April 30, 2013
The Newtown tragedy last December brought to light the vulnerability of public schools across the country. To answer concerns about student and staff safety, many have clamored for the addition of armed guards in every school nationwide. However, research suggests that placing armed police officers in schools may create more issues even as it is addressing the need for student safety. Police presence in schools
may actually increase the number of students in the criminal justice system – often for minor crimes that could have been handled at the school level.
Not a New Idea
Despite the increased rhetoric surrounding police presence in school in recent months, the idea is not new. According to the New York Times
, school districts have been using federal funding and other resources to bring police officers into schools since the 1990s. Known as “school resource officers,” these armed officers typically patrol high schools
and middle schools, but some have been placed in elementary schools as well. Deseret News
reports that the U.S. Department of Education recently found around 28 percent of all public schools report they have an armed security guard on school grounds during class hours at least once a week.
Hundreds of larger school districts, including Los Angeles
, have actually established their own police departments. These departments, boasting thousands of sworn officers and other staff members, are under the direct oversight of district officials. The Los Angeles School Police Department
, which was established...
November 10, 2012
School districts across the country have recently brought disciplinary measures by schools
into focus, in an effort to determine the best way to address discipline problems in schools today. While the large majority of school districts still favor methods like suspension
and expulsion for a wide range of infractions, evidence continues to show these methods are not the most effective option. Should suspension and expulsion be used in public schools today? And if these methods are not appropriate, what are the alternatives? Check out ways some experts and school officials are approaching the issue of discipline in public schools
The Cost of Discipline
One survey recently conducted on discipline in public schools weighed the cost of such procedures. The non-profit organization Texas Appleseed recently released its findings after surveying 11 school districts in Texas to determine how much is spent on disciplinary programs and school security
. According to the Statesman
, the survey found that those school districts, which make up about one-fourth of all Texas schools, spend around $227 million annually on disciplinary procedures and security. This number includes spending on expulsions, suspensions, policing
and alternative schools.
The survey comes at a time when Texas schools are facing significant funding cuts from the state. It was also released in anticipation of a senate meeting involving how to deal with problematic students in public schools. The survey was meant to open discussion on the most effective, and most budget-friendly, ways to deal with students who present discipline...read more
June 25, 2012
With the alarming rise in violence at public schools
across the country, zero-tolerance policies
have become the norm. In theory, these policies should lead to safer schools, since they offer school administrators the ability to deal with infractions promptly and decisively. However, the practice of zero-tolerance policies is showing significant flaws in the system, and many are demanding a reform in the rules that have proven to hurt students more than they protect them in some cases.
The Purpose of Zero-Tolerance Policies
The establishment of zero-tolerance policies began in the 1980s. At the time, these policies primarily dealt with major offenses involving weapons and drugs. The term was first introduced by the Reagan Administration when the President launched his War on Drugs. When the federal government passed the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act of 1989, zero-tolerance policies became the law.
According to the Detroit Free Press
, zero-tolerance policies expanded with the federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, which mandated that any student caught bringing a gun to school would be expelled for one year or longer. Students accused of violations were also to be referred to local law enforcement agencies. However, it wasn’t long before that zero-tolerance policy was expanded to encompass a host of infractions, from dress code violations
to assaults on another student. At that point, many began to question the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies, particularly in situations where the policy began to override common sense and the best interests of the students involved.
The Lack...read more
June 13, 2012
Teachers say students are becoming more unruly and disrespectful. Schools complain that it is getting harder to get parents involved. So what is the solution? Some school districts have turned to handcuffing and police intervention
as a way to get students under control. However, that idea is not setting well with many parents and community members – particularly when it is their own children on the receiving end of the harsh disciplinary measures. After all, what type of message does a school send to students when they are throwing handcuffs on young wrists? In this author's opinion, which is supported by research, it is a message that encourages a vicious cycle of future violence and criminality.
Recent Incident in Mississippi Results in Policy Change
Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi have had a policy that allows handcuffing students to stationary objects as a means of discipline. The policy has been particularly prevalent at Capital City Alternative School
, where teachers and administrators say discipline problems abound. According to a report at the San Francisco Chronicle
, a suit was filed last year in response to this policy, which forced the school district to take another look at their disciplinary measures.
The lawsuit was filed by Jeanette Murry on behalf of her son, who was 16 at the time of the incident and a student at the alternative school. Murry stated in her complaint that school staff would cuff students to poles, tables and other stationery objects – sometimes for hours at a...read more
March 02, 2012
Most educators would agree that the proper amount of discipline is essential to a healthy learning environment. However, the means of achieving that discipline has been a debate that has raged for decades. The latest system implemented in Chicago charter schools
is no exception. Students in these schools pay a hefty price – quite literally – for even the smallest infractions. And while charter school staff members believe that price has resulted in more orderly classrooms and higher student achievement, some parents and students think it borders on harassment.
The Charge for Rule-Breaking
The Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago has implemented a new discipline program that involves fining students for infractions of all kinds. Last year, when the system was first introduced, the Noble school system collected nearly $190,000 for rule breaking that ranged from chewing gum to bringing a cell phone into class
. The money raised went to pay for the after-school detention program and the dean of discipline position that oversees the program at all the Noble schools.
Students caught with shoes untied or shirts un-tucked, chewing gum or using cell phones are given demerits for breaking the rules. For example, an untied shoelace is worth one demerit, while cell phone use costs four demerits. Students who receive four demerits in a two-week period are fined $5 and receive after-school detention. If a student gets a total of 12 demerits in a single school year, he must attend a behavior class over the summer to the...read more
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