The Secret to Fixing School Discipline? Change the Behavior of Adults

Mar. 28, 2013 / By



ACEsTooHigh, News Feature, Jane Ellen Stevens

Photo (above): Andre Griggs, after school program director, Le Grand High School

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is an excerpt of the first of a series of articles about how schools in California are moving from a punitive to a supportive, compassionate approach to school discipline. The full article can be read at ACEsTooHigh.  The series is funded by The California Endowment.

If fixing school discipline were a political campaign, the slogan would be, “It’s the Adults, Stupid!”

A sea change is coursing slowly but resolutely through this nation’s K-12 education system. More than 23,000 schools out of 132,000 nationwide have or are discarding a highly punitive approach to school discipline in favor of supportive, compassionate, and solution-oriented methods. Those that take the slow-but-steady road can see a 20% to 40% drop in suspensions in their first year of transformation. A few — where the principal, all teachers and staff embrace an immediate overhaul — experience higher rates, as much as an 85% drop in suspensions and a 40% drop in expulsions. Bullying, truancy, and tardiness are waning. Graduation rates, test scores and grades are trending up.

The formula is simple, really: Instead of waiting for kids to behave badly and then punishing them, schools are creating environments in which kids can succeed. “We have to be much more thoughtful about how we teach our kids to behave, and how our staff behaves in those environments that we create,” says Mike Hanson, superintendent of Fresno (CA) Unified School District, which began a district-wide overhaul of all of its 92 schools in 2008.

Read more at New America Media

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