Safety in schools

by WCE

Portland is progressing toward an “equity” policy for school discipline similar to that described in St. Paul. If my children’s school became unsafe, I would quit my job and homeschool. These are the stories my rural relatives tell about schools in “the cities.” (MSP is the major airport closest to everyone.)

To what extent do you believe that the push for equity in school discipline supported by former President Obama has contributed to the school discipline situation in St. Paul? What other thoughts do you have about safety in schools?

No Thug Left Behind

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156 thoughts on “Safety in schools

  1. I am going to stay away from this discussion. Way too loaded an article for me. Simply equating kids with “thugs” is repulsive to me.

    “If my children’s school became unsafe, I would quit my job and homeschool.” Definitely showing your privilege with that statement.

    Really, I’m out.

  2. Most of us are privileged enough to be able to homeschool, have a spouse homeschool, or attend private school if we’re willing to have incomes under $10,000/person, like many of the homeschooling families I know who want to keep their children out of unsafe schools.

    I’m definitely privileged, but so are most others on this blog.

  3. My middle/high schools had metal detectors. This was NYC in the 70s and 80s, and the city crime rates were much higher than they are today. The neighborhood where I went to HS was unsafe, and we knew what to do to remain safe on the streets and buses and subways.

    In my experience, these schools become segregated inside the buildings so that doesn’t really help the problem if you’re trying to create a diverse community. My brother didn’t test into a specialized HS, and he attended a local HS. It was dangerous, but he knew which staircases to use, and he commuted with friends. Eventually, he met kids from all over the borough, because of sports. He wasn’t afraid, and he got a solid education.

    The problem is that so much of the success of a HS like this depends on the Principal and assistant principals. The staff was experienced, and kept order when he was there so it worked until that Principal retired. They eventually had to divide his HS into smaller schools because it was too dangerous and unwieldy.

    I recommend a book by Tony Danza about his year teaching in an inner city school in PA. It gives you a balanced picture of why these kids might behave this way in school, and why keeping them in these schools might be the best chance at improving their lives.

  4. Using this rigorous methodology, the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.”

    Bias plays no role? Not a minor role or a limited role but no role? That doesn’t seem likely.

    As for the writer, the article was so one sided it lost a great deal of credibility.

  5. “As for the writer, the article was so one sided it lost a great deal of credibility.”

    I agree, but it still seems like a horrible situation. I don’t know anyone on this blog that wouldn’t pull their kids out of a situation similar to that described in the (biased) article.

  6. Wow. The author’s disdain just oozes through every word. I don’t even know where to start here.

    Yes, there is such a thing as throwing the baby out with the bathwater; the pendulum always swings too far. But when you predicate an entire piece on the concept that racial bias doesn’t exist and black kids are all thugs who are just getting what they deserve, then there’s really not much I can say. That’s a polemic, not an analysis or reasoned discussion.

    So, yeah, I’m out. Not going to argue a strawman.

  7. I haven’t read the full article, but I’m local to this school district and it has been a hot mess for several years. There is a complete breakdown in trust and safety between the teachers and administration. These are not new problems in NYC, Detroit, Chicago, LA, etc, but around here it is.

  8. Kerri, I’m torn. “Thug” is indeed a horrible perjorative to use against a kid, particularly as it has come to have a clear racist bias. But we just ignored disgusting comments, racist and otherwise, made in the last presidential election and look what it got us.

  9. Houston and WCE, yes people on this blog are privileged. That does not give anyone a pass for the ugly pejorative tone used by the author.

  10. I agree with everything that Kerri said.

    All the double quotes around words reminded me of Trump’s tweets. The author used to write an opinion column in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis’ main newspaper). Her pieces lacked substance and academic discipline, in my opinion.

    I also lose it whenever someone says “inner-city” as if everything in the city is dangerous and scary. My family all lives in the suburbs and the schools there face similar problems.

    WCE, I’m always fascinated about your stories of rural Iowa. I feel like you had a much better experience than my DH growing up and feel that small town values are a good thing. My experience via DH of small-town, rural Iowa are the exact opposite.

    Ugh, I’m done.

  11. “Houston and WCE, yes people on this blog are privileged. That does not give anyone a pass for the ugly pejorative tone used by the author.”

    What did I say wrong, or what would you have me do? Why would I require a pass if the ugly tone was used by the author (and not me), who’s article I called biased?

  12. WCE,

    You didn’t post this thinking the article was an accurate description of the situation, did you?

  13. Yes I would take my child out of a chaotic school setting, I think most of us would.

    And sure the article was heavily biased, but that doesn’t mean that some of what the author described didn’t happen. A more helpful article would have pinpointed studies that show what schools can do for these kids who are bringing the chaos of their family life into schools (to the detriment of their fellow students and their teachers).

  14. I believe every person has bias. It is the degree that they monitor themselves and prevent themselves from acting on it that is the key. When it comes to enforcing anything, being consistent in doing so is extremely hard. Your own children will point out every time you are inconsistent in your treatment of them. You can identify when your boss treated two employees who did/failed to do the same thing differently.

    My personal experience is that certain people – often people of color, but even within a homogenous ethnic group – tend to be singled out more often and punished more harshly for their behavior than the rest of the group.

  15. Warning: political response, though I try to keep it on the politics thread

    Rhett, I don’t think the description is entirely accurate. I posted it in part because I think the fact that coastal people (as shown on this blog today) are unwilling to engage with the perceptions of people like my rural relatives (who mostly have never been to NYC, D.C., L.A. or San Francisco) is part of why the country is divided. They viewed a vote for Clinton as a vote for schools with these problems, and they felt their concerns were never properly heeded/acknowledged by Obama’s policymakers

    tcmama, I think rural small towns have declined a lot in terms of values/norms as more driven/intelligent people have moved away, and my relatives are part of the Reformed or Mennonite traditions, depending on the branch of the family, so those religious communities affect my opinions of small town life. When people want to equate lack of money with low academic skill, I want to disagree, because many bright people from small towns come from families with little money. (The 1990 Pell Grant recipient/Rhodes scholar nominee I dated in college is a case in point. That combination doesn’t happen often.)

  16. ““If my children’s school became unsafe, I would quit my job and homeschool.” Definitely showing your privilege with that statement.

    “I don’t know anyone on this blog that wouldn’t pull their kids out of a situation similar to that described in the (biased) article.”

    Houston (since I opened the “privileged” can of worms”) – I completely agree that everyone on this blog would probably pull their kids from the school, go private, move or homeschool. (I am doing this exact thing with my kids. We decided to send them to private school for middle school.) And, I think that is a problem. This is our bubble.

    What got my ire up was a lack of acknowledgement of that privilege (and the tone/premise of the article). Honestly, when I started to read the article and the WCEs post, I thought she was trolling us. Why choose such an obviously biased article for discussion on this blog? That was my first thought. My second was – WCE is not a troll, just occasionally tone deaf on equity-based social issues. She may not realize how the post could come across. I can be quick to react/ respond and often wear my views on my sleeve. I have zero poker face. I wish I had taken a moment and responded more like LfB, but I didn’t, my initial reaction was visceral.

    What can you do? Be aware of your privilege, acknowledge it, imagine what you would do if you couldn’t homeschool, move or pull your kids from this school. How would you deal with this school if your kids had to go there? Now that would be an interesting discussion.

    At my kids elementary school, a band of parent worked together to remove the principal. She was awful and the new one is really turning the school around. What drove them to do that and how did they do it? Now that would be an interesting discussion.

    (going back to work now)

  17. I think everyone has biases too and training is important, but to think the solution is to take away a teacher’s ability to control their classroom is insane.

    I’m from a small town (although east coast beach town) and there are a lot of problems that are there that weren’t when I was growing up. The big one is heroine and opiate addiction but the larger problem is there just aren’t enough well paying jobs to raise a family there for anyone that’s college educated (except for those that are teachers, a few lawyers and doctors).

  18. that coastal people (as shown on this blog today) are unwilling to engage with the perceptions of people like my rural relatives (who mostly have never been to NYC, D.C., L.A. or San Francisco) is part of why the country is divided.

    I’m totally lost. Engage in what way?

  19. Meme,

    The key takeaway from that article is the value of diversification. Why did they keep all their eggs in one basket. They should have sold, set up a family office, and lived happily (more or less) ever after.

  20. I subbed for a while in a racially diverse and economically deprived school district for awhile as a math teacher . In month , and I only stayed one month ,I called 911 from my classroom twice . Once to have a student removed ( he was arrested for outstanding warrants and battery ) as he entered the classroom late , pulled a fellow male student out of his seat and began beating his classmate . Other classmates pulled the ageressor off his victim and sat on him while we waited for the police to arrive . I later was told the student had been tardy because he was being scolded by a vice principal for ripping the shirt off a female student second period . I called 911 rather than security because that’s what I had been advised to do earlier in the day by a fellow teacher . My other 911 call was to have drug dealers , who declined to leave , removed from a classroom on a Friday afternoon. The dealers were there getting their sales force organized for the weekend . Nearly every male student and a couple of the girls left in cuffs.
    I was offered a job which I declined to take although I enjoyed most of the kids many of whom I knew through a tutoring center where I continue to volunteer . The schools are still poorly run some 15 years later , the tutoring center remains too busy and I send my children to a private school for which we pay some 25K . This system is not fair to anyone .

  21. “I posted it in part because I think the fact that coastal people (as shown on this blog today) are unwilling to engage with the perceptions of people like my rural relatives (who mostly have never been to NYC, D.C., L.A. or San Francisco) is part of why the country is divided.”

    That’s not what the post said. The post on first read appears to assume that the article accurately portrays the problems and solutions (including the problems with the described solution). If you meant something different, I missed that.

    Had the post said, “this article really reflects what a lot of my relatives believe about ‘inner-city’ schools — do you think this is an accurate perception? Why or why not? How can we bridge this divide?” my answer would have been completely different.

  22. Atlanta,

    I’m also mystified by suspensions being a punishment. It’s like if you missed the deadline on the Johnson project and your boss said, “This is terrible! As punishment you don’t have to come in tomorrow.” Am I fired? No. Will it effect by pay? No. Oh, then sweet!

  23. Rhett: If you don’t like suspensions, what would you propose as an alternative? I think the suspensions are not meant to benefit the wrong-doer, but to allow the other kids to learn.

  24. Houston – my kids were accepted at a private school and we decided to go for it (with much trepidation) starting next year (5th grade). I may not be able to retire. ;)

    The big rush to switch is at 6th grade (many privates don’t even accept applications for 4th or 5th) so we wanted to get them in asap to avoid the rush and to give them time to acclimate to having different teachers, having lockers, being in separate classes for the first time ever, etc. We’ll reevaluate after a year. We can still always apply to the “lottery” type public schools for middle school (6th) or move.

  25. My sister is a teacher and she is frustrated about having to teach kids who don’t want to be there. It hurts the education experience for everyone else. I get what she is saying but what are the consequences of not having kids go to school? I don’t have any solutions.

    Congrats Kerri on getting into a school!

  26. “The key takeaway from that article is the value of diversification.”

    I’d argue that the key takeaway is to keep your hubris in check and to treat your business like a business. Developing a successful company does not mean that you have some massive genetic ability that others do not have; it means that you, personally, had an exceptional combination of talent, skill, ability, intelligence, people skills, support, timing, and luck. Ergo, there is no reason to believe that Uncle Joe will run the business any better than Joe-off-the-street merely because he shares your gene pool and Y chromosome. If you want the business to become a multi-generational dynasty, hire the best-qualified people to run it.

    Or, if you just want the money to last, then like Rhett said, sell it, give each immediate descendant a trust of some sort, and let folks figure out how to live off the proceeds (or use them for their own endeavors). Some will blow it all, but a few may use it appropriately.

  27. I think the fact that coastal people (as shown on this blog today) are unwilling to engage with the perceptions of people like my rural relatives (who mostly have never been to NYC, D.C., L.A. or San Francisco) is part of why the country is divided.

    Oh of course, as usual, everything is the progressives’ fault. It’s not your relatives’ responsibility to become less ignorant, no, of course not.

    And now I’m also out.

  28. Rhett: If you don’t like suspensions, what would you propose as an alternative?

    In school suspension.

  29. It has become increasingly clear that there are 2 different realities and visions for our country. I don’t think there is any way these topics are going to go well among this group.

  30. LfB, regarding, “Had the post said, “this article really reflects what a lot of my relatives believe about ‘inner-city’ schools — do you think this is an accurate perception? Why or why not? How can we bridge this divide?” my answer would have been completely different.”

    Maybe that would have been a better introduction. As far as I can tell, Lemon (who has experience with the district) was the only one to believe at first reading that the article might be a largely accurate description of the problems in St Paul schools.

    In retrospect, for *this blog*, your expectation might be a fair one. It is fair, in terms of this blog, to consider me tone-deaf on issues of social equity, But I can assure you that I am derided in my cultural/religious circles for being too liberal. Concern for social equity is a pretty high level concern, compared to paying the bills or having your children physically safe at school. The people who consider me too liberal are focused on the latter, there are a lot of them, and they vote.

  31. Here parents who are interested in a what they perceive to be a better situation for their kids move them to charters or magnets. This is especially the case with middle class families of all races who have the ability to navigate the various choices.
    The second thing I would say is that it is hard to keep order in schools.
    My kid’s school though strict and having Totebaggy parents, on a daily basis there is constant challenge from the students and potential for disruptive behavior which impacts learning.
    I have talked to former middle school teachers and the first thing they brought up was discipline issues. Not the pay or the administration.

  32. Congrats Kerri. With managing the process for two kids, it must have been especially challenging.

  33. Maybe that would have been a better introduction. As far as I can tell, Lemon (who has experience with the district) was the only one to believe at first reading that the article might be a largely accurate description of the problems in St Paul schools.

    Lemon, you stated that the district is a hot mess. I believe that. Do you also believe the main point of the article, which is that black kids are all thugs and there is no bias at all, none whatsoever, in the implementation of punishments?

  34. I would like to see classroom populations of 10 -12 students , clean buildings and more social workers . I think if the public system could/ would invest more direct dollars in kids , institute a longer school day the scary behaviors I saw kids in my local system wouldn’t happen . Teachers should be able to teach , there should be enough order for kids to learn at school , rather than in donated space with volunteer instructors .

  35. It’s easy to act outraged about the biased nature of the article when nobody here would ever dream of sending their children to one of these schools. Send your own kids to private school, and as long as you congratulate yourself for recognizing your own “privilege,” then you know that you’re a good person. Even better, criticize others for not acknowledging their own privilege to your approved level.

    If an ill-conceived progressive initiative turned out to be a disaster, don’t bother considering why it failed. Just call the critics racist. It’s an easy way to shut people up. It’s not like the disaster affects you, anyway.

  36. The people who consider me too liberal are focused on the latter, there are a lot of them, and they vote.

    Let me see if I understand where you and they are coming from. If AA kids are being singled out unfairly and being punished more harshly than white or Asian kids, while not ideal, it’s a minor concern compared to the need for a safe and orderly classroom.

  37. Louise and WCE – my blue collar upstate NY family often laments the lack of discipline of kids these days, placing the blame squarely on parenting standards today. The lament goes something like – back in my day, I’d get smacked if I ever cursed/was disrespectful/ [fill in blank] in front of my parents/teacher/adults. Kids these days have no respect. Then they go on to tell a story about how they broke the rules and didn’t get caught or broke the rules and were super harshly punished.

    Now, I don’t agree with raising your kids to behave based on fear of physical punishment and intimidation, but I will confess that I am often appalled at how other parents (don’t) discipline their kids. I am considered strict by my friends/neighbors and too lax by my family. (My parents were super strict.)

  38. WCE, you just need to remember to say things very carefully when speaking with people of another culture. Also, try and avoid talking about hot button issues or anything that liberals may take offense at. This topic really belonged on the political thread, IMO.

    You are right to remind us all that there is a large part of the country that thinks in a different way, but as others have said, we are in a Totebag bubble and we kind of like it here.

  39. This really has to be moved to the politics thread. And my stepson went to public high school with (gasp) black kids.

  40. Hey 12:19 – remind me again who is always arguing to lower taxes and take money away from public schools. Thanks!

  41. WCE, you just need to remember to say things very carefully when speaking with people of another culture. Also, try and avoid talking about hot button issues or anything that liberals may take offense at.

    I think we all know and respect WCE enough to cut her some slack and take any posts or comments in the spirit they are given. I think trying to engage and persuade is a better option than checking out or jumping to the worst possible conclusion.

  42. Minneapolis St. Paul Schools spend 40% more per pupil than the national average, and 30% more than the Minnesota average.

    Try again.

  43. Houston, fair point. And whomever, next time I’ll post something like this to the politics thread.

    I saw and then sent this article on a day that the virtue of being open-minded was under discussion. Maybe unfairly, I have higher standards for open-mindedness from people who profess to value it than for people who don’t profess to value it.

    Kerri’s comment about her relatives reminds me of my Dad’s observations about the people who misbehaved and got kicked out of school when he was in school. “They got sent to Korea, or later Vietnam, where they either died or learned what real problems looked like. If they came home, they had mostly straightened up.”

  44. Anonymous – since that was clearly directed at me – really no need to be anonymous – you and I are just voices on the intranet, we don’t really know each other – you know nothing about me and what I have done for the local schools in my community.

    My kids’ school is shutting down their elementary school. I stood up at the public meeting with the DOE criticizing them for taking away a good school choice for ALL the parents in the district. I pointed out that NO parent would want to send their kid to a failing school, unsafe school, or school with abysmal academics and criticized them for continuing to fail our community by allowing such crappy schools to still exist.

    I give my time and money to my community every chance I get. My kids go to a minority majority public school. We live it. You don’t know me or my kids or what is best for them or us.
    I fully realize and acknowledge how privileged and lucky I am and have said so publicly.

    Back the fuck off.

    (This isn’t the political thread, is it?)

  45. Rhett: WCE’s relatives have been called ignorant and it’s been implied that she’s racist. My advice is correct that there are certain things that conservatives and liberals can’t talk about.

  46. “I have higher standards for open-mindedness from people who profess to value it than for people who don’t profess to value it.”

    My dear, you are wrong. We are just as hypocritical and narrow minded as everyone else. : )

  47. Wasn’t there a conversation a few months ago that we were too boring and needed more edginess on the blog? Ha! I think we all want to go back to being boring. Is anyone buying a new minivan that they need advice on???

  48. I agree with Houston. WCE I appreciate the article – I honestly had not heard of this.

    Anon @ 12:30 – I also remember reading a post mortem on all of the $ that Mark Zuckerberg gave to the Newark schools and how it really didn’t change much. So more money isn’t necessarily the answer but I’m perplexed that schools don’t operate in a “what has worked elsewhere” mentality. All of this let’s try this method that has never been proven to work on an entire district is really unfair to teachers and students.

  49. “It has become increasingly clear that there are 2 different realities and visions for our country. I don’t think there is any way these topics are going to go well among this group.”

    Sure there is. You present it as “here is the perception *on my side*” — not as an accepted truth. We’ve discussed much more contentious issues than this civilly.

    In an attempt to move past the specific annoying article and engage in reasonable discussion, I would actually be really interested in an analysis of various approaches to see which work, which don’t, and who the winners and losers are of each. I think much of the problem of schools in poor districts is driven from the generational poverty of its attendees. So how do you give the many, many good kids the best chance of breaking out of that cycle? How do you trade off the competing goals of “keep kids in school” with “don’t let disruptive kids interfere with others’ education”? Part of that must involve not overreacting to minor offenses; but part of it also must include maintaining order in the classroom so that the other kids can learn. Certainly, some methods have to have done better than others at getting kids to graduation and into decent jobs or college — we have a whole country’s worth of public schools, and many years of experience with various charter school approaches, all of which we could analyze to find some best practices.

    I do think a lot of this goes back to “zero tolerance,” where it seems like we went from things like detention to suspensions overnight — there doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between option or scaled discipline approach any more, no sense of proportion. I mean, of *course* kids who are actively dealing drugs in the classroom should be removed — but in our current world, kids also get suspended for bringing lemon drops to school. How are these things treated with equal degrees of seriousness? I think we would do much better with a more thoughtful, scaled disciplinary approach that actually attempts to give kids both the incentives and the tools to behave appropriately before just resorting to kicking them out for X period of time. I think that is something those “coaches” were supposed to help with, to help the kid understand and adjust the underlying root cause of the behavior and learn different ways to respond; obviously, that works only if you hire actually qualified people for those roles and implement consistent responses.

    So, in sum, I do not think that “thugs” should be kept in class — that just prevents everyone from learning. But I do think that black kids get labeled as “thugs” much, much more quickly than white kids, and get disparate responses for the same behavior. So I think there needs to be some combination of education on implicit biases and cultural assumptions + a reasonable discipline structure that allows teachers to remove disruptive kids from the classroom (without, if possible, removing them from school entirely) + some reasonable degree of review/oversight over disciplinary decisions to try to keep people honest.

    Discuss.

  50. All – I apologize for swearing. While I think the author of that article is racist, I do not believe WCE or her relatives are racist. I apologize if what I said implied that. I did not mean to imply that.

  51. A thought on bias – I went to school in a country where we were all the same race. So, race was out of the equation. What differed was our religion and community groups within those religions.
    But there were instances where it was felt fairly or unfairly that the teacher was biased towards certain students because of class, community group, religion. Bias and the perception of bias is hard to eradicate.

  52. Entering the fray late… My KY middle school had a lot of those problems, maybe not quite as bad, but still pretty bad. We had classroom invasions, big fights in the hallways, and a serious drug problem. It was a school in a working class neighborhood, about 70% white, 30% black. The problems were pretty distributed among both groups. My parents and other families like ours just put up with it. In those days, most people didn’t think to change schools. People with more money sent their kids to one of two private schools, but that wasn’t an option for most families. I didn’t like it but I survived. Nowdays, with more money and privilege, we wouldn’t send our kids to a school like that, but we would have researched it before buying a house anyway. One of the big reasons we didn’t even bother to look in Yonkers.

  53. “If an ill-conceived progressive initiative turned out to be a disaster, don’t bother considering why it failed. Just call the critics racist. It’s an easy way to shut people up. It’s not like the disaster affects you, anyway.”

    JFC. And if said progressives refuse to accept blatant spin as the Uncontrovertable Truth, don’t bother considering whether they might have a point. Just call them hypocrites. It’s an easy way to shut people up. It’s not like the disaster affects you, anyway.

  54. Wasn’t there a conversation a few months ago that we were too boring and needed more edginess on the blog? Ha!

  55. LfB, comment. When I read this article, I acknowledged the likely existence of racial bias in punishment, and thought of the problem with these numbers. “Suppose 98% of Asian American kids are sufficiently well-behaved, 97% of white kids are sufficiently well-behaved and 96% of African American kids are sufficiently well-behaved. That would result in a 2x discrepancy in suspension rates between Asian American and African Americans, as observed. Resolving that discrepancy by changing suspension policies affects the education of all those well-behaved kids, who are the overwhelming majority of all races.”

    (My imaginary analysis included no Hispanic, Alaska/Native Pacific Islander or multiracial kids for simplicity.)

  56. The article was extremely one sided. There is a problem with bias in discipline and just general attitudes towards black and Hispanic boys. I have a good friend who is black, who has a son the same age as my oldest (they were born 1 day apart). Her kid is nice, smart, and from a very stable, intellectual family. Her kid has some issues, same as mine. Yet their trajectory has been somewhat different, and I attribute a lot of that to bias. Reactions to similar problems – not handing in homework or mouthing off – is just so different. My kid has suffered a lot from the “smart but lazy” stereotype, but hers doesn’t even get the “smart” part of the stereotype. And as a teen, he looks, well, urban, much like many of my own students, and people in the schools just get defensive right off the bat when dealing with teens that look that way.

    That being said, schools can go too far the other way, and then the school just becomes miserable for everyone. And as my middle school shows, you don’t even have to have things like “equity discipline” for the problems to happen – my middle school was very conservative and we even had paddling. Suspensions were rampant and never worked – the suspended kids loved it.

  57. That would result in a 2x discrepancy in suspension

    That’s correct. The problem is the discrepancy is 4x or 6x when only 2x can be justified by behavior.

  58. Discuss

    Might help to video the classrooms and periodically review the behavior of all the kids. Do the white kids get glared at when they mouth off, but the black kids get sent to detention? That kind of thing.

  59. This discussion reminds me of Thirteenth, a terrific documentary currently on Netflix. It’s about the prison industrial complex and its disproportionate impact on people of color. Highly recommend.

  60. Rocky, to be honest, I didn’t find the article as being racist, probably because all the examples the author used where big news stories here, so I was familiar with it, and really just glanced over the piece. I will say that within the first few paragraphs I was surprised that the Asian demographic wasn’t discussed (it was briefly mentioned later on and I think glossed over). The Asian population, as was mentioned, are not the Tiger moms Totebaggers are familiar with. There are a lot of gang problems among the males, and I believe the drop out rate for males is pretty high. The author would have a better story to tell if the other 30% was discussed. I think using the term “thugs” was to get readers.

  61. One of the reasons my DD has been physically hurt by other kids so often at school is that there is no consequence that the aggressors respect: our elementary school does not take away recess or keep kids after school anymore.

    At the most, the child is given a stern talking to by a school administrator. The kids have figured out that nothing substantive is going to change.

    So why would they stop punching my kid, when it’s fun to watch her cry?

    There are days when I consider leaving and putting her in a private school or homeschooling her, because it is very, very difficult.

  62. The tone of the article was fairly offputting. There has been a lot of talk locally about the racial bias of suspension rates. I am generally not a fan of suspension for children through Grade 2 – if there is really egregious behavior, there should be other interventions that are considered well before suspension. I read this article and thought it seemed an interesting alternative for schools. http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/04/health/meditation-in-schools-baltimore/

  63. Late to this discussion, but wondering if there is another “perspective” to explain these sorts of data points:

    “December 4, 2015, marked a turning point. That day, at Central High School, a 16-year-old student body-slammed and choked a teacher, John Ekblad, who was attempting to defuse a cafeteria fight. Ekblad was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. In the same fracas, an assistant principal was punched repeatedly in the chest and left with a grapefruit-size bruise on his neck. At a press conference the next day, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi branded rising student-on-staff violence “a public health crisis.” Assaults on St. Paul school staff reported to his office tripled in 2015, compared with 2014, and were up 36 percent over the previous four-year average. Attacks on teachers continued unabated in the months that followed. In March, for example, a Como Park High teacher was assaulted during a classroom invasion over a drug deal, suffered a concussion, and required staples to close a head wound.”

  64. The article also referred to a peer-reviewed empirical study:

    “In 2014, a groundbreaking study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by J. P. Wright and others discredited both these claims. The study utilized the largest sample of school-aged children in the nation. Unlike almost all previous studies, it controlled for individual differences in student behavior over time. Using this rigorous methodology, the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” Racial differentials in suspension rates, they found, appeared to be “a function of differences in problem behaviors that emerge early in life, that remain relatively stable over time, and that materialize in the classroom.”

    Here is a link to that study, at least in working paper form.
    https://c8.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/pdf_article_040214_KC_HeatherMac.pdf

    So, putting aside the tone of the City Journal article, are the underlying facts reported incorrectly or incompletely?

  65. So why would they stop punching my kid, when it’s fun to watch her cry?

    Sky – if you have exhausted the normal administration channels, which it seems like you have, if I were in your shoes and had other options I would consider them.
    I get so angry hearing things like this.

  66. Assaults on St. Paul school staff reported to his office tripled in 2015, compared with 2014, and were up 36 percent over the previous four-year average.

    That strikes me as odd. Tripled year to year but only 36% above the moving average?

    a 16-year-old student body-slammed and choked a teacher…assaulted during a classroom invasion over a drug deal,

    It seem like a lot more needs to be involved than just a suspension.

  67. Scarlett, the point is that it’s racist to try to hold black students to the same standards as other students. You’re a racist because you don’t understand that their culture makes them act that way. If black students are suspended at higher rates, it’s not because they disrupt school and commit offenses at higher rates, it’s because the teachers are biased in the way they view their behavior. A white student who body slams and chokes a teacher would just be seen as spirited and the whole incident would be laughed off.

    The same is true for society in general. Black men commit murders at seven times the rate whites do for no other reason than the fact that the cops are racist.

  68. Scarlett, if that is the case than wouldn’t you see the disparity in suspension and prison rates for black people consistently across the globe? And if not, what is different about what is happening in the households in America that causes the disparity to only occur here?

  69. Using this rigorous methodology, the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.

    It’s the “no” and “completely” that sets off my bullshit detector. Also, “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student” if the study is about bias how can you claim to explain away the bias by including previous instances of what may be bias?

  70. That article was powerful, and had plenty of data to back up the author’s point that the St. Paul approach wasn’t working. The Journal of Criminal Justice research was particularly compelling. It is therefore surprising to see so many extremely negative reactions here. Were the JCJ researchers also infected by bias, and unable for that reason to conduct an accurate statistical study?

  71. A white student who body slams and chokes a teacher would just be seen as spirited and the whole incident would be laughed off.

    It would be explained away with sensory integration disorder, ASD, PTSD etc. The team would meet with the parent, therapist, etc. with the next steps noted in the IEP. If he were a totebag kid he’d be drugged up with lithium, Librium, etc.

  72. “And if not, what is different about what is happening in the households in America that causes the disparity to only occur here?”

    Could it possibly be this? (from the end of the City Journal piece)_

    “The deepest source of the racial-equity discipline gap is profound differences in family structure. Young people who grow up without fathers are far more likely than their peers to engage in antisocial behavior, according to voluminous social-science research. Disordered family life often promotes the lack of impulse control and socialization that can lead to school misconduct. The City of St. Paul does not make out-of-wedlock birth data public. However, Intellectual Takeout, a Minnesota-based public-policy institution, has determined through a FOIA request to the Minnesota Department of Health that 87 percent of births to black, U.S.-born mothers in St. Paul occur out of wedlock, compared with 30 percent of white births. Tragically, the problem we confront is not so much a school-to-prison pipeline as a home-to-prison pipeline.”

  73. research was particularly compelling.

    Explain to me the logic behind explaining away bias by citing previous instances of what may be bias?

  74. One thing I don’t understand about racism against people with black skin is that most analyses suggest that racism affects African Americans but not people in the United States from Africa or the West Indies. To the extent that the analyses are accurate (they could be biased by small sample size or some other factor), I suspect multigenerational cultural effects due to slavery.

  75. “It’s the “no” and “completely” that sets off my bullshit detector.”

    Maybe, but the CJC is a respected publication. Five minutes on Google didn’t lead me to any research taking issue with the methodology or conclusions of that paper, but perhaps it’s out there. It would be interesting to take a look at it.

  76. What Rhett said. “the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” ”

    And of course the observation of previous problem behaviors had no racial bias, because they were previous. Yes, Scarlett, that’s a very powerful argument.

  77. Sky – so very sorry to hear about your daughter being bullied.

    I read the article as racist because of the use of thugs basically meaning black students. The tone was offputting too. Do I think it was the best policy? No. Do I think black students encounter more bias than white students? Yes. Do I think this is an issue only in intercity schools? No. The incident Scarlett mentioned was well-publicized. My sister, who teaches in a suburban district, has said that she has seen violence against teachers in the middle school where she teaches and nothing is really done.

  78. Sky, did you used to be a lawyer? Can you threaten the school with a lawsuit? Sometimes that wakes them up.

  79. Here is an explanation of how the prior problem behavior was measured:

    To measure early and stable problem behavior, we employ Gresham
    and Elliott’s (1990) widely used Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS).
    The SSRS uses a Likert scale ranging from 1-4 (1 = Never exhibits this
    behavior; 4 = Very often/exhibits behavior most of the time). Parents
    and teachers provided a score for each item within each scale. The
    mean of these items was then used for the total score on each specific
    scale. Teacher reports of the SSRS were available from the kindergarten
    through the fifth-grade waves of data. The ECLS-K also employed a
    parent-reported SSRS, but only for the kindergarten and first-grade
    years. Therefore, we used teacher-reported measures of prior problem
    behavior. Teacher reports have proven to be highly efficient, valid, and
    reliable accounts of student behavior (Cairns & Cairns, 1994).
    Our measure of teacher-reported prior problem behavior utilized
    data from kindergarten, first, and third-grades only and is the sum of
    the four SSRS scales: self-control, interpersonal skills, externalizing problem
    behaviors, and approaches to learning. These scales tap a wide range
    of behaviors such as controlling one’s temper, responding appropriately
    to pressure from peers, expressing thoughts and feelings appropriately,
    attentiveness, impulsivity, unnecessary arguing, disturbing ongoing
    classroom activities, and fighting. While some of the items that compose
    the subscales of the SSRS are attitudinal, studies have shown that measuring
    traits and behaviors with attitudinal measures is appropriate
    (see Pratt & Cullen, 2000). The SSRS scales have been used in a number
    of prior studies examining self-control and analogous problem behaviors
    (Beaver & Wright, 2007; Lamont & Van Horn, 2013; Vaughn, DeLisi,
    Beaver, & Wright, 2009; Wright & Beaver, 2005).

  80. Sky – I second RMS suggestion of a lawyer.
    Politically not correct but I have told both my kids that if that if ever they are physically pushed/punched/jostled repeatedly, and if the time taken by the school to respond is too long they have my permission to defend themselves. They do take martial arts which can be used in self defense when talk fails.

  81. That doesn’t demonstrate anything. The teachers can still be assessing all those behaviors differently if the students are black and if they’re white. Or Asian.

  82. Teacher reports have proven to be highly efficient, valid, and reliable accounts of student behavior (Cairns & Cairns, 1994).

    Can you find the Carins & Carins study? I’d be interested to see their methodology.

    In findings presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, and first reported on the website Inside Higher Ed, researchers from Metropolitan State University of Denver claim to have found that female students who are considered attractive received higher course grades and less attractive students received lower ones.

    The idea that this occurs but racial bias has no impact is kind of hard to swallow.

    http://www.newsweek.com/attractive-college-students-get-higher-grades-412026

  83. I think there is some evidence that bias exists sometimes in persons of authority with regards to people of color. I think it’s a good idea to try to fight it with training, reviews of individuals’ disciplinary actions, and there should be serious consequences when a teacher is found to be acting on their bias. I just don’t agree with this idea of mandating equal statistical outcomes or even assuming unequal outcomes as evidence of bias. I think it separates the actual events and individuals from their own judgment and individual circumstances. In fact, I think it’s kind of racist in a perverse way.

  84. “These scales tap a wide range
    of behaviors such as controlling one’s temper, responding appropriately
    to pressure from peers, expressing thoughts and feelings appropriately,
    attentiveness, impulsivity, unnecessary arguing, disturbing ongoing
    classroom activities, and fighting.”

    These are the behaviors being measured. How likely is it that sufficient numbers of teachers (of all races and ethnic groups) are consistently unable accurately to assess these behaviors in black children as opposed to children of other races?

  85. At my children’s school, I observe that girls have, on average, 50% more stickers for good behavior than boys. I believe boys are MORE likely to receive a sticker for a given level of problematic behavior than girls with the same behavior problems, meaning I believe that girls probably *deserve* 75% more stickers for good behavior than boys. The superintendent, knowing I am the mother of 3 boys, told me he is asking the teachers to examine their behavior to determine WHY the boys are less well behaved. I informed the superintendent that boys are squirrelly and that even before they started school, my boys were beating the dead pinata with a stick while the girls in the class were coloring at a birthday party, so it’s probably not the teachers. I’m not sure he bought my explanation.

    Bias for/again a group and assessing behavior problems both have significant error bars.

  86. How likely is it that sufficient numbers of teachers (of all races and ethnic groups) are consistently unable accurately to assess these behaviors in black children as opposed to children of other races?

    It’s totally likely. I bet more attractive children are rated as being better behaved than plain looking children (they apparently get better grades for the same quality of work). It’s just human nature.

  87. Sky – I would move my child if I were in your shoes. At a certain point (especially when she’s only in elementary school) she needs to know that adults have her back. I am honestly floored at you not being able to get anywhere with the administration.

    People of course have biases and it’s impossible to really take them all away. I’m shocked that districts are still trying to implement this when it’s obvious it doesn’t work. And again, it’s admirable to try to take a stab at solving the problem, but why not do smaller pilot programs to see what sticks instead of implementing something district wide and then changing course.

  88. Rhett — I will put your post in the queue. (I thought deferred income annuities were already allowed in IRAs and the pending changes just make them more appealing in employer plans.)

  89. Ada – thanks for posting that article. This paragraph caught my eye:

    “Teachers had received little or no training on de-escalation techniques to use in their classrooms. Each school interpreted the new discipline rules differently. And in a district of 20,000 mostly poor kids, a single truancy officer was employed to ensure they attended class.”

  90. One of the questions that I ask is why everyone (not you guys, but the general public) always wants to go back to punishments that are not effective. Bring back suspensions! Take away their recess! But in my experience, the really bad kids laugh at suspensions, and taking away recess from younger kids is actually known to be counterproductive – many of those kids are acting out because they need to be able to run around and get rid of some stress. My middle school believed firmly in paddling, which I think contributed to the culture of violence in that school.
    The question is, are there punishments that work and in particular, prevent the kid from moving to worse behavior.

  91. My middle school believed firmly in paddling,

    I can only imagine how many of the staff enjoyed it a little too much.

  92. From what I am getting from the various article it seems like the result of having kids who misbehave pulled out, working with academic and other counsolers etc. is almost a separate track where there is intensive focus on their underlying issues. It is a school within a school.

  93. Mooshi, I think parents who reinforce school discipline is key for kids who are defiant. Twin2 is challenging, and we don’t always handle it well. The principal was shocked this year when he threw a tantrum before pictures and called me. I told her to let it go that day but I would enforce proper behavior by taking off work and bringing him in before school for the picture retake day, which I did. (She happened to be there and observed my no-nonsense approach with him. Neither of us were sure he wouldn’t have another tantrum.)

    Last week, I got an e-mail from Twin2’s teacher when he came home with a large goose egg on his forehead. Another student had run into him (mostly by accident) and she didn’t realize how bad the injury was because Twin2 didn’t act like it was any big deal. I think that lack of concern for pain/consequences is an unchangeable part of who he is.

  94. In the realm of solutions, I recently took my 4 year old to a school district sponsored Kindergarten readiness event. They have received a grant and are attempting to implement a version of the Boston Basics Program (bonson.thebasics.org). The premise of the program is that 80% of brain development takes place in the first three years of life, and they’ve come up with five areas/categories for interacting with your child in order to maximize brain development. Most of them are pretty “duh” by Totebag standards (1.Maximize Love, Manage Stress, 2. Talk, Sing, and Point 3. Count, Group, and Compare 4. Explore through Movement and Play, and 5.Read and Discuss Stories.) but they set up stations and demonstrated how to implement these ideas with your children and I thought it was very well done. Each family also received a tote bag with books, a CD player with a sing along CD, building blocks, a ring with laminated cards with more ideas for implementation of the 5 categories and more (DS thought he’s won the lottery). There will be two more of these in the coming months and they emphasized that there would be a tote bag ‘o stuff every time and that it would be different stuff every time. Plus, they fed everyone dinner.

    It was a little awkward about five minutes into the introduction when I realized that my family wasn’t the target demographic for the program (we are the people they are trying to close the gap with). The school my kids go to is considered over 70% economically disadvantaged and is 77% white, 11% multi-racial, 8% Hispanic, 0% black, 2% Asian, 2% American Indian.

    Programs like this I thing would be amazing to target to high-risk populations (whatever their racial background) PRENATALLY. I get what the School District is trying to do (and I applaud them) but by the program’s own standards, targeting 3-5 year olds is almost too late.

  95. On MLK, Fresh Air aired an interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones titled “The Systematic Segregation of Schools” that I found very enlightening. I was going mention it when we had the discussion about DeVos and vouchers but that discussion became heated as well so I dropped it. But since where back around to a similar topic: The main point of her interview was school segregation will continue to exist in America “as long as individual parents continue to make choices that only benefit their own children.”

    I agree that for most people, and I include myself in this, when it comes to our children we want the best and aren’t willing to accept something we perceive as negative so someone else’s child can achieve a better outcome. Back when we discussed DeVos, I argued that many “working class” felt pushed by the “liberal elite” to accept polices that may harm their children or be called bigot, racist, homophobic all the while knowing people with money could opt out of said policies. If you’re a totebagger and you dissent, you’re told to check your privilege. As Americans we don’t seem to solve the problems but instead focus on pointing fingers at each other and placing blame. I don’t know the solutions but yelling at each other doesn’t seem to be working.

    In regards to the “thug” label, I agree it is racist and one that Hannah-Jones brings up in her interview within the last 7-10 minutes. But in her example, it is the progressive liberals (her description not mine) of Bronxville, NY who were throwing around those labels at the meeting regarding redistricting their special snowflakes into an elementary school (K-5) full of all those “thugs”.

    One of the reasons I come to this blog is I’m able to get different perspectives and opinions, which is the only way I’m able to evolve in my own thinking.

  96. I feel like commenting on this topic is wading into dangerous waters, so I am trying to answer carefully. The tone of the article right off the bat really put me off. I thought the author was operating from the position that it was obvious to her that the black kids are a problem and we’re trying to pretend it’s not. Measuring everything by race in schools is something that drives me crazy. Kids aren’t good or bad because of the amount of melanin in their skin, so we are labeling the problem wrong, which means we are not going to come up with the right solutions. It is very difficult to talk about problems in terms of students living in public housing, or students with chaotic home lives or whatever, because those statistics are much more difficult to gather. In a given community, if minorities are over-represented in very low income or violent neighborhoods, they will be over-represented in discipline referrals. The kids at my kids’ schools who were throwing chairs and cursing teachers were overwhelmingly white, as was the school demographic.

    I agree passionately that we should look at what has been proven to work and implement that. Honestly, the most effective thing for a school is being able to expel students who clearly want to be there. At DS school, they have 7am detention on Saturdays for kids who are causing problems. Parents have to signs contract that they agree to that at the time they enroll their student. Teachers are there to tutor and help with homework during that time. If you consistently don’t show up, you are free to choose a different school. At DD’s school, boys who fought got to head out to the track and run until the principal decided they had no energy left to fight. Again, if you didn’t like that you were free to leave. Public schools don’t have that option, and referring kids to the alternative school is undoubtedly infected with bias as well.

    There is simply no way a school can deal with full-grown teens who don’t want to be there and whose parents don’t care and don’t reinforce expected norms. The stuff in that article about the cultural differences was condescending and insulting. If someone set expectations that low for my children because they’re Irish so we know their parents are likely drunks, I would be livid. I have no idea what the answer is, but I think the kids who don’t want to be there must be physically segregated from the rest, and there have to be non-negotiable infractions that get you booted. I would think giving a teacher a concussion would be on that list. I agree with Rhett that in-school suspension is better, and after that alternative school. I’m fairly liberal and I am willing to admit this experiment was a colossal failure. So many well-intended programs end up making things worse. In this era of big data, we have to have enough info to fix this better.

  97. I’m fairly liberal and I am willing to admit this experiment was a colossal failure.

    I agree. The problem I have is with all the push back against the idea that there is even any bias to begin with. WCE’s sort of hinted that her relatives believe there is bias but the cure is worse than the disease, which is certainly a fair argument. But that there is zero bias?

  98. “JFC. ”

    If you meant what I think you mean by this, then you and RMS are in disagreement WRT the middle initial.

  99. Sky, the lack of consequences for your DD’s tormentors suggest there would similarly be a lack of consequences should she take matters into her own hands…..

    Have you considered MMA training for her?

  100. Sky, only half-kidding about MMA training. I’m on board with Louise WRT martial arts training.

    It’s been a while, but either here or TOS, I’ve mentioned that I had my kids take some martial arts training so they’d learn to fall without getting hurt. My mom did that for me and my sibs, and I can think of several instances in which I attribute minimal injury to that training.

    Another thing I learned, which I haven’t had occasion to use, but which may benefit your daughter, was how to minimize the impact of blows by slipping and deflecting them.

  101. Sky, if kids are physically assaulting your daughter and the school is doing nothing, go to the police and ask to file criminal charges against the kids. Also talk to a lawyer to see if you go after the school or the parents for civil damages.

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

  102. Used to Lurk said “In regards to the “thug” label, I agree it is racist and one that Hannah-Jones brings up in her interview within the last 7-10 minutes. But in her example, it is the progressive liberals (her description not mine) of Bronxville, NY who were throwing around those labels at the meeting regarding redistricting their special snowflakes into an elementary school (K-5) full of all those “thugs”.”

    What article is this? I can’t find it in the comments. When was Bronxville redistricting???

  103. OK, I see it was a Fresh Air piece. I went to the show site, but no transcript. There is a link to a NYTImes article, which is mostly about a very controversial (and well known) redistricting happening in Brooklyn. That redistricting is actuallly controversial with all the sets of parents – the white parents whose kids will be moved to Farragut, and the Farragut parents, mostly black, who fear that their kids will be lost in a sea of white kids and may end up being pushed out.

    The reason I am asking is because Bronxville is a microdistrict that controls all of its schools, which are so tiny they are all housed in one building: K through high school.

  104. “The problem I have is with all the push back against the idea that there is even any bias to begin with.”

    And the problem I have is with the push back against the JCJ article because it doesn’t support your assumption that discrepancies in school discipline rates *must* be based on bias rather than differences in problematic behaviors among various racial groups. Are there any reputable, data-based and peer-reviewed studies that support this assertion?

    “There is simply no way a school can deal with full-grown teens who don’t want to be there and whose parents don’t care and don’t reinforce expected norms.”

    Well, there may well be ways to deal with this problem that haven’t yet been identified.

  105. Sky, I’m so sorry about your school bus bullying issue. I can only imagine how enraging it must be. DS1 smacked another kid on the school bus last year and was promptly suspended for it (the other kid was his buddy who was trying to draw a mustache on his face with a ball point pen).

  106. in school discipline rates *must* be based on bias rather than differences in problematic behaviors among various racial groups.

    Where did I ever say that.? We’re talking about the real world where they can be both bias and differences in problematic behavior.

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  108. Our high school is 22% white; 55% of the kids are considered “at risk” and 49% are free lunch. DS feels safe there, but he definitely learned the ways of the world pretty quickly.

    Sky: So sorry for your situation. i hope things get better.

  109. The last two weeks have been better, but I’m still furious that it keeps happening.

    I’ve taken her off the bus and am driving her again, but I haven’t come up with a way to stop them from throwing rocks at her during recess. The recess supervisors are aware of the problem, but as soon as they turn their backs it begins again.

    Finn, I put her in martial arts a few years ago when you suggested it, and she’s close to junior black belt. She could knock them down if she wanted to, but she refuses to break the rules even in self-defense.

  110. Sky, that is just awful.
    But it shouldn’t be YOUR job to come up with a way to keep your child safe during recess. That is the job of the staff, and they are clearly failing.

  111. but I haven’t come up with a way to stop them from throwing rocks at her during recess

    Oh my God! The whole situation is just outrageous. I’m so, so sorry.

  112. Sky, I’m very sorry this is happening to your daughter. I’m trying to imagine myself in your place and thinking over what I would do. You’ve tried to address it with the school and you’ve taken her off the bus at times, things I’m sure I would have done. I’m not sure if I would cut and run at this point or continue to fight the school. Probably at the very least I would consult with an attorney and/or the police. Another thing is trying to gauge how hard the school is trying. If they seem to be trying their hands are tied (as in the OP article) I would take that into consideration but still my child’s safety is my primary concern. Please keep up updated.

  113. Sky – either you get her out of there or she has to defend herself. Once form of self defense is yelling loudly.

  114. She could knock them down if she wanted to, but she refuses to break the rules even in self-defense.

    Have you explained to her unwritten rules? The school is screaming at her that it wants her to beat the kid up so he stops. They are desperate for her to do it.

  115. I would seriously consider sending a certified letter to the principal, explaining in the most lawyerly possible language that because the school has failed to keep her safe, you have instructed your child to take appropriate steps to defend herself and that you expect that the school will not punish her.

  116. Sky, I’ll say it again – if kids are physically assaulting her and the school is doing nothing, go to the police. They might blow you off, but hopefully they will at least talk to the kids and their parents and give them a warning. It should also get the school off their butts to do something if the police are involved.

  117. If the same set of students are going to continue into middle school this could mean trouble. Middle school gets more tricky to navigate and a lot more misbehavior from fallen angels or continuing devils.

  118. Sky – I remember being in 3rd grade and having a rock throwing contest with my friend at recess (we weren’t throwing rocks at anyone, we were just idiotically trying to see who could throw it the furthest) and she hit a girl in the eye. We both missed recess for the whole week, my friend had to write a written apology letter to the girl she hit and both of our parents raked us over the coals. Can you talk to the parents of the kid(s) with the principal? I would want to know if my child was being a bully.

  119. I’m going to take some video of DD knocking over her large martial arts instructor and giving him a few good whacks, and show it in a school assembly. (Kidding, kidding. Mostly.)

    The school administrators all know I’m a lawyer, I know what my options are, and I am holding off while giving the administration an opportunity to respond. If it happens again there will be a meeting.

  120. A slight hijack – We talk about data and anecdotes a lot on this sight and joke about how easily manipulated it is, and yet ask for research and data on every conceivable issue.

    1. You do know I am at work when I post and otherwise am busy with my family. I really don’t have time to research every issue and gather data for every point of view. Is this sight a debate site and I should be better prepared or is it a conversational site where less homework is required?

    2. Do you really think there is credible, vetted data and research on every angle of issues? I don’t. Does not having that data sway your view?

    3. How do you deal with issues in the absence of data?

  121. At least it’s not the good old days, Sky, where your daughter would have been blamed for being a “natural victim” and the other kids would be let off the hook because “that’s just human nature”. I remember one girl (this is 50 years ago, when men were men and women were girls and a paddlin’ was a paddlin’) who was getting rocks thrown at her and the yard duty said, “okay, boys, just one shot each”.

  122. Sky – I would not hold off if kids are assaulting your child. The recess monitors are not doing their job if children are throwing rocks at other children.

    My son was attacked by another student with a pencil yesterday – the kid has poor impulse control and was annoyed at my son’s chatter and poked him hard enough several times that it went through his shorts and hurt him enough that he didn’t want to sit down for awhile. Didn’t break skin but the kid has consistently been a behavior problem all year. Our principal and the school nurse seemed appropriately horrified. I am hoping that the situation will be dealt with but another child in our class stabbed a younger child with a pencil in the hand and it was bleeding and the kid didn’t even get a one day suspension (claimed it was an accident). Lots of special snowflakes at our school with little accountability.

  123. Kerri,
    1) I don’t expect people to bring data. I expect people to interact with information that contradicts their worldview and to either ignore it (if they don’t have time to deal with it) or to do a Google search to gain understanding. For example, one day someone mentioned the $60k/student funding levels at Kiryas Joel and how those funding levels could never be audited, even though they were inconsistent with other state funding levels for schools. Not knowing what Kiryas Joel is, I Googled and learned that it’s a community of Hasidic Jews and perceived that auditing funding levels could be perceived as anti-Semitic. I chose not to pursue my questions further, but that’s an example of where a reference that is geographically specific can be confusing to some people and follow-up questions can easily be perceived as racist/anti-Semitic when they are not intended that way.

    2) No, I don’t think there is credible, vetted research on every angle of issues. Research has to be funded, which means the least politically correct research doesn’t get done. In the absence of conflicting data, I assume my personal prejudices are largely correct. One source of disagreement on this blog is assuming that because someone believes something is A cause or factor, it is THE cause. Maybe we should have a discussion some day about multicollinearity.

    3) I deal with issues based on values and personal experience in the absence of data. (which is rare, if I’m serious about finding data) In my view, people here value, for example, personal freedom and gender equality more highly than I do. I think Meme (?) pointed out to me that I am more willing to accept strictures in those areas than many Totebaggers because I value compliance to religious community norms even when those norms don’t fit an individual’s (my!) personality. It helped me realize I’m an outlier in that area and why I have so much internal conflict there.

  124. “I deal with issues based on values and personal experience in the absence of data.”

    Anecdata are data.

  125. 1. I think this is a conversation site, but, there is a wide variety of experience, world views, and specific geographic experience, and terms that mean different things in different parts of the country. It might help civility all around to ask what someone actually meant when they use a term that someone else finds objectionable before taking offense. There are people from many different cultures here, and words, terms and phrasing that may be acceptable in one are not ok in another.

    2. Do you really think there is credible, vetted data and research on every angle of issues? No. data gathering and analysis are expensive and often research funding occurs to further a specific aim. In addition, even when there is data, there are issues with errors in measurement, multicollinearity, confusion between causality and correlation, difficulty in determining the direction of causality. In addition, given the randomness in the universe, any possible outcome can occur, which is why research needs to be replicated to diminish the probability that any specific outcome is the result of a causal relationship rather than a random occurrence.When I do read research, I pay attention to the techniques used to manipulate data, what bias the authors have shown in the past, and their willingness to engage with information that does not readily comport to their existing world view.

    3. How do you deal with issues in the absence of data? I have found that most decisions occur in the absence of data, or with incomplete data. In most cases, I try to use Occam’s Razor, the most simple explanation is likely the correct one. I try to deal with issues based on my values and life experience, hopefully leavened with the realization that my experience is not universal. I value personal freedom, and generally work off the assumption that people respond to incentives, and that they value their own utility/wellbeing higher than any one else values their well being. I also tend to believe that the world has always been going to h3ll in a handbasketm but has never gotten there and that technology has been, on balance, a force for good in the world.

  126. “It might help civility all around to ask what someone actually meant when they use a term that someone else finds objectionable before taking offense. ”

    I agree and will think about this more when posting. WCE and I had/are having an offline conversation about the word “thug” (amongst other things) because we both had very different interpretations about how that word was being used.

  127. Having always lived in communities that are 90%+ white, I had no idea the word “thug” had a racial connotation. Where I live, thugs are white.

  128. “Having always lived in communities that are 90%+ white, I had no idea the word “thug” had a racial connotation. Where I live, thugs are white.”

    I am sorry but that should be literally impossible if you are under the age of 45 and have ever watched TV or read or listened to the news in this country. I think you are my age or a few years younger and while I admittedly grew up in a far more diverse area, we both at least grew up in a time when MTV actually played videos and hip hop and rap were played on radio stations outside of coastal cities. Even if you did not imply a racial connotation, the word has been use as a synonym of gangster or criminal since the 1930’s.

  129. “the word has been use as a synonym of gangster or criminal since the 1930’s”

    I don’t doubt that, but I think of thug as gangster or criminal or bully or similar of any race. I’m older than 45, and people around me have used frequently that term to apply to any race. I keep on top of the news and have watched music videos, but admitted don’t pay much attention to music lyrics. Maybe I’m in a bubble of sorts, but then so are most other people.

  130. I know that some people believe thug has a racial connotation, but I have probably thought of it as excessively PC and as I said around me people have used it for years to apply to any race. Is there a particular history, like paddy wagon or gypsies or similar words that have either started out as ethnic labels or long used to refer to a particular group? If so, I’m ignorant of it.

  131. I’m 35, and while I’m definitely aware of “thug” being used in a gangster rap context, around here (which is in relatively close proximity to WCE), it’s applied to criminals across all races.

  132. MCWHORTER: That was the original meaning. It changed though. One of the things that Americans have a whole lot of trouble with – actually, that people in developed societies with written languages have trouble with – is that words never keep their meanings over time. A word is a thing on the move. A word is a process. And that’s what’s so confusing about the N-word. And that’s what’s so confusing now about this word, thug. Any discussion where we pretend that it only means one thing is just going to lead to dissension and confusion.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/04/30/403362626/the-racially-charged-meaning-behind-the-word-thug

  133. “Any discussion where we pretend that it only means one thing is just going to lead to dissension and confusion.”

    So a word can have different meanings and we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the speaker was using it in our preferred meaning. That makes sense.

  134. Sky,

    I’m late to the conversation about your daughter. The situation is both awful and untenable. When one of my children was in first grade, she was regularly hit, had things thrown at her, had her snack taken. The school told me that the yard duty staff couldn’t really do anything. I finally told the principal that the next time she was attacked, if the school didn’t do anything, I would file a police report. The very next day, someone through a lunch box at her head, however, this time, the yard duty staff managed to see the incident and deal with the perpetrator.

    However, there was a dynamic set in place where she was a designated victim. This went on for another year and a half, until we moved her. Almost immediately, she had friends and the bullying stopped.

    More damaging than the physical injuries is the idea that she deserves the abuse and doesn’t have a right to protection.

  135. So first let me say that lacking data or knowledge on a subject does not mean that I lack an opinion on the subject discussed even if I don’t leave a reply. :-)

    1 – I think of this as a conversation site with a good dose of debate thrown into the mix. I value many of the opinions that are posted and several have gone into changing my mind or given me a perspective due to my own life experiences that I did not consider. Having said that there are also times when I feel some of you are really off the mark and I’m sure you feel the same about me. But as I said earlier in the week, I can only grow if I’m open to different opinions and am willing to leave my own bubble.

    2 – I don’t think every subject has credible researched data due to many of the reasons posted by others. My only complaint is when someone posts a link to what is clearly an opinion piece and tries to pass it off as if it is researched data.

    3 – I agree with Pseudonym that most decisions are made with either incomplete data or none. Like I stated at the start that does not preclude me from forming an opinion using my experiences, values and what limited knowledge I have to quite frankly “fill in the blanks” and if motivated seek out new information. I try to seek out information from several sources so I can stay informed and this blog allows me to interact with people that may not be available to me IRL.

  136. For those curious about my media habits, the last TV show I watched was The Cosby Show, back in the ’80’s. Depending on the weather, we get two or three broadcast TV channels (one is PBS) which I don’t watch and which we have on a few times a year for college football. We don’t have cable nor do I watch Netflix. Thus my lack of contribution to the TV discussions.

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