In a recent article, the Minneapolis Public School District has announced a new initiative to reduce the number of non-White students suspended from school. The new initiative requires that any non-White student that is recommended for out of school suspension with the exception of violent infractions must be approved by the Superintendent’s office. The superintendents initiative could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

The superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools has moved in this direction because non-White students are ten times more likely to be suspended form school when compared to a White students. The over discipline of minority students such as Black students has a tremendous impact on the student. For example, the over discipline of Black students has created a school to prison pipeline. The school to prison pipeline is a term used to describe a widespread pattern of punishing students who are disadvantaged which ultimately though the replacement of punishment for educational services results in the student being placed in prison.

Proponents of the school to prison pipeline believe the system is beneficial because it provides an opportunity for placement for workers who are not able to attain and education to successfully work a highly skilled job. They believe that prisons provide the workforce necessary for lower skilled jobs and have the ability to make a profit in capitalistic society. Since schools can not operate to make a profit and therefore are an unnecessary institution.

The challenge for proponents of the education to prison pipeline is that it also has created an income inequality gap. The income inequality gap is the economical difference between the rich and the poor. Because income inequality contributes to slower economic growth, higher levels of financial crises and deflation.

The superintendent of Minneapolis Public School District is moving in the correct direction to heal a community that is now devastated by racial policies that produce a school to prison pipeline. It is the process that the superintendent is using that needs enhancement.

The major cause for schools that suspend non-White students at a rate that is ten times that of White students is that the school or schools themselves are dysfunctional organizations. Dysfunctional organizations reach that status because of the values that they embrace and the values that they reject. The high suspension rate is and indication of the schools rejecting the non-White student values and culture.

In the article, the superintendent of the Minneapolis Public School District stated that “suspensions meted out to minority students were all too often based on behavior that would not have led to a suspension for a White students”.

Because of the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization the school policies will eventually revert back to its present condition which is the acceptance of suspending Black students at a rate 10 times that of White students.

The Minneapolis Public School District can use two strategies to attain the intended results without jeopardizing student achievement. The first strategy will help students to reflect on their thinking when involved in a disciplinary infraction that warrants a consequence. As a former assistant principal it was always beneficial when students admitted to the violation. When presented to a parent, the students would admit guilt and that ended the process.

The second strategy is to help teachers to reduce the number of referrals submitted which will ultimately reduce the number of consequences recommended. Teachers are on the front line and must have the latitude to recommend discipline as part of the classroom management process. Many of the Black students are recommended for discipline because of the cultural differences between the teacher and the student. A process that provides teacher an insight of those verbal and nonverbal differences with reduce the quantity of recommended discipline referrals. The Minneapolis Public School District can accomplish this by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


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