Not Sparing the Rod Spoiling the Children?

LITTLE ROCK, AR (Ben Caxton) — A new report finds that Arkansas schools rely too heavily on expulsion and corporal punishment to discipline students. The study says spanking or expelling kids as disciplinary actions makes learning harder for students who are struggling to achieve, and rarely resolves the underlying problem. Report author Ginny Blankenship, with the nonprofit Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says outdated discipline policies often do more harm than good, especially for disadvantaged students. “We found examples of schools that are kicking kids out for very minor, nonviolent offenses at far greater rates for children of color and children with special needs than their peers in the classroom.” She says the study confirms that disruptive students are often the ones who struggle the most with schoolwork. Blankenship says research shows that suspensions and spankings – which account for two-thirds of all disciplinary actions – are ineffective at improving student behavior. The report offers alternatives, such as the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support system, in which students can take responsibility and make amends for their actions. The study is a product of recent measures by the Arkansas General Assembly, which mandate reporting of all cases of school discipline. Blankenship says it recommends that the state provide more resources to the Arkansas Department of Education for training and school personnel. “We’ve got to have more school counselors available in schools across the state. Right now, we’re really under-funding school counselor positions. We should have a ratio of no more than one to 400 students, and we often have one to 700 in some cases.” She says the report suggests a ban on corporal punishment and recommends strict limits on suspensions, particularly for students in the lower grades. “In Arkansas last year, there were over 15,000 instances of students being hit by administrators. A lot of parents don’t realize that this is still the case. And Arkansas is one of only 19 states that still allows this to happen. ” The report also calls for including student discipline rates and methods as a gauge of school climate in each school’s federal report as part of the “Every Student Succeeds Act.”



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