Who has the best lights in town? Vote now for your favorite in our holiday lights contest.
State and local programs to address minor discipline problems are helping to reduce suspension rates.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Students prone to dangerous behavior like fighting and drug and alcohol use don’t belong on school grounds.
But there are smarter ways than suspension to handle mouthy, disruptive youngsters or those who sneak smartphones into class.
School officials overwhelmed with demands and budget cuts understandably want to clear the troublemakers from the premises so they can get back to educating students who want to be there.
Suspensions provide quick relief at no cost. Except there is a cost.
It’s common sense that youths sent home for misbehavior aren’t going to use their free time to sign up for self-improvement classes. They watch TV, play video games and hang out on the streets.
Research shows that schools with high suspension rates also have low test scores, high dropout rates and more students who walk out the school door and into a juvenile correctional center.
Henrico County Public Schools is partnering with the Legal Aid Justice Center, a Virginia advocacy group, to reduce overall suspension rates at middle schools as well as to tackle higher rates among students with disabilities and minority students.
Henrico isn’t the only community facing this problem. An analysis of state data by the Justice Center found that more than 86,600 Virginia students were suspended or expelled, many more than once, in the 2011‑12 academic year.
According to the Virginia Department of Education, there were 173,300 short-term suspensions, 4,800 long-term suspensions and 750 expulsions that year, or about 1,000 per school day. More than 29,600 short-term suspensions were for elementary students, according to the Justice Center. The top three reasons for short-term suspensions were defiance, class disruption and bad language, reasons that also were among the top 10 cited for long-term suspensions.
The state education department provides trainers to schools that participate in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program, which helps teachers with classroom management and works with students to improve behavior through peer mediation and counseling. Several schools in Roanoke and Radford and the counties of Bedford, Montgomery and Pulaski participate in the program.
Statewide, 219 schools participate, just 12 percent of all schools in Virginia, but Gov. Bob McDonnell included additional funds in the current budget to expand the program. Already, state statistics show short- and long-term suspensions are on the decline as school officials, community leaders and parents work together to intervene before mischief morphs into meanness and, ultimately, failure.
Weather JournalEnd of the blog as we know it?