In a recent article, Colorado Public Schools continue to struggle with ensuring that the implementation of student discipline avoids the pitfalls associated with allegations of racism in their schools. Since the inception of the Every Student Succeeds Act, schools are being held to higher expectations in the area of perceived racism. Colorado Public Schools will continue to have challenges with student discipline until they decide to investigate and respond to all factors that contribute to racism allegations.
According to the article, Years into changes, Colorado schools still struggle balancing discipline, Colorado Public Schools have failed at providing a culture of discipline equity for all students. Since the Columbine High School shootings schools have progressively moved away from zero-tolerance policies. The major complaints regarding zero-tolerance policies is that parents became upset when student discipline resulted in their children missing days from school for infractions such as chewing gum in class or police intervention for children who possessed toy guns.
Denver teachers have expressed concerns regarding the move away from zero-tolerance policies. Union leader Vicky McRoberts voiced the concern of many teachers. She said “When initial policies were changed, many teachers were concerned that disciplinary challenges were simply ignored.” The union is responding by collaborating on a project designed to study and evaluate restorative justice practices”. McRoberts went on to say “we recognize that students need to be in school to get the most from that educational experience, and teachers recognize that suspending or expelling students doesn’t necessarily do anything to change the behavior.” However, “students need to recognize that there are consequences”, said McRoberts.
The approach that Colorado Public Schools has decided to engage in provides two very distinct problems. The first problem is that many programs designed to reduce or provide equity with student discipline equalize the power structure between the student and teacher and therefore leave the teacher powerless.
For example, teachers have the power to assign classroom seating for their students. Teachers assign seating for disruptive students first and then assign students who do not have disruptive behavior to sit next to the disruptive students. When the disruptive student reaches a certain threshold there is an initial demand to comply with the teachers request. Demanding that students submit to the teachers authority may result in increased student disruption, therefore decreasing time spent in the learning process. Normally, student who refuse to comply with a teachers request for compliance are sent out of the classroom. However, with many of the new strategies the student either remains in the classroom or is returned to the classroom with no consequence which reduces the power paradigm and can become a catalyst for other students to become disruptive. It is the same as the domino effect.
The domino effect is the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics).
The second problem is that many of the student discipline reasons for a consequence are unfair to the students due to the initial actions that lead to those incidents.
For example, some in-class arguments between teachers and Black students are a product of the Blacks system of language socialization that involves students talking, which gets others in the group to listen and respond. One of the most common student classroom infractions is talking. Black students are inclined to talk back when motivated by what a teacher says. Black students may become so impressed with the speaker, such as a teacher, that students will want to hear the speaker again due to an interest in how it was said.
Teachers respond to students talking in the classroom without permission by ordering, reprimanding, involving students in work, and naming the student. When a teacher yells, uses harsh words, shames, degrades, or embarrasses a student, such behavior influences all students.
Teachers who use coercion, an attempt to manage students by applying sanctions such as detention, suspension, and corporal punishment, are ineffective when working with resistant students. Resistant students view this as the boss using coercion and become the teacher’s adversaries. Colorado Public Schools must utilize the Raccelerate Racism System and promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships to minimize or eliminate allegations associated with student discipline.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President