Students of color, those with emotional, behavioral, and cognitive issues, as well as those who identify as gay, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ), are disproportionately affected by discriminatory disciplinary policies in our country’s schools. Due to exclusionary discipline procedures, a sizable portion of these pupils get taken out of class, miss out on educational opportunities, and get suspensions or expulsions from their schools. Concerns regarding fairness and schools’ legal obligation to safeguard each student’s civil rights are raised by the unfair administration of school discipline based on color, ethnicity, sex, or disability.

Too many students of color frequently encounter expulsion from classes due to disruptive conduct. According to several studies, pupils of color are more likely to face disciplinary action for subjective infractions that are not explicitly listed by the school, such as disrespect and insubordination, based solely on the teacher or administrator’s discretion. In contrast, white pupils are more likely to get punishment for objective violations that call for a categorical consequence from the school, such as possessing drugs or a weapon or using profane language. In conformity with common assumptions, the reason why students of color get overrepresented in discipline data is that they are the ones who conduct the majority of violations. This is untrue, much like a lot of other assumptions.

Nationally, suspensions of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students are more common and last longer than those of their White counterparts. Six Black pupils out of every 100 have gotten suspended, which is more than three times the rate for White students. According to research, different teacher and principal disciplinary strategies rather than variations in misconduct rates are what cause these disparities.

The effects on kids, families, communities, and schools as a result of the exclusionary discipline are severe. Education, economic, and social issues may arise as a result of students’ alienation from their educators and the classroom. By destroying their affiliation with the school and removing them from the classroom, exclusionary discipline hinders children’s academic success. Multiple suspensions increase a student’s likelihood of failing classes, leaving school, abusing drugs, and acting out in other ways. These young people frequently have disproportionately high rates of interaction with the juvenile justice system, especially when they get detained at school or sent to court by their teachers. The probability that these adolescents will return to school or graduate might get diminished by this initial engagement since it can lead to further participation in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Exclusionary punishment may thereby contribute to the success difference between White children and pupils of color. 

Eliminating inequity in school discipline is a worthy aim that is possible even though it is difficult. Education research points out how disparities in school discipline can get addressed. One of these methods is using data to find issues and guide decisions. Every state has inequalities in school discipline, but the patterns of inequity vary greatly between districts and among various student categories. The root cause of disciplinary discrepancies may get identified with the aid of discipline statistics, which can also help track the success of certain intervention measures. To detect issues and track the development of school disciplinary changes, school environment teams should routinely evaluate discipline data broken down by race, ethnicity, sex, and disability.

Another method is collaboration and leading by example. The best method to reduce inequalities in school discipline is prevention. Strong leadership and a common goal to advance equity among all employees, are necessary to create and maintain a culture that values diversity. The school environment, staff interactions with students, and teachers’ classroom management strategies are all impacted by the policies and deeds of school administrators. Maintaining a welcoming school environment is a shared responsibility for all stakeholders thanks to the collaboration and active participation of teachers, staff, parents, and students in developing school disciplinary strategies. Involving parents frequently is ideal because parents may contribute to the creation of discipline programs that take into account the requirements of varied student groups. The most effective means of dealing with disciplinary difficulties is to include parents in school activities and decision-making on school development. It’ll help to lower the suspension rates for pupils of color. Teachers that have fewer issues with discipline include parents early by talking to them about discipline concerns before referring their students to the office.

Providing instructors with access to resources and professional development opportunities is also very helpful. Instructors must have the professional development, tools, and support they require to fulfill the needs of their students. All teachers need professional development to use culturally sensitive classroom management and behavior intervention techniques. Teachers of diverse classrooms also need the training to recognize how their own biases could lead them to misread the words or actions of students from cultures other than their own. Improving teachers’ skills in dealing with difficult behaviors in the classroom and prepping school counselors offer behavioral therapy, and any additional assistance can be very productive. 

In addition to training, it’s best to advise educators to build a connection of trust and care with each pupil. If students get along well with teachers, administrators, and other staff members, they are less likely to get suspended. Adults who develop good relationships with pupils get knowledge of their cultural heritages and communication preferences. Additionally, having good connections makes administrators and staff members more aware of prejudice in their attitudes and behaviors that could cause misunderstandings and needless disciplinary measures. Caring instructors should; create an environment in the classroom that encourages students to express their opinions, take initiative to find out about pupils’ backgrounds, recognize each student’s academic and social needs, honor students for their accomplishments in both academics and conduct, and encourage kids that they can succeed.

Successful school leaders implement progressive discipline strategies that place a strong emphasis on teaching kids how to communicate respectfully and responsibly with their educators or classmates. Additionally, they are more likely to have conferences with parents and kids to discuss prevention techniques for discipline issues and to refer students with problems to school counselors. Furthermore, as an alternative to suspension, children can receive penalties like community service which can help to educate them to accept responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, students should learn social and emotional skills to help them know how to interact positively with peers from many cultural backgrounds. According to research, children with abilities in conflict resolution, problem-solving, self-management, and favorably relating to others had fewer discipline issues than students without those skills. The chosen social skills curriculum should be supported by research and delivered by certified teachers, much like the key academic topics. The effective curriculum has clearly defined student goals, active instruction techniques, and progressive training procedures.

The removal of discrepancies in school punishment may aid in closing the performance gaps, given the substantial correlation between lost instructional time in the classroom and academic failure. Despite being difficult, this practice may be stopped with strong leadership and the cooperation of parents, staff members, and instructors. High standards, compassionate connections with their students, and organized learning environments all contribute to teachers having fewer discipline issues. Schools that emphasize social skills instruction, maintain orderly routines and employ a continuum of disciplinary measures also report lower suspension rates. It’s crucial to give instructors the support and tools they need to conduct efficient classroom management. These tools should incorporate methods for instructing social behaviors to kids and professional development in culturally sensitive classroom administration. 

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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