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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 06/21/2009

Discipline That Schools Need

By Marisa Katz

John McMahon

As a veteran teacher, I read with interest about the Prince George's County school system's attempts to reduce suspensions. The article made suspension sound like merely a punitive measure that does nothing but harm to the suspended student. I would argue that it has three benefits:

-- It teaches an important lesson that many students may not learn anywhere else: If you can't follow the rules of an institution, you may have to leave. While the suspended student is at home, the parents might take the time to reinforce this lesson, which they should have imparted before school started.

-- It removes, at least temporarily, one disruptive child from the classroom so that the other 20 or so students might be able to learn something besides the fact that the teacher can't tell a 12-year-old to quietly do school work without being cursed out.

-- It gives school administrators such as Principal Jeffrey Parker of G. James Gholson Middle School the leverage to enforce the rules. I found it intriguing that the principal was pulling cafeteria duty. Is he the only person on the staff who has the authority to provide a meaningful consequence for misbehavior? And what is that consequence? Suspension.

By Marisa Katz  | June 21, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  schools  
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