The primary goal in education is to keep children in the classroom. In recognizing this, the Maryland State Department of Education recently adopted new disciplinary guidelines to address the high number of out-of-school suspensions.
There were 42,000 suspensions or expulsions last school year, according to a 2012-2013 report from MSDE. That’s 42,000 children likely sitting at home, likely ignoring schoolwork. While it should not be as big of a concern, it certainly should be taken into account that parents are inconvenienced by this as well, having to make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on the child who isn’t attending school.
Of course, some instances warrant a child being removed from the school, especially when the safety of others is at stake, but not every child poses a dangerous threat to themselves or others in the school building.
However, it can be a delicate balancing act as to when the school system needs to step in and punish children for other infractions.
It should not have taken highly publicized incidents to make state education officials look at suspensions. All they had to do was look at the numbers and see something was wrong. While graduation rates statewide increased, there still are individuals falling through the cracks.
We understand that not every child can succeed in a classroom setting, but they need to be given every chance to try. Sending them home as punishment for minor infractions is like the Bill Cosby joke where his wife scolds him. Upon seeing his faux pas, “my wife sent me to my room … which is where I wanted to go in the first place.” A few children will do silly things to get in trouble and get a couple days off school. Schools just can’t let them get a minivacation.