Question: What behavior and discipline plans other than SRO's (Police officers) would you support to deal with students’ misbehavior?
As a mother of three black children who currently attend Madison elementary schools, I believe that if black children feel emotionally and mentally safe in our schools, all children will feel safe and misbehavior will decrease. To do that we need to focus on seeing our children from a standpoint of excellence instead of a deficit. For example, as a board we can work with administrators to create policy that directs schools to take a common set of steps regarding student behavior comes from the recognition and expectation of excellence, i.e. requiring administrators, teachers, parents and the student involved to first develop a list of assets and excellent qualities the student has as the first step in the disciplinary process. The second step is to have an evidence based scientific and trauma-informed plan to leverage those assets and develop the students capacities to develop and display patience, while at the same time being able to demonstrate one of the skills they naturally possess to the teacher or to the class.
As a board we can create policy that goes beyond requiring culturally relevant practices and curriculum/literature that feature stories about people of color - and reflect what teachers who practice Culturally Relevant Pedagogy already do in our MMSD schools, like require that curriculum be more rigorous in its source material to reflect primary sources that our diverse students see their local histories, their family histories in and that creates opportunity for our students to show their expertise regarding how their ethnicity, nationality, ability status, socioeconomic stats etc. contributes to world history, technology, science, mathematics etc.
Our students are incredibly bright, smart and ambitious. If you listen to our students - like the students who came to the last Black Excellence Coalition meeting at the end of February, you will hear that they don't just react to social relationships, or teacher/administrator interactions. They want, need and are calling for to be challenged academically. Disengagement from the curriculum is a student identified problem. Our own students are asking us to create more rigorous academic programs to engage them in the classroom. How can we include academics in a positive way to prevent disciplinary issues in the first place?
Second, we must have more black teachers, support staff, and trauma-informed staff in our schools. When we have more staff in our schools, we not only give our students more people to form relationships with, but we give our teachers perhaps the most important resource -more time in the classroom to teach.
Third, we need to clarify the BEP/IEP process. as a mother of a black boy with an IEP, I have been very active in MMSD sessions regarding IEPs, as my experience started out in such a way that I was disempowered to discovering options, resources, and power to ensure that my child is taken care of. From the meetings I have been at, I noticed that black parents do not have information regarding IEPs and the BEP that empower them to advocate for their child.
There have been a lot of community sessions that review the details of the BEP. Unfortunately these sessions do not offer clarity for myself or parents like me regarding the process and how decisions are made. Our questions include:
How it is implemented by teachers and administrators?
What do they base their decisions off of when they implement this plan?
How well do they know our children, I only hear from them when my child is in trouble.
How these decisions are made regarding my individual child?
Why am I meeting with my teachers half-way through this issue becoming a problem?
As a board member my goal is to work with my board members, district administrator, parents, students and teachers to refine, revamp, create and lobby for school board policy that clarifies the process and directly answers questions to the questions that I myself and other parents have regarding this process.