There is no evidence that frequent reliance on removing misbehaving students improves school safety or student behavior. -- Skiba & LosenRahm and spin team at CPS are cheering the good news. District leaders are claiming that they've expelled and suspended fewer students last school year than the year before. But are their claims real? Partly yes and partly no. Is there much to cheer about? Uh uh.
They've been on a push to reduce school suspensions and expulsions since 2014, when Pres. Obama and the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder released a set of guidelines warning schools that disciplinary policies could not have a “disparate impact” on minorities. Disgraced CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett did lead a push away from the district's horrible "Zero Tolerance" policies, giving more discretion to principals and school staff is deciding who when to suspend/expel. But African-American and Latino students still are suspended and expelled at extremely higher rates than white students to the point of absurdity.
The numbers tell the story. Let's start with expulsions. Can you believe that not one white student was expelled from CPS last year? Compare that with black students who account for 39% of CPS students (district-run and charters) but 68% of 61,349 suspensions and 81% of expulsions in the 2014-15 school year.
White students, made up about 9% of enrollment but just 3% of suspensions and zero expulsions.
Latino students fell somewhere in the middle.
At charter schools, for example, black students accounted for 82% of expulsions, up from 77% in 2013-14, while in district-operated schools, expulsions of African-American students fell to 76% from 87%.
That shows little has changed since this report came out in 2014 showing charters expelled 61 of every 10,000 students while the district-run schools expelled just 5 of every 10,000 students.
CPS says it has continued to invest in “restorative justice” programs that coach and counsel instead of just punishing, though the Chicago Teachers Union has questioned the depth of the district’s commitment to the idea. I don't see much when I'm out in the schools.
The district also says it is working with charter operators to train them in the same practices that are keeping CPS students in classrooms — but it cannot under state law require them to change their discipline practices.
Hey wait. I thought district schools were supposed to be learning from the charters.