Years ago, a student suspension was atypical punishment. An out-of school suspension was only awarded to a student, who demonstrated ghastly behavior against their peers or teachers. For a suspension to be granted by the school district, a principal had to present evidence that indubitably proved that there was cause for this type of punishment. All students understood that a suspension was a serious matter, which could negatively impact their academic success.
Nowadays, school suspensions are a very common disciplinary practice. Out-of-school suspension can be issued to any students (kindergartener to high schooler) that repeatedly commit minor offenses such as missing homework, using their cell phones, or talking out of turn in the classroom. It is estimated that two million kids are suspended in one academic year.
This shift in our school’s suspension practice can be blamed on money. A out-of-school suspension is a cost-effective punishment. Districts no longer have to spend money on extra counseling, dentations programs, or mediation. Which are initiatives that work, but are expensive to maintain.
Though this is a cheap punishment to implement, it not an effective one. Suspensions do not address underlying issues that are causing a student’s bad behavior. Instead, kids, who are constantly suspended, can become detachment academically and continue to be disobedient.
Many states such as California, Texas, and New York have ordered a temporary ban on out-of-school suspension. By initiating this banning, state officials hope that school districts can find alternative ways to discipline children, especially younger kids.
But, is banning out-school suspensions the solution?
The ban does not help schools address with the real problem: how to handling disruptive students with patience and time. Children who act up do so for specific reasons. It is up to the educator to identify the root cause of the misbehavior and to find ways of de-escalating that behavior in the classroom. But, this takes time and training.
Schools need to be given the resources and time to develop positive behavior pathways in their academic community. Otherwise, school districts will continue to suspend kids, but it will just be an in-school suspension. Isolating students is not the answer, but it will be their remedy to this ban.