Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Policymakers seek alternatives to police, ticketing for public-school discipline

Mike Ward at the Austin Statesman had coverage of the joint Senate Criminal Justice/Education Committee meeting on school discipline ("Senators delve into school discipline, find unfair practices," Oct. 30), which included this notable tidbit:
In a daylong hearing, members of the Senate criminal justice and education committees listened to testimony from more than two dozen witnesses who said that discipline is being too harshly applied in some school districts, that it is being unfairly applied and that tens of thousands of teen-aged students are unwittingly getting criminal records for minor rules violations.

Under state law enacted in the 1990s, school districts can have police departments that can write tickets to students without even witnessing the crime.

Teachers and advocacy groups testified that what started as a safe-schools program has gotten out of control. Police organizations complained they are tired of writing Class C misdemeanor tickets. Courts officials called for reforms.

Last year alone, more than 953,000 students last year ended up facing police tickets and fines, kicked out of classes or school, even arrested for disciplinary violations. More than 120,000 of them got tickets.

According to a study by the Council of State Governments that tracked 928,000 Texas students from seventh to 12th grade from 2000 to 2007, African-Americans were more likely to be disciplined than other students. Eighty-three percent of African-American males picked up at least one “discretionary” violation — the least serious, mostly for minor rules violations —and one fourth of them received 11 or more.
See additional coverage from the Texas Tribune. Meanwhile, Curt Olson at Texas Watchdog has a related story about a pilot program at Waco ISD aimed at reducing the issuance of tickets at schools. Under the program, students who
used to be slapped with police citations and sent before a judge. Now, teachers and students are trying to address situations on campus through a program called Suspend Kids to School. The program is aimed at preventing students teetering on the edge of suspension or expulsion from landing in alternative education programs.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Criminal Justice Division picked Waco ISD for the $600,000 pilot project because it has its own police department, officers were ticketing students for behavior issues and Waco has close proximity to Austin. If Perry likes what he sees when a report on the program emerges from Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute, state leaders may reform zero tolerance laws adopted in the mid-1990s.

Under Suspend Kids to School, teachers receive training to better manage their classrooms, and leaders among students receive training in peer mediation and campus teen courts. The district also has a Saturday course to help parents address student behavior.

The early signs have proven positive.

The number of students referred to alternative school has dropped dramatically. The district referred 104 students to Challenge Academy, the county’s alternative education program, last school year, Waco ISD spokesman Dale Caffey said. So far this year Waco ISD has referred three students and estimates that with the reforms the district will refer 22 students total this year.

The number of citations for Class C misdemeanors dropped 42 percent in 2011-12 compared to a year earlier, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.
RELATED: See an extensive new report released this week titled "Breaking Rules, Breaking Budgets" (pdf) on school discipline from Texas Appleseed documenting the costs to eleven Texas school districts. Grits may have more to say about this document after I've had a chance to read it for myself.

MORE: See a related policy brief (pdf) from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.


John C. Key MD said...

Hope these alternatives are successful--both citizens and politicians my learn that there are a lot of areas that work better without police involvement .

jdgalt said...

Count yourselves lucky. In Oakland, CA, courts imposed a quota system on schools that discipline black kids more often than white ones.

It's high time for a Civil Rights Reform Act spelling out that "disparate" treatment EARNED BY BEHAVIOR is not racism -- FORBIDDING IT IS.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Policymakers seek alternatives to police, ticketing for public-school discipline

Policymakers seek magic wand to cure the broken homes of Texas. Policymakers seek to solve single parent homes in Texas. Policymakers seek to increase parental involvement in schools.


Agree we don't need the police in schools.

Just another reason why more and more private schools are on the horizon. Will see how you folks take care of the problem then. Should be entertaining to watch Grits lead the charge.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So, 5:59, you agree no police in schools but scoff at any suggested alternative? Pathetic. Also, I don't need to lead the charge if Waco is doing it, but I don't consider that a particularly liberal jurisdiction.

JDG, I personally don't care so much about the racial disparity as the sheer volume. Like the drug war, the problem to me isn't that black folks are affected disproportionately as that the enterprise has scaled up into a massive, self-sustaining government bureaucracy, which is what's happened with law enforcement and school discipline via the state's misguided effort to criminalize juvenile behavior. This is actually an area, again, like the drug war, where conservatives and liberals generally can agree on policy suggestions but with different motivations, which is often the sign of a flexible, pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach.

Anonymous said...

How much time, money and energy are we going to waste on all of this new age, "feel good," educational gobbledy-gook?

How about we just go back to whipping their little asses like we did--effectively--for generations? No tickets. No criminal records. No problem!

Texasred said...

I don't remember any of these any of these issues being a problem when the solution was simply to take the "offender" out in the hall,bend him over and whack his butt a couple of times.No Fuss...No Muss,it was over with in two minutes.
If a student didn't want to be snickered at or ridiculed they simply did not misbehave.

Anonymous said...

"How about we just go back to whipping their little asses like we did--effectively--for generations"

Combining this with John David Galt's point, why not just go back to segregation "like we did--effectively--for generations" and keep black kids completely away from the white ones. Then you can use beatings for the black kids and have the white ones in schools where parents can object to and stop the state from hitting their kid.

Texas Moms United said...

It's really illogical to expect school and security personnel who've been through the underfunded, under-performing Texas school systems to behave intelligently when dealing with discipline problems. The only thing a lot of them can think to do is hit (or shoot)someone when they don't like what they're doing. They don't have the critical thinking abilities to solve problems, and since they can't hit kids anymore, the slap them with tickets. Surprise, surprise. It takes a certain IQ level to do something better.

Texas Moms United said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Over zealous use of well meaning regulations and police enforcement - say it isn't so! Guess we will have to depend on being politically correct to fix it.

rodsmith said...

What cracks me up is your all talking about this. But missing the big point.


"Under state law enacted in the 1990s, school districts can have police departments that can write tickets to students without even witnessing the crime"

This is not even CLOSE to legal. Hell they can't even do a speeding ticket on the street this way. If the officer who saw the crime did not write and sign the ticket is's JUNK.

That one went all the way to the USSC over the use of airplane spotters who call them in and had a cop on the ground write em up. 1,000's got tossed. Now they have to guide a ground trooper in place who then watchs and does thier own clocking ...THEN writes the ticket.

I'd have told the school officer to shove his/her ticket up their ass where it belongs with the rest of the crap.

and i STILL hate this new retarded capcha crap

Stephanie said...

I honestly try to read these posts with an open mind and respond with a level of civility but those who want to go back to the "good old days" of corporal punishment are simply engaging in some kind of Norman Rockwell wistfulness that has no grounding in fact -- either then or now. Corporal punishment has never been effective and those who correlate its use with a time when discipline problems were fewer are the same folks who think the rooster causes the sun to come up in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately when the "children of color" as some people put it at the hearing are the ones who actually cause the most disruptions in the classroom how can we ignore it? That is indeed reverse racism. As a black teacher I took it personally when a black student was acting out and the others were not but I didn't hesitate to delve the exact consequenses I would have to a Hispanic or Anglo child. We need to change the culture at home so it does not spill over into the schools and the streets.

Anonymous said...

Parents will eventually be given vouchers and allowed to decide where they want there kids to go to school; private vs. public.

You public school advocates with all of your Royce West reforms can tend to the incorrigibles then.

Anonymous said...

9:54, that sounds basically like 10:42's comment. Thank you, though, for identifying vouchers ("school choice") as the mechanism for accomplishing it. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame the students for what they do. I blame the teachers.

Anonymous said...

'Corporal punishment has never been effective and those who correlate its use with a time when discipline problems were fewer are the same folks who think the rooster causes the sun to come up in the morning."

I couldn't disagree more. Corporal punishment can be effective if used sparingly and appropriately. In one of my psychology classes in college, Behavior Modification, the professor who taught that had authored a book on the subject of discipline. He recommended that is be used only for direct defiance and safety issues.

Part of the problem today is that kids have no fear of their parents or other authority figures. When I was in school that fear of the paddle kept us in line. And the fear of getting our butts whooped when we got home kept us from getting in trouble in school. Kids today know their parents can't touch them and many of them run the show. They have no respect for their parents or any other adults. Its a generation of spoiled brats. By failing to discipline (I'm using that term as broader than just physical disipline) we are actually doing more harm to our kids. Kids need discipline. But instead we are indulging them. The kids will ultimately pay the price.

Anonymous said...

This is a little off subject but since someone mentioned vouchers - I think we should do away with public schools altogether. Let teachers become entrepeneurs. Give parents vouchers for each class their child needs - i.e. 6th grade Science, 8th grade Math, etc. Then teachers could offer classes in their particular subject area. The parent would pick the teacher they want and give them the voucher. If teachers chose they could associate with other teachers and form a school, or they could just offer the one class on their own and parents could choose classes a la carte. Of course, the teachers unions would never go for this idea. But, this would put parents in control of their child's education and free teachers from the bureacracy of the current public school systems.

Anonymous said...

You tell 'em 9:03, Everyone Get's A Trophy, right?