Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%.

The above is what I’ve long known. I was fortunate, I came up through schools that had teachers who cared about their students. I suppose that’s the difference when your parent(s) are paying for it.

But what I found most abhorrent over the past few years was the use of Zero Tolerance policies. That struck me as being extremely ill thought out, path of least resistance type thinking. And I’ve heard more first person anecdotes over time to make the determination that Zero Tolerance does not, and never has, worked to the betterment of those kids in the schools.

From ignorance of IEP and behavioral plans, to teachers who don’t care enough about their students to challenge them. And in the latter case, it isn’t because the teachers couldn’t do it, but because the structure of their school doesn’t permit such action.

I remember my participation in one of several program reviews at high schools around the state. I met two different teachers, one of them a younger teacher who was enthusiastic about the subject he was teaching. The other was basically teaching MS Office skills. She had the kids doing a payroll spreadsheet and manually calculating the deductions.

So I stopped and asked her if perhaps the kids might be better prepared for life if they knew some VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). VBA lets you add conditional and branching logic. So for example, you could do lookup tables for tax rates, or correct malformed zip codes, all sorts of utilities to transform data.

The teachers response was you needed advanced math for that. I gave her a quizzical look and said that it really was the BASIC programming language, that you didn’t need much more than beginners algebra and I noted on my review sheet that it should be incorporated into the class.

But above you have two examples of teachers. One enthusiastic and dynamic, one apathetic and lackadaisical.

But they all need to go that further step. And I’d also like to suggest that we need to better train our teachers. Incorporate the ACE recognition into the curriculum. That way it gets into EVERY school over time.

2 thoughts on “Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

  1. I agree. I think in-school suspensions are critical for dealing with ACEs, as well as off-the-record minor discipline. Far too many kids’ futures have been destroyed because they accidentally managed to get suspended from school for violating a zero-tolerance rule, and subsequently could not get accepted into a good college. Their punishment will last their entire lives all because they made a simple, stupid, and minor mistake. It’s neither fair nor just, and it is likely an in-school suspension would be adequate and appropriate to deal with the problem.

  2. i saw this article and have been part of a grassroots movement to transform the building i teach in where logic and love determine consequences for behavior, not a flow chart.

    since the former principal got fired in february we have been using more in-school suspensions or having ‘early release’ for students who cannot behave appropriately for an entire school day.

    it takes time and the kids have to trust enough to buy into it. we haven’t won the war yet in my building, but the tide is turning and hopefully next year will be better.


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