Suspensions up one-quarter
Attention, disciplinarians: expect more ‘leadership coaching’
The Madison school board meets tonight (03-05-18) at 6 p.m. to tinker with its Behavior Education plan. Your scholarly Squire will be truant. Like that Broadway diva Lynn Fontanne, he can be bought but he cannot be bored.
Tonight’s session is a scheduled retuning rather than an overhaul in response to Parkland, Florida, or the recent rumbles in the four public high schools (although the district is certainly mindful of them).
But process must be served! Madison’s public schools are committed to an 81-page Behavior Education Plan that makes the federal tax code a Dick and Jane primer by comparison.
The BEP is a triumph of School of Education bureaucracy. Crammed with procedures, steps, student rights, strategies, flow charts, tables, appendices, behavior and risk assessments, resources, restorative collaboration, problem solving circles, regulation breaks, and glossaries. (See Glossary of Terms for the definition of “sexual conduct,” “sexual contact,” and “non-consensual.”)
Tons of process for an ounce of product
It divides student discipline into five “response levels” into which it attempts to pigeonhole a taxonomy of student misconduct. The following is merely an excerpt:
Response Level 1 is used when behaviors are supported within the classroom by staff assigned to that classroom. Response Level 2 is used when the school-wide behavior response system is involved in supporting the student. Support requires an additional staff member and might be provided in the classroom, outside the classroom, or in another environment. The decision by classroom staff to engage the school-wide behavior response system to address a behavior assigned to Response Levels 1 and 2 shall be final when documenting the Behavior Response Level.
If the behavior is assigned two or more Response Levels, the lowest level is used first except for level 1 and 2. A behavior assigned response levels 1 and 2 does not need to be responded to at level 1 prior to being responded to at level 2 …”
It goes on like that for pages! Teachers say they just want to teach! But they can’t teach until they have mastered Behavior Education Plan, advanced level. Indeed, tonight’s tune-up proposes more teacher training for the 10% of teachers who report 41% of all misbehaviors, “thus highlighting a need to engage in leadership coaching to ensure targeted supports to those environments.”
Policy Werkes Translation: Get with the Program, Problem Disciplinarians!
More students are being suspended!
[UPDATE: this section has been corrected to reflect suspensions instead of the originally stated
expulsions.] Student suspensions in the Madison public high schools have actually increased, to our surprise. In the first semester of the current school year, 325 high school students were suspended compared to 275 in first semester 2017-17 (and 272 in 2015-16).
Remarkably, more middle schoolers are being suspended — 327, up from 286 last year and 291 the year before. And middle school has but three grades!
Sadly, 62% of suspensions are “black or African American” although accounting for 19% of the districtwide enrollment. White students comprised 42% of all students but 13% of suspensions. “The trend in disproportionality in incident events has remained steady when looking at race/ethnicity,” the first semester review summarizes.
[UPDATED: The report also looked at “behavior events” across the five response levels of the Behavior Education Plan. Madison schools recorded an astounding 35,386 incidents involving 5,315 students in the first semester, up from 31,056 incidents last year involving 4,789 students. Suspensions (including the same student) across the district totaled 1,122 suspensions compared to 892 last year.]
“Encouragingly,” the school district’s behavior specialists report the proportion of suspensions of African American students to other ethnic groups has declined — by one percent (1%). The adverb “encouragingly” is telling. For Madison Metro Schools continue to fixate on race as much as on behavior.