A recent article, highlights the fact that both charter and traditional schools have a suspension problem. While many ascertain that this problem is associated with the behavior of the students there is a need to consider other factors. The suspension problem for both traditional and charter schools is associated with the same school cultural challenges that contribute to high suspension rates in all schools.
According to the article, All Public Schools Have a Suspension Problem. And It Hurts Students of Color and Students with Disabilities, Nat Malkus indicates in the RealClearEdication that charter schools minimize the school suspension problem. This minimization is a true cover-up to characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization. According to the UCLA Civil Rights Project, charter schools are suspending significantly more students when compared to traditional schools and there exist impending lawsuits in Houston, New Orleans, and New York City.
It is only a matter of time before we eliminate the need for charter schools that have the inability to service children of color. Without charter schools there is no school choice. Without choices the problem that both traditional and charter schools present to Black students will continue.
What school elements continue to contribute to discipline problems in traditional and charter schools?
First we need to begin with the school culture. This is a major difference between a traditional and charter school. Charter schools are provided the leverage to implement different curricular activities as part of the charter. However, what they do have in common is the teacher. And even though charter schools supposedly have a different process for teacher selection, teachers continue to dominate classrooms with their values.
One of the primary areas that continue to contribute to high suspension rates in charter and traditional schools is non-verbal behavioral expectations. Education is a communication process that is not limited to transmitting knowledge but also involves nonverbal behaviors that are the major aspects of interpersonal relationships, which are critical in all learning situations. The teaching-learning process is essentially a communication event that includes nonverbal communication. Teachers and students are nonverbal message senders and receivers. Developing respectful relationships with students requires considerable knowledge of their verbal and nonverbal communication styles.
Nonverbal communication includes three interacting systems, the visual, auditory, and invisible communication systems. Auditory communication involves loudness, pitch, rate, duration, quality, regularity, articulation, pronunciation, and pitch. Visual communication is the most important nonverbal communication system, and includes kinesthetic, proxemic, and artifactual subsystems. Kinesthetic communication includes facial expression, eye behaviors, gestures, and posture. Proxemic communication involves the use of space, distance, and territory for communication purposes. Artifactual communication involves facial and bodily appearances and the options that communicators use to alter their appearance. Individuals who nonverbally communicate in a manner consistent with a culture are perceived as more interpersonally attractive by members of that culture. Teachers who identify, analyze, and modify, if necessary, their nonverbal behavior improve their effectiveness. Teachers can learn to become effective by attending and completing a teacher preparation programs offered at colleges.
The primary function of teachers’ nonverbal behavior in the classroom is to improve the students liking for the subject matter, the teacher, the school, and class. When the teacher uses non verbal behavior to improve the linking for the subject matter improves the students are more likely to listen more, learn more, and have a more positive attitude about the school and the teacher.
Positive teacher non-verbal behavior has an impact on students. Students who perceive that teachers feel favorable toward them will demonstrate desired classroom behaviors. Students are more likely to complete assignments in classes that they feel accepted by the teacher.
Nonverbal behavior also includes teacher-student physical attributes. In school settings, teachers seem to expect physically attractive children to be more successful, academically and socially. Because of this expectation, a physically attractive child often becomes the teacher’s pet. Students in secondary school settings perceive that dress affects intelligence and academic potential. Taller males and females are perceived by children as stronger when compared to their counterparts. Without the appropriate assessment of non-verbal teacher and student behaviors, both traditional and charter school will continue to have challenges that will lead to high suspension rates.
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 Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“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