Friday, March 25, 2016

Caution on CCSD's Punishment Statistics

Really, Paul Bowers encourages readers of "District Examines Punitive Policies" to believe the Charleston County School District allows racist punitive measures to predominate its policies. Let's hope he's not drunk the KoolAid left by Diette Courege, she who swallowed every word of CCSD propaganda and thanked McGinley for the experience! A few well-placed questions were certainly in order before the article hit the presses.

Jennifer Coker, previously principal at Daniel Jenkins Academy and West Ashley Middle School, enumerated statistics to a CCSD school board committee earlier this month that she had gathered during her three-month tenure as Interim Director of Alternative Programs. Coker seems convinced that "one size fits all" should be the future of discipline in Charleston County schools. She rails against the idea that assistant principals from 11 different middle schools do not follow the same policy when a student disrupts education. Her attitude assumes homogeneity across their student bodies that simply does not exist. She also assumes that responsibility for disciplinary measures should be removed from the hands of principals. Coker assumes that schools will improve if all codes of conduct are the same. Will they?

Bowers repeats Coker's statement that many district schools have used Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) for more than a decade. PBIS was originally part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, meant for students at risk and those needing special education. Perhaps he was unable to ask Coker why particular unnamed schools implemented the system and what their results have been. Since Coker seems to believe that every elementary and middle school in CCSD should implement a variation of PBIS, statistics on its success in the last decade in those schools are just as important as the ones she uses.

In fact, Coker's presentation suffers from a lack of other relevant statistics. For example, she uses an 18-month period ending in December 2015 as a benchmark for both the 1000 criminal charges brought against students and for the 83% who were black. Why not a year? Why not five years? Historical data IS relevant. While these figures sound horrible, for all we know, they represent an improving picture! Wouldn't it be improved if PBIS has been a success?

The Charleston Area Justice Ministry comes late to the picture and thus has no possible way to make sense of Coker's analysis except through systemic racism. Here's another question: what happened to the 1000 criminal charges? Surely statistics on convictions are also relevant. 

Both PBIS and its more recent twin, Restorative Justice, have both adherents and detractors. Those interested in the argument might peruse the following blog post from Iowa:

From the school board's perspective, disciplinary policies should be evaluated on how they affect academics in the classroom. No one learns when the atmosphere is chaotic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Both the messenger and the message are shaky on this one.