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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Let schools enforce discipline

Rescinding the joint 2014 “dear colleague” letter on school discipline should be a top priority for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, writes Checker Finn,

Districts don’t have to obey the “guidance,” which doesn’t have the force of regulation. But they were threatened with federal investigation if their discipline practices had a “disparate impact” on minority or disabled students.

. . . Classroom behavior — and the consequences of misbehavior — is the proper purview of individual schools, districts, and states, which must strike a workable balance between fairness and due process for those who misbehave and the rights of a far larger number of students to calm, orderly, and unthreatening environments in which to learn. . . . Federal civil rights enforcement is warranted when actual acts of invidious discrimination take place, not when bean counters calculate that members of one group are being hauled to the principal’s office more often than members of another group.”

Here’s a primer on restorative justice from The 74.

Classroom discipline has more impact on achievement than education spending, reports The Australian, citing an international study by researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Chris Baumann and his Macquarie colleague Hana Krskova assessed PISA data to examine the impact of school discipline — students listening well in class, the noise level, teacher waiting time, class start times, and students working well — against the impact of increased education spending. “When we contrasted school discipline and education investment on the effect of performance, it was roughly 88 per cent in comparison to 12 per cent for education investment,’’ Dr Baumann said.

The Aussies are worried about their students’ performance on international exams.

Reducing misbehavior could raise achievement significantly, concludes a North Carolina study of middle schoolers. “If a student in an average school is exposed to 10 percent fewer peer behavioral incidents that require an out-of-school suspension or a more severe punishment, his or her performance on a standardized math test will increase by 6.2 percent of a standard deviation,” write Thomas Ahn and  Justin Trogdon. “This is somewhere between one-third to one-half of the increase in scores that economists have predicted would arise from cutting class size in half.”

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