When it comes to punishing black male students, the district's scales of justice tilt toward discrimination. It's time for CPS to publicly recognize that something is wrong, and for CEO Ron Huberman to take it upon himself to address, districtwide, the paradox of black male punishment and performance.Those kindergartners who started school the same year I joined Catalyst graduated this month - or at least the ones who survived the system and earned enough credits to do so. At the current rate, that would be just over half of them, too low a figure to be considered a rousing success. Besides high schools, the other tough nut left uncracked since I've been in this field is school funding reform. In this tough economic climate, progress on this front is beyond the horizon, unless the Chicago Urban League's lawsuit breaks through. (I'm rooting that it will.)So, although I'm signing off and moving on, I will remain fascinated by and connected to what's happening in public schools here, and with education policy across the country. Northern California isn't that far away, and I'm looking forward to continuing the dialogue in the emerging media landscape.
From the Editors Lopsided discipline takes toll on black male students By Veronica Anderson average. Principals at both schools reversed Editor-in-Chief the trend once they zeroed in on the prob- CODE OF CONDUCT lem and embraced alternative discipline CPS policy stipulates the following mitigating A frican-American boys face a pecu- and student motivation strategies that didn’t factors be taken into account when disciplin- liar dilemma in Chicago’s public result in boys missing classes. Rather than ing students: schools: how to get a solid educa- blaming students, these educators took it age, health, maturity, and academic tion when, more than any other upon themselves to look for ways to address placement group of students, they are singled out for behavior issues that ensured students’ aca- prior conduct harsh punishments and sent packing for demic needs were factored in. attitude days, weeks, sometimes months at a time. Here’s what’s at stake: More African- parent/guardian cooperation and/or Some are expelled—even in elementary American male students drop out of CPS involvement school—for a year or longer. Many folks (55 percent) than graduate (40 percent). willingness to make restitution assume that these punishments are Research shows, unequivocally, that stu- seriousness of the offense deserved. Isn’t it true, they ask, that black dents who are absent perform poorly, and willingness to enroll in a student assistance male students are more likely to behave in that suspensions put students at risk for program ways that warrant such sanctions? dropping out. Source: CPS Student Code of Conduct 2008-2009 This wrong-minded logic is endemic in When it comes to punishing black today’s society, where negative stereotypes male students, the district’s scales of jus- of black males are pervasive. While it is true tice tilt toward discrimination. It’s time for resources to raise graduation rates and that black males can be found in the uni- CPS to publicly recognize that something keep students from dropping out. verse of students who behave badly at is wrong, and for CEO Ron Huberman to Those kindergartners who started school school, it is not at all correct to presume that take it upon himself to address, dis- the same year I joined Catalyst graduated this all black males who are suspended or trictwide, the paradox of black male pun- month—or at least the ones who survived the expelled from school deserve what they got. ishment and performance. system and earned enough credits to do so. At The numbers are st
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