LAUSD Board Could Ban Suspensions for ‘Willful Defiance’

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2013

Damien Valentine knows painfully well about a national phenomenon that is imperiling the academic achievement of minority students, particularly African Americans like himself: the pervasive and disproportionate use of suspensions from school for mouthing off and other acts of defiance.

The Manual Arts Senior High School sophomore has been suspended several times beginning in seventh grade, when he was sent home for a day and a half for refusing to change his seat because he was talking. He said the suspensions never helped him learn to control his behavior but only made him fall further behind.

{snip}

But Valentine, who likes chemistry and wants to be a doctor, is determined to change school discipline practices. He has joined a Los Angeles County-wide effort to push a landmark proposal by school board President Monica Garcia that would make L.A. Unified the first school district in California to ban suspensions for willful defiance.

That offense is now widely criticized as an arbitrary catchall for any behavior a teacher finds objectionable, such as repeatedly tapping feet on the floor, refusing to remove a hat or failing to wear the school uniform. It accounted for 48% of 710,000 suspensions issued in California in 2011-12, prompting both state and local efforts to restrict its use in disciplinary actions.

Passage of the resolution, which is scheduled for a vote by the L.A. board of education on Tuesday, would mark a watershed moment in a long battle by community activists against “zero tolerance” policies adopted after the Columbine school shooting in Colorado more than a decade ago.

“This will be a transformational shift,” said Tonna Onyendu of the Liberty Hill Foundation, a Los Angeles nonprofit that is coordinating the campaign for the Garcia proposal, along with more than a dozen other groups. “Instead of punishing students, we’re going to engage them.”

{snip}

{snip} Statewide, black students are three times as likely as whites to be suspended; in L.A. Unified, 26% of those suspended in 2010-11 were African Americans although they make up 9% of students.

Such disparities are also evident nationwide, drawing the attention of the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education‘s civil rights office has launched investigations in North Carolina, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Florida and elsewhere on whether discriminatory suspension policies are violating the civil rights of black students.

{snip}

Two years ago, L.A. Supt. John Deasy put a greater focus on gathering data to monitor suspensions and made progress in reducing them part of his own performance review. He said he backs the Garcia resolution, which would eliminate willful defiance as grounds for suspension; instead, alternatives would be used, such as positive incentives and efforts to repair the harm caused known as restorative justice.

{snip}

At Augustus Hawkins High School in South L.A., a team of four teachers is leading efforts to bring such restorative justice practices to campus. In one recent case, ninth-grade teacher Katie Rainge-Briggs said she suspended a student for interrupting her and cursing. But rather than leave the problem unresolved, she took up a suggestion by the restorative-justice team leader that she and the student exchange letters. They did, each taking some blame and pledging to better cooperate. Then they shared the letters with the class.

“It was an effective process,” said the student, David Chinchilla, 15. “We talked about what happened and were friends at the end of the day. Without that, it would have been weird between us.”

{snip}

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  • I think that a lot of these suspensions are “officially” for “willful defiance,” but in reality, the students did a lot worse. It’s a scholastic version of plea bargaining.

    • Nick Gherz

      Chimping out is indigenous to the species. That’s just how they roll.
      Without consequences, it will just get worse.

      • George White

        You perfectly summed it up.

  • He said the suspensions never helped him learn to control his behavior but only made him fall further behind. …. But Valentine, who likes chemistry and wants to be a doctor, is determined to change school discipline practices.
    .
    If he falls further and further behind eveytime he is supended, what the F makes Damien Valentine thinks he is going to become a doctor.
    .
    And thanks to restorative-justice, Katie Rainge-Briggs and David Chinchilla were having sex again by 2PM. Now Katie reports that due to the fact they didn’t use a condom when he “got up in her” in the band room that she is with child …..

    • NordicHeritage

      Affirmative Action has them thinking that as long as “they be black ” they can do whatever they want to. And if someone tells them they can’t, then “theyz beez razist”.

      • KevinPhillipsBong

        I’ll give her credit…all 5 words are spelled correctly.

    • rebelcelt

      Again, pray tell, when do we listen to the disciplined about what is effective. Nor, does he tell us what would be effective. I suspect 1 lash with a wet noodle would be his answer.

  • David Ashton

    Classroom teachers and hardworking students are the prime victims of “engagement”, and education falters as a result. Another “unintended” consequence?

  • The__Bobster

    Yes, Bluegum Watanabe, they’re all little angels who di-int do nuffin, nome sane?

  • The__Bobster

    Statewide, black students are three times as likely as whites to be suspended; in L.A. Unified, 26% of those suspended in 2010-11 were African Americans although they make up 9% of students.
    _____

    Yes, yes, something is definitely out of balance there. The Bantu numbers should be far higher.

  • The__Bobster

    But Valentine, who likes chemistry and wants to be a doctor, is determined to change school discipline practices.
    ___________
    Hmmmm, sounds like a Zulu obituary,

    • Luca

      Black doctors? Umm… other than witch doctors I can only think of two: Conrad Murray and Kermit Gosnell.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      The media report this one-sided narrative ALL the time with a straight face. No one EVER bothers to look at Valentine’s grades, which are most likely straight Fs, attendance, which is most likely abysmal, or ask his teachers about his comportment in class, which is most likely loud, obnoxious and rude.

      Kids in these kinds of schools say ALL the time that they want to be doctors and lawyers and no one ever tells them otherwise.

      The problem is, when they fail they immediately blame the teachers, institutional racism, racist textbooks, oppression, suspensions, nobody helped them, ad infinitem and ad nauseam.

      And this will be exactly what the media report.

      Bon

    • Xerxes22

      Valentine has to learn how to read and write and speak standard English before he can pursue his goal of becoming a doctor and brain surgeon.

  • bigone4u

    Even for libtards this idea sets a new low for dumb. Encourage disobediance in the young and you have an adult criminal. Didn’t the Bible say something about this?

    • MBlanc46

      They’re not being disobedient, they’re being “oppositional”. They’re fighting oppression.

  • Luca

    So while the youfs are cursing the teacher, acting out and being defiant, how much quality time does that take away from some of the other students who actually want to learn? Then how much time is taken away while student and teacher are writing psycho babble letters to each other and getting in touch with their inner-child?

    Probably boils down to schools not getting money when kids don’t show up to class, plus unruly kids can be classified as “special needs” therefore getting more federal money. These kids aren’t going to learn anything of substance because their dysfunctional behavior shows they are only in school for a free lunch, socializing and peer attention. Eventually they’ll be “kicked out” of school with a diploma and won’t know squat, then they can get a federal student loan to go to college. They’ll attend a few classes, dropout and never pay back the loan. This in turn will generate some new studies on why hispanics and blacks don’t finish college. The answer will probably due to Racism, so then they’ll push for more Diversity instructors in colleges to teach professors that four lettered words coming from the students are actually rich, vibrant and hip ways of communication.

    As a side benefit the Neo-Marxists will have pushed another ignorant kid into society and guess how he’ll vote when he’s 18?

    BTW..in the end, who pays for all this??

    • MBlanc46

      I suppose that the only saving grace here is that its unlikely that there are students who actually want to learn in most of the LA schools.

  • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

    They did, each taking some blame and pledging to better cooperate.
    .
    Thank God I’m not a teacher, because my letter would begin, “I accept the blame for not smacking you upside the head the first time you mouthed off at me. Next time I will cooperate with Mr. Louisville and Mr. Slugger to put an end to your misbehavior.”

  • ncpride

    each taking some blame……..
    A teacher taking blame for being cursed at and interrupted. Just… wow. The insanity keeps getting worse. Again, I don’t see how, or WHY in the world anyone would become a teacher these days. I wouldn’t last the week.

    • Room101

      The Government just wants well-paid stupid place-holders to tell all kids that White people are “racist”.
      Not die-verse.
      Life unworthy-of-life.

  • Exoplanet Finder

    Interesting. A better idea would be to rechristen an prison in LA Willful Defiance High School and send the willfully defiant there for the remainder of their education.

  • APaige

    “a national phenomenon that is imperiling the academic achievement of minority students, particularly African Americans”- not discipline on black students, but rather their own lack of discipline.
    If a student interrupts and swears at a student-how could they ‘share’ blame?

  • SlyDeNiro

    The rotten fruit from the seeds sown by the Murphy Brown social engineers.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Don’t look now: This PASSED yesterday, 5-2.

    He said the suspensions never helped him learn to control his behavior but only made him fall further behind.

    That’s not the purpose of a suspension, dumb *** it’s to get rid of jerks like you so the kids YOU prevent from learning can do so without YOUR constant clowning, disrupting and foolishness. YOU are violating their Civil Rights and interfering with my job.

    When this was in progress and looked like it was going through, I called the union area rep and asked if this meant only suspensions from school — and if classroom teachers still had the right, as per the union contract, to suspend defiant students from class.

    The union rep said teachers could still suspend from class but the idiots in Sacramento are trying to change that and embed the “no suspension policy for willful defiance” in the ed code, which would over-ride the teachers’ contract.

    This would give the kids the right to curse out teachers, refuse to move when asked, or put away a cell phone. As I read in The American Conservative: Where there is no respect for authority, there will be no order.

    Obviously, this will prepare students for the working world, when they have to face a boss.

    Bon

    • Puggg

      Obviously, this will prepare students for the working world, when they have to face a boss.

      They probably won’t have to worry about that. Gibsmedat checks don’t have a boss attached to them, EBT cards don’t have a supervisor.

      • Cville

        These oddballs keep spiraling.

  • PesachPatriot

    I was always a bit of a class clown during my school days, but I was never “willfully defiant” like the kids in this story….my worst misbehavior was sometimes passing notes, doodling monsters and comic book guys in my notebook, or making paper airplanes and throwing them across the room at the end of the school day wen the bell rang….I was guilty of paying more attention in history and english classes than math or science just because i liked the first two better.

    If a teacher told me to quit making noise or being a goofball I did as I was told and apologized immediately for disrupting class, maybe because my parents drilled respect for teachers into my skull as a kid for years before i even made it into a classroom. I feel badly for kids in schools these days who actually want to learn something other than how to duck bullets or the best way to avoid being stabbed for your sneakers.

    • MBlanc46

      Kids are kids and some kids are going to be more animated than others. Refusing to do as one is told by a teacher or cursing the teacher is another category entirely. What’s required is a zero tolerance policy.

      • PesachPatriot

        I’m kind of in favor of bringing back the old “board of education” paddle to handle discipline problems….my small northern rural school system was majority white, mixed with some jewish and asian kids and the blacks and hispanics could be counted on both hands….our worst discipline problem in high school was kids smoking grass in the woods by the athletic field after school and sometimes ditching late afternoon classes….there were never shootings, stabbings, pregnancies, sex on school property, fistfights on a weekly basis or disrespect for teachers and administrators.

        • MBlanc46

          There was some minor corporal punishment when I was in school–having your knuckles rapped with a ruler, e.g. It didn’t do me great harm. I’m not sure that any amount of corporal punishment–apart perhaps from shooting them–would bring some of these inner city thugs under control. The sort of social control that you need to have functioning education has to come from the family and neighborhood. If it’s not there, schools can’t impose it. It may be necessary to put trouble-making youth into the hands of the criminal justice system earlier rather than later. Cuss the teacher, wind up in juvie.

    • Aspiring rapper

      In other words, you’re white.

  • anon

    “It was an effective process,” said the student, David Chinchilla, 15. “We talked about what happened and were friends at the end of the day. Without that, it would have been weird between us.”

    What a disaster. Subordinates are not supposed to be friends with those in authority over them. You don’t make it “not weird” by being friends, you make it “not weird” by having a clear understanding of who is in authority. This is exactly why, in the military, officers are not allowed to fraternized with enlisted men. This is why bosses who are not fools do not socialize with their subordinates.

    The whole idea of restorative justice, where both sides take blame for the out of control behavior of a subordinate, is pure Marxist disaster. Real Marxists (Stalin for example) would NEVER have tolerated restorative justice. We’re being forced into this now just to make whites afraid and unable to have power over non-whites.

    The only thing Mr. Chinchilla has learned from this “restorative justice” and the official ban on suspensions is that he can get away with ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, for now and forever. Talking back to teachers today is going to mean criminal behavior and violence in the future, and certainly will make him utterly unemployable.

    Unfortunately what would work within LAUSD is the opposite of restorative justice, which might be called paternalism, in other words rigid, firm discipline and punishment.

    All this is being paid for by my tax dollars! Yippee!

  • Since elementary, junior, and high school is essentially just a day care center for older kids, this is akin to a parent not having to pick up their sick kid or biter. Who cares if he harms or gets other kids sick.

    This just makes me thankful that I have vowed to keep my children in a private school. Such behavior would never be tolerated, and a child that did not change would be expelled, in a short time.

    Keeping my children safe is my highest priority. It breaks my heart to think of how many precious white children must suffer in crowded public schools, with violent and disruptive minorities, and a complacent faculty that refuses to protect them.

    • MBlanc46

      That sort of behavior was certainly not tolerated in the public school system that I attended. If you want to send your kids to private school, fine, but it’s unacceptable that civilized behavior should not be required in public schools. Taking back our school systems is just one part of reclaiming our society.

  • Basketeddie

    I am so glad that this 15 year old seorgen learned from his idiot teacher that it is ok to be “willfully defiant” to those in authority. This lesson in life will be very useful to him later when he he has to battle the bureaucrats at county social services.

  • Zapp Branigan

    Go to the original article and read the comments, more than 90% of them are from people that are disgusted with the LAUSD proposal, so there is some common sense in the general population. (The proposal was approved by the way)

  • rebelcelt

    He has joined a Los Angeles County-wide effort to push a landmark proposal by school board President Monica Garcia that would make L.A. Unified the first school district in California to ban suspensions for willful defiance.

    Pray tell what other kind of defiance is there? Unwillful defiance? what a [email protected]$$.

  • MBlanc46

    I can’t imagine what would have happened to me had I refused to do what a teacher told me to do or cursed a teacher. I can’t imagine it because it would never have occurred to me to do it, nor did it seem to occur to any of the 2,000 or so people I attended school with 1-12. I do know what would have happened to me when I got home, though.

  • JohnCabel

    Make education even more of a joke than it is now! Engagement my ass! These punks will run the school and the chances of this moron becoming a doctor are close to zero. But wait a minute we have Obama Care so the chances are close to 100 percent he will become a doctor. Stay healthy my friends!!!