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Teachers Union Calls NYC Plan to Ban Suspensions for K-2 ‘Shortsighted’

Teachers Union Calls NYC Plan to Ban Suspensions for K-2 ‘Shortsighted’

The United Federation of Teachers is speaking out against a recently announced plan to ban suspensions for K-2 students in New York City’s public schools.

UFT leader Richard Mantell called the plan, which is part of Mayor de Blasio’s school reform, unrealistic and shortsighted, says The New York Post.

Attempting to reduce disciplinary practices that keep kids out of school has become part of the national agenda, but implementation has proven that doing so is a lot harder than simply banning them.

UFT leaders are concerned that banning suspensions without providing alternative, effective methods of discipline puts both other students and teachers at-risk.

Mantell says that it first must understood “what drives” suspensions, inferring that preventative measures are important, too.

Still, education advocates are increasingly concerned about schools using suspensions and expulsions to discipline students. Research has time and time again proven that minority and special education students are disproportionately disciplined in comparison to their peers, resulting in missed school and what many say is the start of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Districts are changing school disciplinary code to reflect restorative justice techniques in hopes of equalizing opportunity for all students. In several of these districts, however, teachers have publicly argued that a lack of training and alternative measures has left them with their hands tied, unable to control unruly students and giving some validity to the UFT's concerns. 

All hope is not lost, though, because a big change might be in the near future. In February, Hillary Clinton announced that she will be dedicating $2 billion "to reform ...school discipline practices and dramatically expand behavioral support programs for students” if elected into office.

This investment, she believes, will help schools best reform their disciplinary structures by using tools proven to help students work through behavioral issues and succeed.

"A classroom should be a safe place for our children. We shouldn’t even have to say that, I don’t think,” she said.

Not all schools have been unsuccessful in implementing restorative justice out of the gate, though. In an article Education World wrote last November, we took a look at four schools that have experienced success since implementing restorative justice techniques. Important to note is that none of the schools immediately jumped to banning suspensions and expulsions altogether when first making disciplinary changes. 

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

8/10/2016

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