• Discipline,  Equity

    The Need to Look at the Entire Disciplinary Code of Conduct and a Visual Way to Do It

    Recently, Dr. Maida Finch of Salisbury University and I released a report in which we distilled each of Maryland's school districts' codes of conduct into a single visualization. Each is color coded to show alignment or misalignment with state recommendations. The visualizations allow for quick comparisons of disciplinary approaches across districts and to state recommendations.

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Testimony in Support of MD HB950

    Below is testimony I submitted in support of MD HB950, a bill set to increase access to school discipline data and to set a more ambitious target for reducing racial disparities in school discipline. The full text of the bill can be found here. Testimony for the House Ways and Means Committee HB 950 – State Department of Education – School Discipline – Data Collection February 28, 2019 Position: Support I write from the perspective of an educational researcher and as a former public school teacher.  I am currently an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the UMBC School of Public Policy where my research has led to presentations and…

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Just what are ‘zero tolerance’ policies – and are they still common in America’s schools?

    When parents and educators discuss school discipline, one of the things that comes up most are “zero tolerance” policies. This term is often misused and misunderstood, according to new research I published recently. Zero tolerance policies are also thought to be widespread. But, my work and a recent report show they are actually less common than frequently thought.

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Restorative practices may not be the solution, but neither are suspensions

    Proponents of restorative justice suffered a blow recently with the late 2018 release of a much anticipated RAND study of restorative practices in Pittsburgh schools. The study’s results showed restorative practices were not as effective as many hoped – or as they are sometimes portrayed by proponents and in the media. Unlike traditional disciplinary approaches, such as suspension, which remove students from school, restorative practices focus on repairing harm done by getting victims and perpetrators together to talk. The idea is to rebuild and restore a sense of dignity and community. As an educational researcher who studies school discipline, I think it would be misguided to use the study as…

  • Discipline,  Equity,  School Safety

    Recommendation to Give Teachers Guns Misses the Mark

    The Federal Commission on School Safety, which was formed in the wake of several high-profile mass school shootings earlier this year, released its final report earlier this month. The report recommends, among other things, that school districts consider increasing the presence of armed school staff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recommendation has been met with condemnation from both politicians on the left and public commentators. Detractors of the proposal contend that adding more guns to schools is not the solution to preventing violence. That said, the recommendation is not as universally condemned as the media may portray it. A recent poll by PDK suggests that half of the parents of primary and secondary education…

  • Equity,  School Safety

    A school resource officer in every school?

    Less than three weeks after a school resource officer stopped an armed teen who shot two students at a Maryland high school, lawmakers in Maryland voted to expand law enforcement presence in schools statewide. The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan on April 10, requires all public schools in Maryland to have a designated school resource officer, more commonly known as an SRO, or “adequate local law enforcement coverage” by the 2019-2020 school year. Maryland’s bill follows a similiar state law passed in Florida. Additionally, a number of local school districts nationwide are considering or have recently announced expansions of law enforcement…

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Zero tolerance laws increase suspension rates for black students

    The State Senate of Michigan is currently considering legislation that would scale back “zero tolerance” discipline policies in the state’s public schools. Zero tolerance discipline laws require automatic and generally severe punishment for specified offenses that could range from possessing weapons to physical assault. They leave little leeway for consideration of the circumstances of the offense. The bill, already approved by the State House, proposes to add provisions that would consider the contextual factors around an incident, such as the student’s disciplinary history, and would ask whether lesser forms of punishment would suffice.