At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Get Schooled blog, Maureen Downey writes that the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice released a report Wednesday called "Effective Student Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class" highlighting inequities in disciplinary actions among different ethnic groups, particularly out of school suspensions.
The report found that in some Georgia schools, out of school suspension is imposed on upwards of 20% of the school's students and that African American students are three times more likely to be given such a sentence. Some takeaways:
— In the 2009-2010 academic year, 8.1% of Georgia students received at least one out of school suspension.
— Schools with high graduation rates have low out of school suspension rates; schools with high out of school suspension rates have lower graduation rates.
— 69% of out of school suspensions were given for non-violent actions.
— Students eligible for free or reduced lunch were more than twice as likely as other students to be given out of school suspension.
The report used Department of Education discipline data and interviews with 200 stakeholders to examine the role of discipline in Georgia's schools.
Downey writes that discipline issues seem to vary from classroom to classroom, even when teachers are dealing with the same kids:
"What has always amazed me is the difference among teachers in discipline referrals. There are teachers who hardly refer any students in their class. But that same group of kids can cross the hall and prove overwhelming for another teacher."
In the Ledger-Enquirer, Sharon Hill of the Georgia Appleseed Center writes that there is some good news in the depressing report:
"The good news is that there is increasing evidence that several alternatives to out of school discipline practices can work to maintain order and a safe school environment while keeping kids in class. Approximately 250 schools in Georgia are implementing proactive school-wide approaches to discipline with very promising early results.