A new report from the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research offers a sobering look at racial disparities in disciplinary actions at CPS high schools. Among the findings: 30 percent of high school students with a documented history of being abused or neglected were suspended in the 2013-2014 school year.
College counseling has become more important to high schools since CPS now rates them on the college enrollment and persistence of their graduates. It’s an area in which charters sometimes have a distinct advantage.
Teachers say they have gotten the message that suspension should only be used as a last resort. They say they generally agree with that, but that they also need support from social workers, counselors and deans of discipline.
Jesus Velazquez got caught at school with a marijuana pipe in his backpack. What happened next is exactly what shouldn’t take place if a school district’s goal—or, from a larger perspective, a community’s goal—is to get kids who make dumb mistakes back on track. Jesus was suspended for 10 days, referred for an expulsion hearing and sent to a diversion program instead of being expelled. He ended up failing most of his sophomore classes and is now facing a fifth year in high school. Surely this was a case in which a non-punitive response—mandatory drug education or participation in community service—made better sense.
Students caught with an ounce or less of marijuana are more likely to be arrested in school than a student who starts a fight or steals. Hundreds of teens are arrested each year for drug offenses involving pot—offenses that may warrant only a ticket for adult Chicagoans.