TASH has signed on to a letter to the Maryland State Board of Education regarding proposed regulations on student discipline, which require greater data collection, promote reductions in disparities for students of color, and require that suspended students receive homework while on suspension, among other changes. The letter originated from the Advancement Project, and is co-signed with a community of Maryland-based and national advocacy groups.
Carol Quirk, TASH past-president, said of the changes, “This is about the MOST progressive set of regulations in the country aimed at transforming school discipline to reduce suspensions and other harsh disciplinary practices. It is a national model.”
The letter is as follows:
Maryland State Board of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Dear President Degraffenreidt and Members of the State Board of Education:
We write to offer comments to the February 2012 Maryland State Board of Education’s Study of School Discipline Practices and Proposed Regulatory Changes. We represent an array of organizations with extensive experience researching and addressing the effects of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests, and other harsh disciplinary measures, as well as alternatives to those practices. We were pleased to learn of the proposed regulatory changes and appreciate the Board of Education’s recognition that too many Maryland schools continue to employ ineffective disciplinary practices that harm youth, families, and communities across the state.
As you recognized in your study, discipline policies that rely on out-of-school suspensions and other exclusionary measures have failed to improve student behavior or increase school safety. Instead, they too often limit the educational opportunities of youth and increase their chances of entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Additionally, the overuse of these practices harms the overall performance of Maryland schools by lowering academic achievement and worsening school climate.
On the other hand, there are sound alternatives available to schools that promote safe and productive school climates without depriving large numbers of students of their opportunities to learn. Across the country, districts that are deemphasizing harsh zero-tolerance measures and promoting appropriate and fair disciplinary consequences are reaping the benefits, through safer and more effective schools.
Maryland is taking a step in the right direction with its proposed regulatory changes. We are confident that, if implemented, they will result in a stronger, and more just, education system across the state.
Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact if we can be of any assistance in the future.