What to make of Baltimore County's rising suspensions?
As reported by my colleague Liz Bowie: Baltimore County reported the highest suspension rate of any Maryland district apart from the Eastern Shore in the last school year, despite its efforts to focus on discipline that doesn't require students to miss classroom time.
About 10,000 students were suspended — or about one in every 10 — a rate that exceeds Baltimore City, where suspensions have been significantly reduced under CEO Andrés Alonso. The county is also noting disproportionate numbers of African American and special education students, which experts said county officials said was incredibly problematic.
Note: However, after years of declines the city school system's suspension rates rose last year as a result of an uptick of attacks on students and teachers, as well as insubordination. There's also been a debate about the crackdown on suspensions in the city, as teachers say that students and sometimes even parents have been rather opportunistic in using the the policy against educators.
As Liz's story pointed out: "The issue has prompted fierce debate — among education advocates and at school board meetings. Proponents defend suspensions as a time-honored and effective punishment, while opponents point to recent research showing that suspended students are at higher risk for dropping out, repeating a grade and entering the criminal justice system."
So, what do you make of the county's suspension trends? Is the county heading down a road that requires the same uproar that the city endured years ago?
FYI--The rest of the state shook out like this:
Across the state, 6.8 percent of students were suspended last school year, according to data released this month by the Maryland State Department of Education. The rates ranged from a low of 2.6 percent in Montgomery County to a high of 14 percent in Dorchester County. Baltimore City's suspensions rose this past year from 8.4 percent to 9.1 percent. Harford County was at 6.6 percent, Howard at 3.3 percent and Anne Arundel at 8.2 percent.