A bill has been proposed that would give Ohio schools authority to expel, for up to 180 days, students who pose an “imminent and severe endangerment to the health and safety” of other students or employees. The Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks H.B. 334 is a bad idea because it’s reactive and does nothing to cure the problems that underlie bad behavior. The academy has it right.
H.B. 334 as another step down the road of bad policy that started with “zero tolerance” in 1998. Zero tolerance has been plagued by problems as administrators have failed to demonstrate critical thinking when employing it, and its use is often discriminatory.
Focusing on expulsion means dealing only with the immediacy of bad conduct, but bad conduct is often related to problems such as drug abuse, physical abuse, family problems and racial tensions. The academy believes not enough is being done to treat these core problems and proposes three solutions: 1) accessible early intervention for pre-school children; 2) making greater to efforts identify kids who are at-risk and providing them with assistance, such as counseling, behavior-focused study, and helping them develop problem-solving strategies; and 3) promoting school-wide support for positive behavior where “desired behaviors are actively taught, clearly and consistently expected, and positively recognized and acknowledged.”
Students who experience suspension and expulsion are much more likely to drop out of school. Kids who drop out of school have lower employment rates and, when they’re employed, they earn less than high school grads. What do 68 percent of all males in federal and state prisons have in common? They don’t have high school diplomas.
Getting rid of the troublemakers is expedient and politically attractive, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Either we invest resources to address those problems now, or we expel m
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