When we punish students by kicking them out of school for nonviolent infractions, we’ve lost the opportunity to instruct them. But when discipline practices change, students’ outcomes change—for the better.
We actually did it. After the debates, public hearings and letter-writing campaigns, advocates for school disciplinary reform heard a decision from the Maryland State Board of Education that was three years in the making. The Board decided to eliminate zero tolerance policies and enact a common-sense approach to school discipline.
Relying on suspending or excluding students doesn’t get to the root of behavior problems or make them more interested in school. But a new video, Up for Debate, shows how the Baltimore Urban Debate League has helped students become motivated learners. Watch the video.
Five years ago, fresh out of college, I taught my first creative writing workshop in a Baltimore school. That very first day—nervous, young, worried that the kids would see through my lack of expertise—I met a child who lived to write.
We give young people the tools to express emotions that cannot be put into words. We help them understand empathy, and what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes.
We know from experience—and research—that using suspension as a primary discipline tool is a recipe for school failure. When children are suspended, they are not in school learning, they are not being coached to adopt new and better ways of responding to conflict, and they are not being required to make amends for their misdeeds.
There are more than 600 kids in Baltimore this summer who are proving there’s a sustainable way to solve a national problem—reducing the educational disparities between rich and poor children.
My embracing of the notion that showing up is half the battle results from my own childhood battles with absenteeism. Like many Baltimore students, school attendance was a challenge for me; I became a habitual truant and dropped out. After a year out of school, a series of personal struggles helped me realize that a better life was only possible through education.
I was born in a refugee camp in Nepal. I never imagined I would go to college because the camp only offered 1st to 10th grade.
For the last fifteen years we’ve helped launch programs, some that have floundered and many that have flourished. Given the urgency of the issues we address, we’re very willing to take on risk and, with our partners, try new approaches. We’re here to test what’s possible and create new pathways to opportunity and justice. Fifteen years is a blip in time for our undertaking. We’re in it for the long haul—because, sometimes, it’s not until years later that the change for which we advocate is proven as the right road taken.