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Troubling Suspension Trend in Texas Schools

July 19, 2011

A whopping 55 percent of Texas students are suspended in the course of their six years of secondary education, a new study of school disciplinary patterns shows.

The most disturbing thing about this report isn’t the level of disruptive behavior it suggests—we know that disruptive behavior is one of the biggest obstacles to learning in some of our schools—but the fact that suspension is a very poor tool for improving that behavior. While it may get a disruptive child out of the classroom for a couple of days—an average of two, notes the Texas Tribune—and give the teacher and other students a reprieve, it appears to act less as an incentive to students to perform better than a disincentive to stay in school.

Many of the children who are acting out in our classrooms have unaddressed psychiatric and learning disorders that lead them to find school very frustrating-frustration they aren’t likely to overcome without treatment.

But many more have behavior issues that could respond very well to less individualized behavioral interventions. Indeed, this is a perfect argument for programs like Teacher-Child Interaction Training, which gives teachers much more powerful tools for reining in, and, indeed, helping children themselves to rein in undesirable behavior. At the Child Mind Institute we see kids who have been transformed by this kind of therapy-they weren’t bad kids, in fact they were bright and talented kids, but they were out of control. There are millions more like them around the country.

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