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Chicago: Quick To Call Police, Slow To Report Data

image from www.chicagonow.com
School safety and discipline issues don't usually get much love from policymakers and professional education pundits -- too gritty, not sexy enough, plus jurisdictional complications between schools and law enforcement.  But safety and enforcement are often a prime point of interest for teachers, parents and students who spend their days in school.  A group in Chicago has put together a study showing that one out of five arrests last year took place on school grounds -- usually a black male student, usually for fighting (rather than assault on a teacher, say) -- and that the school system does not provide data on these incidents to the school community or centrally: Youth advocates want more data on school arrests Catalyst Chicago, Advocates say disproportionate number of black kids arrested WBEZ, In-School Officers Put Teens On Road To Prison Huffington Post.  The report is full of interesting maps and information.  For example, there are two police officers assigned to each high school in Chicago, and principals have resisted giving them up despite financial incentives.  Of course, Chicago isn't the only district dealing with disparities: In Maryland, discipline reform aims to limit students’ suspension from school Washington Post.  In New York City, arrests are supposed to be reported publicly along with suspensions and expulsions.

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Yeah, it is much easier to criminalize misbehavior than to increase the schools all-important suspension numbers. This SHOULD be an obvious opportunity to bring the reform camps together. Invest in the socio-emotional interventions, including high-quality on-site and/or off-site alternative slots, allow schools to enforce their rules without data-driven interference, as a part of teaching students to be students (not punishing or recting out of frustration) and stop criminalizing misbehavior and contracting out punishment instead of building respectful learning cultures.

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