A new report entitled, “The State of the School-to-Prison-Pipeline in the Wake County Public School System,” was released on August 19, 2013 by Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS), a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. Relying on the latest available data (2011-12), the report details the high number of suspensions in North Carolina’s largest school district, and the disproportionate number of suspensions meted out to minority children. Also called out in the report is the troubling fact that “WCPSS is funneling students, particularly students of color, directly into the juvenile delinquency system at increasing and alarming rates.”
Some of the reports findings:
- Long-term suspension rates in WCPSS were among the highest in North Carolina, in part due to the district’s severe shortage of alternatives to suspension (e.g., restorative justice, community service, and mandatory counseling).
- The district had a severe shortage of school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors, with ratios well below national recommendations.
- The alternative schools and programs within the WCPSS are highly segregated, low-achieving and punitive.
- The WCPSS had a massive security presence in its schools – including a Security Department staff, private security guards, and law enforcement officers – yet security personnel lacked adequate training, limitations and accountability, and inconsistencies existed among schools.
- Arbitrary suspension recommendations from an inadequate Code of Conduct are leading to inequitable applications. Nearly all long-term suspensions are recommended to extend through the end of the school year, so two students who commit the same offense may receive vastly different suspension periods depending on when they committed their offense.
Read the press release from Advocates for Children’s Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina.
With all of the teacher bashing that goes on, it’s nice to see facts like this that demonstrate the “above and beyond” dedication of educators.
“Roughly half the amount that the nation’s public school teachers are spending on educational products is being covered with their own money, a new nationwide survey shows.
All told, teachers spent about $3.2 billion on various types of supplies and materials during the 2012-13 academic year, according to the survey, released recently by the National School Supply and Equipment Association. Half that total amount, $1.6 billion, came out of educators’ own pockets.”
New Data Shows School “Reformers” Are Full of It, Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy.
New Report: Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools
Note: See page 4, where Wake County ranks 9 among the top 10 Districts with the Largest Number of “Hotspot” Secondary Schools
In this first of a kind breakdown of data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools, we estimate that well over two million students were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year. This means that one out of every nine secondary school students was suspended at least once during that year. As other studies demonstrate, the vast majority of suspensions are for minor infractions of school rules, such as disrupting class, tardiness, and dress code violations, rather than for serious violent or criminal behavior.
Serious incidents are rare and result in expulsions, which are not covered by this report.
Given the recent research showing that being suspended even once in ninth grade is associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of dropping out, from 16% for those not suspended to 32% for those suspended just once (Balfanz, 2013), the high number of students suspended, as presented in this report, should be of grave concern to all parents, educators, taxpayers, and policymakers.
The idea of giving students a choice of where to go school — with public funds — may sound good, but there are problems attached. The following post explains some of them. It was written by David A. Pickler, president of the National School Boards Association and former chairman and now member of Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education.
Read the entire post here.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called late last month for a moratorium on the high stakes attached to new Common Core-aligned standardized tests. (You can read about that here.) Here’s a piece in support of that call, written by Jeff Bryant, an Associate Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future , who happens to reside in North Carolina.
Great Schools in Wake is among 50+ organizations in North Carolina and around the country that have endorsed a new issue brief released by youth justice advocates. The brief, School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations and Resources debunks common myths driving much of the school safety debate and provides a comprehensive, research-based approach to the issue.
The issue brief was submitted to the N.C. Center for Safer Schools, a state program created in March 2013 that is currently seeking public comment on school safety issues. The authors, Barbara Fedders, a UNC law professor, and Jason Langberg and Jennifer Story, attorneys with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services project, drafted the response out of concern that the school safety debate that has emerged following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is shortsighted, politically driven, unsupported by data and too narrowly focused on physical security.
Click here to download the brief.<http://www.legalaidnc.org/public/learn/media_releases/2013_MediaReleases/school-safety-in-north-carolina.pdf>
“North Carolina’s students deserve thoughtful, comprehensive approaches to safety and well-being—not just politics and sound bites,” said Fedders.
To better inform the debate, the advocates present important and often-overlooked facts about school safety, recommendations for proven methods of ensuring student well-being, examples of reforms from other cities and states, and an extensive bibliography of literature on the issue.
Among the facts about school safety listed in the brief are the following:
* Schools are still among the safest places for children. Serious violence at schools is extremely rare. Children are more likely to be harmed at home or in the streets than in school.
* The presence of school resource officers (SROs)—law enforcement officers stationed full-time in schools—and other security personnel has increased dramatically in N.C. schools since the mid-nineties, despite an absence of credible evidence that they increase safety. What research shows is that the presence of school police has increased arrests and court referrals for minor misbehavior and led to some serious injuries to students.
* Too many students are experiencing out-of-school suspensions for minor misbehavior, a practice which negatively impacts school safety by alienating and frustrating struggling students, preventing students from receiving important services at school, and increasing opportunities for unsupervised students to socialize with negative peer influences.
* Too many students, especially Black students, are funneled into the juvenile system as a result of minor misbehavior, and students age 16 and older who are arrested at school or charged with a crime for something that happened at school are sent straight into the adult criminal system.
According to the advocates, true school safety efforts must aim to protect students’ psychological and emotional well-being as much as physical security, and must be built on a foundation of adequately funded schools and collaborative support from all systems—education, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice—that serve youth.
Jason Langberg notes, “Our comments to the new N.C. Center for Safer Schools not only include recommendations for the most proven methods of ensuring school safety and order, but also strategies that will protect the mission of public schools, promote positive learning environments, and ensure fairness and dignity for students and their families.”
Some of the proposed strategies for promoting school safety include:
* focusing on preventing violence before it erupts by implementing research-based measures such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, smaller classes and schools, highly-trained teachers and staff, and parent involvement initiatives;
* developing a continuum of developmentally appropriate interventions for students that includes adequate numbers of support staff, peer mediation and conflict resolution programs, and non-punitive alternative schools and programs;
* limiting unnecessarily harmful “safety” measures by reducing out-of-school suspensions and ensuring SROs and other security personnel are well-trained, have a clearly defined role, and are accountable to students, parents, school staff and policymakers; and
* conducting an in-depth study of current school safety practices in North Carolina, and regularly collecting and publishing comprehensive data relevant to school safety.
Pre-K is a huge difference maker in a world where family income is a strong predictor of children’s success. Early childhood preparedness is critical if we are to surmount the challenges of poverty.
In the New York Times, Sean F. Reardon writes,
“…much of our public conversation about education is focused on the wrong culprits: we blame failing schools and the behavior of the poor for trends that are really the result of deepening income inequality and the behavior of the rich.
We’re also slow to understand what’s happening, I think, because the nature of the problem — a growing educational gap between the rich and the middle class — is unfamiliar. After all, for much of the last 50 years our national conversation about educational inequality has focused almost exclusively on strategies for reducing inequalities between the educational successes of the poor and the middle class, and it has relied on programs aimed at the poor, like Head Start and Title I.
We’ve barely given a thought to what the rich were doing. With the exception of our continuing discussion about whether the rising costs of higher education are pricing the middle class out of college, we don’t have much practice talking about what economists call “upper-tail inequality” in education, much less success at reducing it.
Meanwhile, not only are the children of the rich doing better in school than even the children of the middle class, but the changing economy means that school success is increasingly necessary to future economic success, a worrisome mutual reinforcement of trends that is making our society more socially and economically immobile.
We need to start talking about this. Strangely, the rapid growth in the rich-poor educational gap provides a ray of hope: if the relationship between family income and educational success can change this rapidly, then it is not an immutable, inevitable pattern. What changed once can change again. Policy choices matter more than we have recently been taught to think.
The bill calls for the following:
- Seven board members elected by district; two members elected at-large. All will ultimately serve four-year terms, beginning in July (formerly December).
- All nine seats will be up for election in 2016
- Candidates who win seats up for election this year (Districts 1, 2, 7, 9) will serve only a two and one-half-year term.
- The terms of board members elected in 2011 (Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, 8) will be extended by seven months.
- At-large seats will be up for election in 2016, then up again in 2018 for a full four-year term.
Senators Josh Stein and Dan Blue both spoke passionately against the passage of this bill. Senator Blue summed it up this way:
“It offends me to the quick. It makes me want to yell.”
Senator Stein commented: ”These maps were drawn without public input, against the will of the school board, and for transparently partisan reasons.” Click here to hear Sen. Stein’s full comments on SB 325.
We must stop this interference in local representation!
- Marilyn Avila – 919-280-6084 – Marilyn.Avila@ncleg.net
- Nelson Dollar – 919-233-8399 – Nelson.Dollar@ncleg.net
- Jim Fulghum – 919-784-0129 – Jim.Fulghum@ncleg.net
- Rosa Gill – 919-821-0425 – Rosa.Gill@ncleg.net
- Duane Hall – 919-582-2111 – Duane.Hall@ncleg.net
- Yvonne Holley – 919-828-3873 – Yvonne.Holley@ncleg.net
- Darren Jackson – 919-733-5974 – Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net
- Chris Malone – 919-395-4903 – Chris.Malone@ncleg.net
- Tom Murry – 919-865-9993 – Tom.Murry@ncleg.net
- Deborah Ross – 919-832-6508 – Deborah.Ross@ncleg.net
- Paul Stam – 919-362-8873 – Paul.Stam@ncleg.net
To email all House members: email@example.com
- This bill was neither requested by citizens nor the Wake County School Board. What happened to reducing “big government?” Passing this bill opens up the floodgates for similar legislation across the state.
- Districts were just redrawn after the 2010 Census. Redrawing them so soon after is costly. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for for new Wake County voter cards (upwards of $200,000) and for costly litigation that is likely to occur.
- The bill does not increase representation for voters, with its two proposed at-large districts. In fact, the chance that children won’t attend a school in the district where their family lives increases.
- Redrawing lines that racially polarize the community does harm to our county. One of the at-large districts proposed creates a minority district.
- Why not support a statewide proposal such as House Bill 606, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, which offers a logical, cost effective approach to redistricting?
By Jason Langberg
It’s difficult to keep track of the unyielding missteps and destruction by North Carolina lawmakers. Their anti-poor people, anti-people of color, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-environment, anti- democracy, anti-public education, anti-gun control, anti-religious freedom agenda has generated widespread outrage and media attention.
But absent from public discussion about their countless failings is a recognition of how their policy agenda will expand North Carolina’s school-to-prison pipeline.
The school-to-prison pipeline is a system of laws, policies and practices that pushes students – disproportionately economically disadvantaged students, students of color and students with disabilities – out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems.
North Carolina has a huge pipeline. Last year, students missed nearly 800,000 school days as a result of almost 260,000 short- and long-term suspensions and languished for hundreds of thousands more days in inadequate in-school suspension rooms and alternative schools and programs.
Law enforcement officers – without adequate training, limitations and accountability – are stationed in schools across the state. Over 40 percent of delinquency complaints are school-based. Thousands of students are becoming court-involved as a result of minor misbehavior at school (e.g., disorderly conduct and truancy) that should be treated as normal adolescent behavior and teachable moments by educators.
If we don’t stop them, the governor and General Assembly will make our state’s pipeline even larger. Four pending bills and the governor’s proposed budget would hurt vulnerable students and make schools and the juvenile and criminal systems harsher, less rehabilitative and more punitive.