WDEL Blog: Rick Jensen's World Famous Thirsty Thursday Blog

Delaware's Brilliant Idea: When kids skip school, kick them out of the school. Yeah, that'll show 'em!

Thousands of Delaware students are suspended for minor infractions each year, some for skipping school. Schools tell kids "If you don't want to come to school, just don't attend and we'll make it official." Brilliant.
If you need a study to decide if in-school suspension is a better idea than suspending kids from school when they skip school, there are a few. I even found a study that found the reason for negative "perceptions" and failure to change students' "attitudes" was the fault of administrators' lack of attention to the program. (1) I couldn't find one University study that found it's wiser to send kids out onto the street to punish them for wanting to hang out on the street instead of attending school.
With in-school suspension, students still have access to required coursework, teacher input, and adult guidance to make continuous academic progress. They also discover that cutting school isn't going to keep them from learning as much as teachers can teach them. Out of school suspension also ignores reasons why a kid decides to bail on school.

In-school suspension models can be classified into one of the following categories:

1. Punitive model - assumes punishment will reduce behavior (Breakfast Club model)

2. Discussion format - assumes active discussions with the program staff and activities to improve self-esteem, communication, and problem-solving skills will help develop and influence appropriate behavior

3. Academic model - assumes behavior is a direct result of academic frustration and improved basic skills will help improve student behavior

4. Individual model - assumes reasons for misbehavior vary student to student and combines models 1-3 with an evaluation component. (3)

In middle school, it was usually one of our coaches who monitored our in-school suspension or detention, making sure we had our class materials, wrote papers, and studied during the school day. They had authority and we all knew they were the final authority over our behavior in that classroom. We studied. Even the real troublemakers read their books.

If nearly 23,000 students are suspended & sent home each year for minor infractions like incomplete school uniforms, mouthing off and skipping school while in-school suspensions are more productive, then legislators need to be creative in finding programs less critical than education and shift funding to schools that need extra classrooms (trailers?), teachers and paraprofessionals to prevent these kids from adding to Delaware's miserable graduation rate and crime problems.

(1) http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED396372&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED396372

(2) Guindon, Jerry. Developing An In-School Suspension Program In An Elementary School As An Alternative To Home-bound Suspension. Nova University; 1992. 62 pages. ED 349 679.

(3) Sheets, John. Designing An Effective In-School Suspension Program To Change Student Behavior. NASSP Bulletin; p86-90, April 1996

Posted at 7:01am on June 7, 2010 by Rick Jensen

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 10:06pm
I think a lot of those teens were at Newark Nite this weekend.

NewsJournal article June 8-
Newark Nite festivities on Main Street on Saturday ended at 8:30, but some of the estimated 30,000 attendees kept police busy into the early hours of Sunday.

Newark police investigated a shooting, a stabbing, an attempted robbery, a carjacking and a few disorderly conduct complaints.

Between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., police arrested six people on 16 charges in separate incidents.

"It was worse than last year," said Newark police Master Cpl. Gerald Bryda. "Starting at 6:30 p.m., 33 calls were logged in, just centering around police response. The last one came in at 3 a.m."

Wed, Jun 9, 2010 2:24pm
What options do schools have? They can't keep kids after school - not allowed in public schools in Delaware due to transportation issues. Parents do not realize the impact on missing school - parents do not participate in school. Why should kids who are responsible (want to get an education) have their classes disrupted with constant discipline issues?

If kids are thrown out of school, require them to get a GED or night school if they really care.

Lynn Pouser
Wed, Jun 9, 2010 2:30pm
Hi this is Lynn and if you're interested in contacting the Christiana Mall regarding Spencer's please email me and let me know. There is power in many voices!

Wed, Jun 9, 2010 8:10pm
This is such a big issue. Most kids love getting kicked out of class. Some of them even arrange with their buddies when to do it so they can spend the day in a room goofing off, tormenting the teacher covering the Internal Suspension room. And hey, they don't loose credit for time missed. And hey, most of their parents don't care about the kids grades or blame the behavior and grade on a teacher issue. Schools hands are tied. They can't ask the kids to perform a public service in remediation, parents wouldn't allow it, it is a violation of their civil rights, and most schools don't have the manpower to have someone even oversee a program like that.
Here's an even more ludicrous sceneria. When students are given Saturday school (which is a great idea) and they don't make the Saturday, our school gives the kid an internal suspension day. The kids love it!!! Why not give them two Saturdays and hold the parents accountable to get them there? Mind boggling isn't it?
I truly believe that until we inconvenience parents because of their child's misbehavior, nothing is going to change. Hey, why not require parenting classes to repeat offenders? Lots of parents don't have parenting skills. I don't know why, but many of them just don't get it. And then they're shocked when they are raising their child's child. HMMMMM

Anyway, listen to this. My girlfriend's son (4) was admitted to a local prestigious hospital for IV treatment of a bacterial infection. She gathered up b ooks, crayons, cars, trucks and headed to the hospital. The boy had the IV and they spent their Saturday in the hospital, with her entertaining her son. Reading, coloring, stickering, exploring. You know, stuff a parent does with their small child. Well, she came home with some real true horror stories. The child in the next crib, an 18 month old, was being admitted for inhalation therapy. No IV, no hinderances. My friend say that this beautiful play area on the pediatric ward was empty. Her roommate, like most of the other parents on the floor, spend their time there watching tv. Her particular roommate was dressed slovenly, laying all over the coach and spent the day yelling at her 18month old to shut up and stop crying. No effort was made to entertain the child, play with the child, hold the child for the entire day. No wonder when a kid gets to school and is looking for attention any way he can get it, he rebels when he is told to sit down and be quiet. It is a very sad day for the family. And the schools are paying the price. There is nothing wrong with public education, but there is something really wrong with the way children are allowed to grow up.

Rick Jensen
Wed, Jun 9, 2010 8:50pm
Message for Lynn P and mons who want to connect re: Spencer's Gifts. In order for you to see each others' email addresses, you'll have to enter the addresses in this 'comment' space. If the addresses don't show up here, we'll work out another way for you all to get together.

Rick Jensen


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