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The Unexpected Consequences of School Suspensions

By Andres Garcia, Rosa Solache and Jazmin Jones

On the weekend of July 6, youth from throughout California gathered at the Media Arts Center San Diego for a journalism boot camp hosted by The California Endowment. With the guidance of adult mentors, the youth produced blog, radio and video reports.

Above, youth from Lamont, Calif., and Boyle Heights in Los Angeles draw on their own experiences being suspended and ticketed at school to shed light on the impact of harsh school discipline policies.

State data shows California schools handed down more than 750,000 suspensions in 2009, mostly to males of color. Parents and community organizers say that’s excessive and puts students at risk of dropping out and becoming incarcerated.

Bridget Lambert of the National Conflict Resolution Center is involved with a City Heights effort to improve San Diego Unified’s school discipline policy. She described how school discipline measures can lead to incarceration.

“It affects their connectedness to the community and it decreases their chances of succeeding in school because they’re not in school,” Lambert said. “And then that decreases their opportunity for meaningful employment, going on to college. Ultimately the way that they end up trying to survive – food, shelter, clothing – ends up being with criminal activity.”

A recent analysis of state suspension data by Speak City Heights and the Investigative Newsource revealed that pattern is less prominent in San Diego than in California’s harshest school districts. Even in City Heights, where poverty and language barriers are expected to complicate classroom behavior, San Diego educators suspend less often and rarely for innocuous offenses.

You can read about school discipline elsewhere in the state from youth reporters in the Central Valley and Los Angeles:

A Rash Decision Leads to Expulsion
Denied Opportunities With Hope for a New Possibility
‘I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong’
Opinion: LA’s Police-Oriented Approach to School Attendance Isn’t Working


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2 Responses to The Unexpected Consequences of School Suspensions

  1. SG says:

    If the student does not like school etc., would help if they had (positive) self esteem. If they played a sport good, if they played in band good, if they played in orchestra good – it helps kids stay in school. But after school the kids can’t go running around like chickens with their heads cut off (and probably doing drugs, drinking beer, smoking – anything, and probably having sex). They need to be encouraged to do the ONE thing they are good at, for positive re-enforcement. Euclid Elementary, Horace Mann Jr High, and Crawford Highschool DIDN’T TEACH ME CRAP! In Highschool “they” figured out my reading level was 8th grade due to dyslexia (thank goodness the internet is easier to use for correct spelling than a dictionary for me, and writing is a HUGE stuggle). The schools did not teach anything interesting, and only a few teachers were worth anything. Music kept me in school, I was good at it, and the other stuff was crap I had to take so I could go to music class. Chief Landsdowne and I had a conversation in his office several years ago and he agreed that the schools need to keep music for kids so they stay in school (not everyone can do sports) and graduate and stay out of jail. After looking back the P.E. coaches of mine – did not understand body mechanics and were teaching us stuff that would ruin our knees (girls and racketball). But the bosses of the teachers – were not any smarter, because they let the teachers continue to teach the wrong stuff. What was the first clue, the P.E. teacher that had so many surgeries on HER knee (playing racket ball) that she could not straighten out her leg. Yea that was the paid roll model to teach us sports. Lemmings

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