A local news story caught my attention this week. I was stunned to discover that the Pittsburgh Public School District suspends elementary students grades K-2 for indiscretions such as not having a pencil, forgetting a notebook or book, and being tardy to school. The story, featured on WPXI. lists these statistics: during the 2014-2015 school year, the district had almost 10,000 suspensions; last year nearly 6,000 suspensions.
Really? Because of forgetting a book or pencil?
The Pittsburgh Public Schools already suffer from negative publicity because of their low test scores. ( http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2016/10/14/Pennsylvania-releases-public-schools-report-cards/stories/201610140085 ) Within the past month, two violent incidents have been reported in the same elementary school, reinforcing the district's negative image. Additionally, although the dropout rate has improved slightly, huge gaps still exist. Absenteeism is high, and 30 percent of high schoolers have been suspended. http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2016/11/22/report-released-on-pittsburgh-public-schools/
So, with all of those HUGE problems, administrators and teachers are worried about kids grades K-2 forgetting books and pencils ???? What planet are they on?
Perhaps one of the reasons for the achievement gap is directly correlated to students in grades K-2 missing classes because of inane suspensions. Young students missing class time are missing the fundamental building blocks for the remainder of their educations.
I was a classroom teacher in two suburban schools for a total of 37 years, and I saw lots of suspensions for violent and inappropriate behavior, but none for forgetting a book or pencil. In my opinion, suspensions merely put students back into a home or street environment, not always the best environment, rather than keeping them in a nurturing environment in school, where issues can be discussed and addressed. Suspensions do not help students to solve problems. Suspensions cause students to get behind in their work, become frustrated with trying to catch up, and in some cases, to finally give up and drop out.
I don't think the Pittsburgh Public Schools are helping students to "remember" better by suspending them. A better solution to address small issues needs to be implemented that will not cause students to lose so much class time for such petty peccadillos.
In my opinion, loss of class time in the early years will lead to more learning issues in later years.
Interested in learning more about this story? See the full story here: http://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/pittsburgh-public-schools-could-change-way-younger-students-are-punished-1/643741020
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
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