A new survey to gauge what parents and students think about public school discipline is being fielded right now by the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.
The non profit group is analyzing student discipline issues across the state. They’re looking at student discipline data and interviewing a wide range of people connected with schools and courts, including principles, teachers, school probation officers, attorneys and juvenile court judges. Twelve school districts representing a range of geography and economics are currently participating and have been promised anonymity. JUSTGeorgia and the Barton Center are helping get the word out to families.
“We want a broad based and diverse group of parents and students to respond. We’ve asked a number of stakeholder groups around the state to forward surveys to their mailing list so we can get as many views as possible,“ said Rob Rhodes, Director of Legal Affairs at Georgia Appleseed.
There are separate surveys for parents and students in grades 8 – 12, targeting questions about fairness and effectiveness in school discipline. Topics include:
- Do you believe your child was treated fairly when it came to administering student discipline?
- In what way do you feel the student discipline system or safety programs could be improved?
- Is it a good idea to have a school resource officer?
- Do kids feels safe in school?
Georgia Appleseed has been working on a comprehensive study of school discipline for months. JIIE.org has been watching the research unfold, as we reported on Phase I findings in July and a more recent look at data in October, when Rhodes shared his findings with reporter Chandra Thomas at the Georgia Truancy and Delinquency Prevention Conference. The preliminary report called Effective School Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class, looked at data from 60 schools collected by the state Department of Education. Early findings showed:
- Some schools punish much more frequently and more severely than others
- African-American students, special education students and those receiving free or reduced lunches were disciplined more than others
- Many school systems with the highest rates of out-of-school suspensions had graduation rates below the state average
Rhodes addressed the difficulties that teachers and principals face every day to make sure students feel safe and get a quality education. “On the one hand there’s an absolute imperative that our schools be safe and that all students have an effective learning environment. The other side of the balance is that each individual student has a reasonable opportunity to obtain a quality high school education, even those students that misbehave,“ said Rhodes.
The new study should be finished in early 2011, in time for findings to be shared with lawmakers before the next legislative session gets underway. “We hope to issue a report in advance of the convening of the Georgia General Assembly, so lawmakers and other stakeholders can use [it] as a resource if there’s any new legislation dealing with zero tolerance or student discipline,” said Rhodes.
Parents who would like to be part of the survey may contact Rob Rhodes directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.