Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure

13 Dec

One of the causalities of the decline and death of newspapers is the decline in investigative journalism. When the Seattle PI was still a print publication in 2001, they published a series of articles about discipline in the Seattle Public Schools. At that time, the list of behaviors included:

                                              1.   Disruptive conduct

                                              2.   Fighting

                                              3.   Disobedience

                                              4. .Assault

                                              5. Rule-breaking

                                              6. Alcohol/drugs

                                              7. Theft

                                              8. Trespass

                                              9.   Smoking

                                              10. Weapons

When this report was written, African American students were suspended at a higher rate than other students. The great thing about this piece of journalism was the reporters examined assumptions about what could be causing the disparity in expulsions. The assumptions about why African American students are disciplined and the statistical reality often do not provide clear-cut answers. The Seattle PI followed the report with a 2006 Update and the disparity issue remained. Perhaps, Dr. Bill Cosby is on to something with his crusade to ask tough questions about whether a “hip hop” culture is conducive to promoting success values in a population who must survive in the dominant culture. Debates about what cultural norms are healthy and should prevail are not useful to a child who is facing a suspension or expulsion and who must deal with that reality. It is imperative that children stay in school and receive a diploma or receive sufficient skills to allow them to prepare for a GED. If a child is facing a suspension or expulsion, the parent or guardian has to advocate for the child and the future placement and follow-up treatment for the child. The hard questions about placement in an education setting center on student behavior and whether the behavior of the individual child is so disruptive that the child must be removed from the school either for a period of time or permanently.

Does Hip-Hop Culture Affect Student Behavior?

Gosa and Young’s case study about the oppositional culture of hip-hop is a good description of the possible impact of a certain genre of music on the educational values of the young listeners.

Given the prominent, yet controversial theory of oppositional culture used to explain the poor academic achievement of black youth and recent concerns that hip-hop is leading black youth to adopt anti-school attitudes, we examine the construction of oppositional culture in hip-hop music. Through a qualitative case of song lyrics (n=250) from two of hip-hop’s most influential artists – “conscious” rapper Kanye West and “gangster” rapper Tupac Skakur, we find oppositional culture in both artist’s lyrics. However, our analysis reveals important differences in how the two artists describe the role of schooling in adult success, relationships with teachers and schools, and how education is related to authentic black male identity. Our findings suggest a need for reexamining the notion that oppositional culture means school resistance.

The study gives a good description of oppositional culture, but it is overly optimistic about the role of the market place in promoting the basest values for a buck.

Lest one think that hip-hop culture is simply the province of thugs and low- income urban youth. Think again, there are many attempts to market a stylized version of the culture. A 1996 American Demographics article describes the marketing used to cross-over hip-hop culture into the mainstream.

Many of the hottest trends in teenage music, language, and fashion start in America’s inner cities, then quickly spread to suburbs. Targeting urban teens has put some companies on the map with the larger mainstream market. But companies need an education in hip-hop culture to avoid costly mistakes.

The Scene: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a bastion of the white East Coast establishment. A teenaged boy saunters down the street, his gait and attitude embodying adolescent rebellion. Baggy jeans sag atop over-designed sneakers, gold hoops adorn both ears, and a baseball cap shields his eyes. On his chest, a Tommy Hilfiger shirt sports the designer’s distinctive pairing of blue, red, and white rectangles.

Four years ago, this outfit would have been unimaginable to this cool teen; only his clean-cut, country-club peers sported Hilfiger clothes. What linked the previously preppy Hilfiger to jeans so low-slung they seem to defy gravity? To a large extent, the answer lies 200 miles southwest, in the oversized personage of Brooklyn’s Biggie Smalls, an admitted ex-drug dealer turned rapper.

Over the past few years, Smalls and other hip-hop stars have become a crucial part of Hilfiger’s open attempt to tap into the urban youth market. In exchange for giving artists free wardrobes, Hilfiger found its name mentioned in both the rhyming verses of rap songs and their “shout-out” lyrics, in which rap artists chant out thanks to friends and sponsors for their support.

For Tommy Hilfiger and other brands, the result is de facto product placement. The September 1996 issue of Rolling Stone magazine featured the rap group The Fugees, with the men prominently sporting the Tommy Hilfiger logo. In February 1996, Hilfiger even used a pair of rap stars as runway models: horror-core rapper Method Man and muscular bad-boy Treach of Naughty by Nature.

Suburban normed or middle class youth may dabble in hip-hop culture, but they have a “recovery period.” The “recovery period” for suburban youth means moving from deviant norms, which preclude success into mainstream norms, which often promote success. Suburban children often have parental and peer social pressure to move them to the mainstream. Robert Downey, Jr., the once troubled actor is not necessarily an example of hip-hop culture, but he is an example of the process of “recovery” moving an individual back into the mainstream. Children of color and low-income children often do not get the chance to “recover” and move into mainstream norms. The next movement for them after a suspension or expulsion is often the criminal justice system

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

Donna St. George has written a Washington Post article which elaborates on the Texas study.

In the article, Study shows wide varieties in discipline methods among very similar schools, St. George reports:

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, said Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. “The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact….”

The results showed that suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out or landing in the juvenile justice system. Such ideas have been probed in other research, but not with such a large population and across a lengthy period, experts said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/study-exposes-some-some-myths-about-school-discipline/2011/07/18/gIQAV0sZMI_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion.  Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials.

Additionally, Family First Aid discusses the education questions a parent or guardian should ask when their child has been permanently excluded from a school setting because of behavior problems.

What options are there now that your teen has been expelled?

– Home School? Yes, your teen may get the academics, the grades, and the knowledge. But he will not learn to interact with others in a positive manner, and the original problem still exists.

– Alternative School? The focus at an alternative school is to finish the coursework for graduation. There is no focus on the original problem of why the student could not succeed socially in the regular school setting and again, the original problem still exists.

– Specialty School? There are several different kinds of specialty schools and programs. There are wilderness programs “boot camps” military schools, and religious schools. Some include academics and some do not. Some programs are an intense “wake up call” that last about a month, and others are long term. Some focus only on the child and some involve the entire family in the healing process.

If your child has a behavior disorder, one month of intense “wake up” won’t change anything. It also won’t change the peer group he has or his involvement with drugs and/or weapons.

The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that resulted in the disciplinary action. It is important to contact the district to find out what types of resources are available to assist the student in overcoming their challenges. Many children have behavior problems because they are not in the correct education placement. Often, moving the child to a different education setting is the beginning of dealing with the challenges they face.

See:

Education Law Center

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

10 Responses to “Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative « drwilda - June 27, 2012

    […] When this report was written, African American students were suspended at a higher rate than other students. The great thing about this piece of journalism was the reporters examined assumptions about what could be causing the disparity in expulsions. The assumptions about why African American students are disciplined and the statistical reality often do not provide clear-cut answers. The Seattle PI followed the report with a 2006 Update and the disparity issue remained. Perhaps, Dr. Bill Cosby is on to something with his crusade to ask tough questions about whether a “hip hop” culture is conducive to promoting success values in a population who must survive in the dominant culture. Debates about what cultural norms are healthy and should prevail are not useful to a child who is facing a suspension or expulsion and who must deal with that reality. It is imperative that children stay in school and receive a diploma or receive sufficient skills to allow them to prepare for a GED. If a child is facing a suspension or expulsion, the parent or guardian has to advocate for the child and the future placement and follow-up treatment for the child. The hard questions about placement in an education setting center on student behavior and whether the behavior of the individual child is so disruptive that the child must be removed from the school either for a period of time or permanently. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-educa… […]

  2. A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’ « drwilda - July 1, 2012

    […] Additionally, Family First Aid discusses the education questions a parent or guardian should ask when their child has been permanently excluded from a school setting because of behavior problems. The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that resulted in the disciplinary action. It is important to contact the district to find out what types of resources are available to assist the student in overcoming their challenges. Many children have behavior problems because they are not in the correct education placement. Often, moving the child to a different education setting is the beginning of dealing with the challenges they face. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-educa… […]

  3. Schott Foundation report: Black and Latino boys are not succeeding in high school « drwilda - September 19, 2012

    […] Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  4. Alternative discipline: Helping disruptive children stay in school « drwilda - November 12, 2012

    […] Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion.  Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  5. A possible model for corporate involvement in the inner city: GM and Detroit | drwilda - August 8, 2013

    […] https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  6. Study: Troubled teens likely to be successful entrepreneurs | drwilda - August 23, 2013

    […] Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  7. Important Miranda case involving schools: N.C. v. Kentucky, No. 2011-SC-000271 (Ky. Apr. 25, 2013) | drwilda - September 4, 2013

    […] and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… Schools must balance the need for control and order with appropriate […]

  8. drwilda - December 2, 2013

    […] Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion. Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  9. University of Chicago Urban Education Lab study: Targeted tutoring can reduce the education gap | drwilda - January 28, 2014

    […] https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

  10. Life is not fair: African American men and negative stereotypes | drwilda - May 20, 2014

    […] Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failu… […]

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