For everyone else, this is a long one. Buckle up.
Think about what suspension means. “This child needs to be removed from school because we don’t know how to fix them.” Sound about right? Ever felt this way about a kid? I have.
The important part of that thought is the “don’t know how” part. There are plenty of teachers that will admit they don’t know how to reach a child. There are far fewer that will also acknowledge that there is a way. There are fewer still that will actively seek out a better solution. The smallest number of teachers are the ones that are willing to take a risk on that new method. That’s what Trustee Solis and those who are in favor of removing suspensions are up against.
Why does this school of thought exist? There are many teachers who have been in Dallas ISD for decades, some of which I consider close personal friends, that see this and many other changes in DISD as a fad that will past if they dig in long enough. History has proven them right. There are others that think the best way to fix a kid is to force the parents to act. “You want to fix that kid? Send him home and that messes up “mama time.” That'll get their attention.” That’s a real quote I wrote down in my first year of teaching. Other teachers just don’t think it will work and are reluctant to try because they have tried things in the past, they didn’t work immediately, and they went back to a strategy they were comfortable with.
I understand the logic behind all of these reasons and the ones that I didn’t list. Why? Because if you believe it and it is real to you, then it’s real, so you have to accept and respect that first before you start trying to change this. It is unrealistic to ask an adult to stop thinking about their own well being or that of their family and care about some kid they just met this year. That’s not what I’m asking. What I am saying is that there is a benefit in thinking about how to solve difficult problems because it will be better for both you and your students. Caring about the condition and well being of teachers is important and essential no matter how you cut it. Where does that go too far?
“I don’t want to take away tools from teachers.”
I’ve said before that this argument smacks of someone who has never been a teacher, but allow me to correct my position. There are many teachers who believe that suspension is a tool. My clarification is that there is no answer that is more damaging to children or communities of color than this one. The idea that the way to deal with problems is to hide them, isolate them, remove them, or ignore this is from the same school of thought that justifies hitting kids, discriminating against people, and labeling entire parts of our population and city as damaged, deviant, and beyond salvation.
Suspension isn’t a tool, it’s a white flag.
Trust me, I’ve waved it. I’ve also seen the kids I refused to help end up dead or in jail. Is it hard work? Yep. Do I have time to do it? Nope. Not by myself, at least. That’s why I think Dan Micciche is on the right track by saying “ISS needs alternative discipline tools.”
Things that worked back in the day aren’t working today. The current state of our communities and our district are related, at least in part, to the use of these strategies over the past decades. The current policy is bad for Black and brown children. Black children are suspended more than any other group of children and it starts before they can even reliably spell their own names.
Saying you think change is needed but that you don’t like the ideas being proposed is one thing. Saying that without actively searching for a new solution or proposing one yourself is the same as supporting a system that has crippled the Black community in Dallas. Leaders find solutions. They don’t wait for a perfect one to fall in their lap. That’s why they are elected leaders, to lead.
Suspension in early childhood creates a pattern is misbehavior, academic underachievement, and stigma in the eyes of teachers that culminates in a higher percentage of those kids dropping out or ending up in jail. I'll let the number guys handle that. I'll just continue being fired up and ranting about it.
We can’t keep putting our kids last. We can’t keep abandoning our kids. The time is now to fix it.
Follow us on Facebook; Twitter; iTunes; Soundcloud; Stitcher
Suspending Dallas ISD Kindergartners is Absurd
The Dallas ISD Teacher "Toolbox" doesn't need kindergarten suspensions
Why "Back in My Day" is bad for Dallas ISD Students
Labeling Dallas Students Creates More Issues than it Fixes
Kicking out Dallas Students Hurts Everyone
Dallas ISD Students Drop Out
Dallas ISD News and Politics Rundown - June Week 1