Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Absurdity Continues...

Last week a note went home to all CPS parents from B3 (Barbara Byrd-Bennett) about discipline in the Chicago Public Schools.  She is bragging on how the number of suspensions are down since the Board of Education revised the Student Code of Conduct in 2012 which moved away from zero-tolerance to focusing on restorative, corrective approaches to discipline. 

Translation:  They went from zero-tolerance to anything goes.  Of course, suspensions are down.  

If there isn't enough chaos with the new "lack of discipline" policy, B3 says they have now created a new comprehension program (SERP) Suspension and Expulsion Reduction Plan. (Just what we need, another meaningless acronym.) More restorative justice and peace circles. I can almost hear Kumbaya in the background.  B3 states that this latest program was created by parents, educators (I wonder who?), and community partners and that this will "move us towards a more equitable approach to student discipline".   

Again, if I may translate...Instead of disciplining students who deserve to be disciplined, now to be "fair", no one will be disciplined. The suspension numbers will look great and the behavior will be abominable.

This past week ISAT tests began in all CPS schools.  At our school, we have a couple of dozen students whose parents opted them out of the test.  These students are taken to a separate room and have to read quietly for the hour and 15 minutes each day. (One test is being given each day, so this will take place for a minimum of 6 days.)  Now, I love reading and I would enjoy having an uninterrupted amount of time during my day to sit and enjoy a good book, but I am not 12 years old.  These students were told that they cannot bring paper or pencil in the room with them. They can bring a book of their choice and nothing else. They were told if they talk during this time, they will be given a Saturday Detention (which is 2-3 hours long).  

It is obvious where the priorities are here.  You misbehave, break rules, cause destruction in the school and disrupt the educational process for your peers, and your consequence is a big bag of nothing.  Parents opt their children out of a test that has no value for those children (except practice for the next "real" test), and those children are threatened with a Saturday detention if they even talk in a room where no testing is going on.

If only CPS would run their detention rooms and suspensions like they are running their opt-out test rooms, we would have a lot less behavior issues to deal with in school.


  1. Hmm. I was wondering how the new programs are going. Not so well, I guess. But one of my editing clients was wondering if a teacher could ask her class a question about reading preference. She has a book about bullying with a dog superhero and was told the dog shouldn't talk or be a superhero except in his owner's mind. Are you allowed to ask your students things not related to common core? Or is bullying as a subject enough to make it okay to ask--or even read the book? I'm at a loss because I love the dog as is: a superhero.

    1. I am sure it depends on the school and how indoctrinated they are with Common Core. At my school, this year, we are still able to pick out the novels we read with the students and ask them questions in addition to what is expected for Common Core. I don't know if that will be the same for next year as we are supposed to get a new Common Core reading series. :( Bullying is a very popular subject these days, I can't see why teachers couldn't ask the question even if they can't read the whole book in class. Maybe they can use it as a read-aloud. Since bullying is so prevalent these days, even counselors might be interested in the book you're talking about. I hope this helps.