Harsh School Discipline Challenged

| October 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

Common Sense Approach Proposed

The California Endowment announced events in support of the National Week of Action on school discipline, which occurred this past October, to shine a spotlight on the alarming overuse of suspension, expulsion and other harsh punishments in California schools.

In the 2010-11 academic year, California schools issued more than 720,000 suspensions and expulsions, with the majority unrelated to violence or drugs, according to state data. After the 1999 shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School, many schools adopted policies that required harsh penalties for even minor misconduct, hoping that schools would become safer.

In San Diego County, approximately 40,000 students are suspended each year. And, I ask, where do they go? What happens to them? And, what’s the plan?

“After 20 years of this approach, the research is clear, harsh punishments don’t create safer schools, improve test scores or increase graduation rates,” said Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment. “These policies have gotten way off track. It’s time to get back to common-sense discipline that holds kids accountable, keeps them in school and gives educators the training and support they need to keep classrooms safe and successful.”

For San Diego County, we have to ask, what is proposed?

According to Ross, leadership and partnership is critical to this effort. That’s why local schools are reaching out to partner with the universities that have “social service” related programs and services that can help with this effort. And, he says, “Non-traditional outreach is occurring, such as conversations in hair salons and barber shops to stimulate discussion on the topic.”

After learning of this challenge, I also discussed meeting with local social, civic and religious leaders. I said I would help initiate discussions on this topic. In the next issue of the , we will provide more conversation on this extremely important issue.

In conclusion, The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation that was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org.

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Category: Education

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