St. Paul says its schools are ahead of the nation on discipline

  • Article by: Anthony Lonetree and Steve Brandt , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2014 - 9:12 PM

District cites results with policies like federal directives.

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bgronniJan. 12, 14 9:13 PM

Aren't rules rules? And if ones are broken that are serious enough does it make a difference what race the child is? Guess so. so to make suspensions fair more white kids will be suspended for more minor things, or will less minorities be suspended for more serious ones? Gotta keep things equal, even though they are not.

brucelieJan. 12, 14 9:32 PM

A boy in my daughter's fourth grade class was reprimanded for talking during a lesson. He punched the teacher in the face bringing her to tears. My daughter said there had been several previous disciplinary incidents for this boy. Punching the teacher resulted in his expulsion from school. The child lived with his single mom. Clearly the boy was not sent to school prepared to learn, and his race had nothing to do with it. Any child living in a chaotic home populated by his mother and her current boy friend, without a father to set and enforce limits and likely experiencing violent domestic episodes is likely to act out in school. Race has nothing to do with it. The Federal Government clearly does not have enough to do.

tokyotimJan. 12, 14 9:36 PM

bgronni, you miss the point. The main point is that kids need to be accountable for their actions and boundaries need to be drawn. Schools are expected to teach cultural norms as well as basic skills. We shortchange kids by not expecting them to treat others with respect, follow rules and to be accountable for their actions. And, what about the kids whose education is harmed by the behaviors of students who don't behave appropriately?

augsburg54Jan. 12, 14 9:37 PM

Zero tolerance rules ARE color blind. Rather than outrage being directed at the policies, why doesn't the NAACP look within it's community to address the behavioral problems and lack of discipline. Where is the personal responsibility. The State of Minnesota expends more dollars per student of color than it does on caucasion students. It doesn't matter how much money you spend the break down of the family and the acceptance of the "Baby Daddy" status within the black community is creating a cultural hinderance much more than any Jim Crow law ever could. For the NAACP and the Obama Administration to set forth guidelines calling policies which are race neutral as "discriminatory towards people of color" is not only disengenuous but it's sadly funny. The NAACP needs to stop pointing fingers and look within.

eman2001Jan. 12, 14 9:42 PM

You have to wonder what the classroom atmosphere is like for the kids who behave and want to learn.

just6larJan. 12, 1410:24 PM

OK, this is coming from a teacher who teaches middle school in a district not that different from St. Paul. There is a HUGE push to keep these disruptive kids in the classroom. What that means, is that I cannot remove a student from class who constantly interrupts class, harasses other students, and just sits there and refuses to engage in lessons that have been differentiated and modified to try to get them going. I'm not throwing one lesson out there (not a lazy teacher). I'm trying. Hard. And some kids just refuse to do anything. What do they do then? Disrupt the learning environment. This means that less gets done in class, more re-teaching needs to happen, and it SEVERELY HURTS THE LEARNING OF KIDS WHO ARE THERE TO LEARN! That's what these policies are doing. Hurting the 90% of kids who want to learn, and want to try. So what do I do in the classroom? I call home. I email. I change assignments to make them easier, more interesting, or more manageable. All get zero results. I can't make kids care, especially when parents don't care. They have them at home for 6+ hours each day. I have them for one. I cannot reverse the damage disengaged parents are doing to these kids. Unfortunately, I would say about 60-70% of these students are students of color. Why do we never try to address the home problem? Parenting problems? I guess I, the teacher, must be the easy out, to say that I have classroom policies that disenfranchise students of color, and therefore, need "training". Great teachers can't survive in these environments, which is why it's tough to retain great teachers in these schools.

just6larJan. 12, 1410:28 PM

Single parent families by race. Asian - 17%, White - 25%, Hispanic - 42%, American Indian - 53%, African American - 67%. The story said the lowest rates of suspensions were Asian, then White, and the most were American Indian and African American. See any relationship?

forpeopleJan. 12, 1410:51 PM

To see the total picture, we need to look at the unemployment rates for Asians, whites, Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans. When we look at the unemployment rates we see which families are likely to be highly stressed. Unfortunately, stressed families are unlikely to do as well teaching their children.

and another thingJan. 12, 1411:08 PM

A courageous conversation would involve all stakeholders, including parents. Responsible parents of ALL colors want teachers who have high expectations. High expectations refer not only to academics, but also to behavior. When a kid is disruptive, he/she needs to be removed. The issue is of WHY the kid is disruptive, not that he/she needs to be removed. Nine times out of ten, the kid is confused, is dealing with trauma, or someone at home doesn't set limits on behavior. This is where a courageous conversation comes in-how can parents and educators work together? Labeling teachers racist for suspending kids of color is about the most condescending thing you can do to the community of's like teachers should EXPECT kids to act the fool. Embarrassing or completely dishonest.

minn12Jan. 13, 1412:56 AM

More 'feel good' nonsense. As the teacher who posted above infers, you cannot let the inmates run the asylum. Race should not be a factor whatsoever. Have clear behavior standards in schools. ANYONE who violates them should be disciplined. Repeat, or violent incidents should result in suspensions or expulsions. I couldn't believe what I read, when the article said principals are being PAID to reduce suspensions. They should be paid instead to make sure there is a great learning environment in classrooms for those who want to learn. That would be like paying the County Attorney not to file charges against lawbreakers of a certain race, because too many of them are committing crimes. Would anyone tolerate that? I doubt it. Why should such ridiculous policies be tolerated in our schools?


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