How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Three California bills take aim at school suspensions, which disproportionately affect students of color

Last month, a federal Department of Education report that looked at public school discipline quantified a disproportionate amount of discipline aimed at students of color, with black students, especially boys " and to a lesser degree, Latino students " subject to more suspension, more expulsion, and when they are disabled, more physical restraint than their white peers.

The zero-tolerance policies that have spread in public schools in the last decade have often been cited as a reasons for the rise in suspensions and expulsions, with students punished for lesser offenses that can range from dress code and cell phone violations to what's referred to as "willful defiance."

This, explains Tami Abdollah of KPCC's Pass/Fail education blog, is "an often very subjective classification that includes behavior such as failing to bring materials to class, not paying attention or talking back." She lists a series of California Assembly bills that seek to reduce school suspensions and create better accountability for discipline, including a bill that would reduce defiance-related suspensions. The bills cleared a committee vote earlier this week. They are:

These include AB 2242, which seeks to reduce out-of-school suspensions for students under the category of "willful defiance," an often very subjective classification that includes behavior such as failing to bring materials to class, not paying attention or talking back. The bill would limit the use of such suspensions and instead have students sent to an in-school supervised suspension classroom.

...SB 1235 would require schools that suspend more than 25 percent of their students to adopt evidence-based, school-wide behavior strategies that work to improve the school climate and reduce that suspension rate.

And AB 2145 works to create accurate data reporting on California school discipline so as to determine what is or is not working.

Read more at: www.scpr.org

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