessive school suspensions.
Students must believe that the school suspension is warranted because Black students react to arbitrary and autocratic White teacher disciplinary assertiveness by believing that a White man is still trying to tell him what to do. Most teachers respond to students who attempt to act tough with them by threatening or talking back to the student.
Removing hostile Black students from the school or classroom only delays the inevitable confrontation between the teacher and the student. Whites attempt to minimize confrontations and struggles with Blacks in the persuasive process that they interpret as divisive while Blacks believe these struggles unify because they care enough to struggle for something. American societal beliefs that posit Blacks as inferior to European-descent Americans result in Blacks’ preoccupation and group focus on the concepts of freedom and equality.
Black students believe that what they are fighting for is worth the fight. Blacks value group unity and focus on justice and fairness. The only viable alternative is to Promote Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and therefore eliminate at least twenty-five percent of the DPS school suspensions.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
- 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
“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