Suspensions

Eva Moskowitz writes:

My father wound up a professor of mathematics, but as a child he was sent away to reform school for hitting a classmate who called him a “dirty Jew.” Compare this to three elementary-school students at PS 194 who made a classmate perform oral sex. Their punishments: five days suspension for two of them, 10 days for the third because he’d attacked a girl before.

My father’s teacher would’ve been shocked both by this conduct and by how leniently it was punished. Yet some critics say schools are actually too strict.  At Success Academies, the schools I founded, our suspension rates are higher than average and I’m sure we’ll be criticized for this. For example, Success Academy Harlem 5, has a suspension rate of 14 percent. (That means 14 percent of our kids get suspended at least once during the year.) Located in the same building is a district school, PS 123, whose rate is 9 percent.

Is that higher rate warranted?  Eva argues yes. 

The State Education Department reports that in the most recent year for which data is available, 2010-11, PS 123 had 92 violent or disruptive incidents; Success Academy Harlem 5 had one (a theft).

Read the whole thing here

When I was on the board of a small district public school in Boston, the majority of the teachers -- I interviewed almost all of them as we searched for a new headmaster, asking what qualities they sought --  wanted a discipline system that was both a) more uniform across all teachers, and b) stricter. 

The way I heard it was, their preferences were:

1. Tough/Love school, with lots of love, but clear rules.  In fact, better to frame it as "Love/Tough" school. 

If they couldn't have that, though, they preferred

2. Lax/Love school (status quo)

over

3. Tough "mean" school

In the end, they kept Lax/Love school.   

This school shared a building with another Boston Public School, which was "traditional." 

Some teachers and administrators from the traditional BPS school had contempt for their neighboring educators.  They felt "those kids" ran wild and distracted children in their own classrooms.