Bruno: School Discipline Doesn't Have To Be Complicated
In the past, I've expressed my skepticism about school-wide discipline initiatives like Restorative Justice that may be too complex to implement effectively. A recent Education Week commentary by Los Angeles Unified assistant superintendent Earl Perkins gives us a good opportunity to remember that we shouldn't make school-wide discipline issues more complicated than they need to be.
According to Perkins, LAUSD has seen a 43% drop in student days lost to suspension after adopting a district-wide framework for school discipline. The plan is striking in its simplicity: students are taught and rewarded for good (or "positive") behaviors, expectations are consistently enforced school-wide, and interventions are "tiered" so that the students who struggle most with the rules receive the most support (or, in some cases, more severe consequences).
What Perkins is describing is "Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports,"a well-established school-wide disciplinary program. It probably sounds commonsensical, and it is. That's one reason I've mentioned it favorably in the past: it doesn't in most cases require a radical departure from what schools and teachers are already doing, it only requires a concerted effort to do those things better.
Keep an eye on PBIS-type programs, which seem to be proliferating rapidly - at least in California. Not only is LAUSD implementing the program, my current school (not in LAUSD) uses it and my previous school in Oakland just began implementation as part of a district-wide experiment with both PBIS and Restorative Justice. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)