Leo Casey, executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, notes that numerous authorities warn about the adverse effects of suspending students from school. He notes that Eva Moskowitz, by contrast, believes that suspending students teaches them important lessons and makes it less likely that they will need to be suspended in the future. She belittles the New York City public schools for reducing suspensions.
Casey compares the suspensions that Success Academy charter schools reported to the U.S. Department of Education to the suspensions that SA reported to the New York State Department of Education and finds that the reported rates are different.
Here is the executive summary of the Shanker Institute report:
Success Academy Charter School CEO Eva Moskowitz has taken up the issue of school discipline recently, defending the practices in her own schools and criticizing the efforts to reform student discipline in the New York City public schools. A close inspection of available data shows that: first, Success Academy has misrepresented its suspensions to the U.S. Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection, reporting only two suspensions while reporting hundreds of suspensions to the New York State Education Department; second, that when students of the same age groups are compared, Success Academy charter schools suspend their students at roughly seven times the rate of New York City public schools; and third, that the suspended students are overwhelmingly African American and Latino. Moskowitz’s attacks on New York City public schools reform efforts is designed as a shot across the bow of the U.S. Education Department and U.S. Justice Department, which has advised that excessive suspensions of students of color is a violation of U.S. civil rights law.
Moskowitz defends suspensions as a valid disciplinary tool and mocks the public schools for minimizing suspensions:
The New York City public school policies that Moskowitz derides are part of a national reform effort, inspired by a body of research showing that overly punitive disciplinary policies are ineffective and discriminatory. Based on this research evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and School Discipline Consensus Project of the Council of State Governments have all gone on record on the harmful effects of employing such policies. The U.S. Education Department, the U.S. Justice Department, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, consortia of researchers, national foundations, and the Dignity in Schools advocacy coalition have all examined the state of student discipline in America’s schools in light of this research.1
Their findings? Suspensions and expulsions, the most severe forms of school discipline, are being used excessively in American schools, often for such minor infractions such as “talking back” or being out of uniform. Further, these severe punishments are being applied disproportionality to students of color, especially African-American and Latino boys, students with disabilities and LGBT youth.
As a result of these data, the U.S. Education Department and U.S. Justice Department issued guidance to schools, based on their finding that discriminatory uses of suspensions and expulsions were in violation of Title IV and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Since this guidance came from the federal agencies that are charged with the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, it added the force of the law to the powerful moral arguments for addressing the problem of discriminatory discipline. School districts and schools, public and charter, took notice. The more progressive minded, such as the new de Blasio administration of the New York City Department of Education, began to reform their disciplinary practices in accord with these regulations. As a consequence, the suspensions and expulsions from New York City’s public schools have been dramatically reduced.
It will be interesting to see if the new Secretary of Education John King, himself a leader in the “no-excuses” charter movement, will require Success Academy charters to abide by Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.