School-Discipline Statistics Straight out of an Opium Fog

State administrator dreaming up race metrics for school discipline… Oh, no, sorry, that’s an addict in an opium den.

by James A. Bacon

Several years ago, the Obama administration, the ACLU, and social-justice groups took a look at the disparate rates at which black and white students were being suspended from school or referred to law-enforcement authorities. The notion of the school-to-prison pipeline was born, and a movement took hold — first in select localities subjects to lawsuits and then from top-down pressure from the Virginia Department of Education to “reform” student discipline procedures in public schools.

School discipline has been heating up as an issue in Virginia since 2014 at least, and the first localities began altering their disciplinary guidelines around 2016. Since then, all school systems have been brought to heel to a greater or lesser degree. The old system system, organized around meting out punishments, taking offenders out of class, and referring the worst cases to law enforcement, was replaced with one built around the therapeutic approach of coaching, de-escalation, “restorative justice,” and returning discipline-challenged students to the classroom.

But a funny thing happened. Despite the overhaul and a dramatic decline in the number of punishments dished out, disciplinary disparities did not disappear. A new report to the State Board of Education, “Discipline Disproportionality: Measurement and Reporting,” indicates that black students still comprise 22% of all student enrollments but 54% of all students suspended.

Any normal person would say, gee, after implementing a kinder, gentler, more sensitive, more caring system for addressing misbehavior, and seeing that wide disparities remain, maybe the problem wasn’t the traditional disciplinary system. Maybe the problem is that black kids — for a whole host of complex historical, sociological and cultural reasons — are more disruptive on average. To even suggest such a thing is taboo.

There is no discernible effort within the Virginia Department of Education to ascertain if the disparities can be traced to the behavior of the students. Instead, the educational bureaucracy wants to institutionalize the assumption that the problem is systemic and institutional in nature by embedding race-based school-discipline metrics into “state accountability systems.”

The great irony here is that there is a strong correlation between how “woke” a school district is and the rate at which black students are suspended. This map from the report shows the “relative risk” of blacks being suspended compared to non-black students being suspended in the 2018-19 school year.

As I have observed previously, based on the same data published in a different report, the highest relative risk for black students is, for the most part, in major metropolitan areas, including cities and school systems dominated by black electorates and school administrations such as Richmond and Petersburg. High on the list also are school districts run by progressives such as Henrico, Fairfax, and Arlington Counties and the City of Virginia Beach. Black students are at far less relative risk in rural western counties associated (in progressives’ minds) with red-state voters, Trump lovers, gun-huggers, Confederate flags, and racism.

Ack! Does not compute!

Then there is the enduring mystery — a mystery to the Wokist narrative at least — that Hispanic students, as people of color who are discriminated against in school systems designed to sustain white supremacy, are, like whites, punished at a significantly lower rate than their share of the population. See this graphic:

Hispanics comprise 16.2% of Virginia’s public school population but only 10.3% of short-term suspensions.

And, of course, Asians, who also are people of color, account for suspensions at about one-seventh the rate predicted by their percentage of student enrollment, even though, as we all know (sarcasm alert), school systems were designed by white supremacists to maintain white privilege.

But there may be an even bigger issue: What trust do we place in the data to begin with? Does the data reflect the reality of student behavior, or are the collection and reporting of the numbers driven by political considerations?

Ponder the following statistics, which compare the incidence of various disciplinary offenses in the 2006-07 school year and the 2016-17 school year. (The data is taken from VDOE’s Discipline, Crime & Violence reports.)

If this data is to be believed, schools became dramatically more orderly and safe over that ten-year period. Students were cited for “defiance” 55% less often. Classroom disruption declined 67.5%. Assaults against students declined by 57%. Wow, what a wonderful world!

Yeah, right. Does anybody believe for a nanosecond that schools were becoming safer and more orderly at the same time that they were coming under relentless pressure to reduce the reporting of disciplinary offenses and, hence, the number of disciplinary actions? I don’t.

Let’s put it this way, if schools were getting safer, VDOE would be sure to tell us how successfully the social-justice disciplinary system is working out.

But it hasn’t.

I yearn for the day when VDOE starts exploring the hypothesis that maybe black kids in Virginia schools are suspended more frequently because they are more defiant and disorderly… and that they are more defiant and disorderly because they have been saturated with the message that Virginia schools are systemically racist, that they as individuals are victims of racism, and that traditional standards of decorum and behavior are tools for maintaining white supremacy.

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48 responses to “School-Discipline Statistics Straight out of an Opium Fog”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Does the experience in the Air Force show any relation to School Discipline issues? Are black Air Force members – ”
    more defiant and disorderly. And that they are more defiant and disorderly because they have been saturated with the message that The Air Force is systemically racist, that they as individuals are victims of racism, and that traditional standards of decorum and behavior are tools for maintaining white supremacy.”

    ” Black members of the U.S. Air Force are treated differently than their white counterparts in a wide range of areas, including promotions and military justice, a new internal investigation reveals.

    The 150-page report by the Air Force inspector general confirmed racial disparities exist for Black members in law enforcement apprehensions, criminal investigations, military justice, administrative separations, placement into occupational career fields, certain promotion rates, professional military educational development and leadership opportunities.

    For example, Black Air Force service members were 72% more likely to receive Article 15 nonjudicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice than white service members. Black, Hispanic and male service members were also more likely than white and female members to be subjects of an investigation and tried in general and special courts-martial, the report found.

    1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
      Kathleen Smith

      Maybe VDOE should look at how the data were reported in the Air Force study. The problem exists in schools, but the data are so badly reported and interpreted that one can’t shouldn’t: 1. Be penalized for statistics; or, 2. Try to make improvement plans based on that data.

      When I was at the department, the state superintendent had a saying- if the data smell fishy, the data are fishy. I always looked at the anomalies, in this case, like Petersburg, that has a high Black percentage of students as compared to Chesterfield that has a pretty normal distribution.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Why are Asian-American airmen ignored in these analyses?

  2. I worked for several months before COVID as a substitute teacher for a student who was on the verge of being expelled from the school system. An elementary school student, large for his age, he had assaulted various people at the school, including an assistant principal.

    At the time I assumed that the county was hiring a dedicated person to follow this one student from class to class and redirect their focus because if they had expelled him they would have still be on the hook financially to pay for his schooling at some private academy for violent special needs students.

    But it is possible the system did not want to expel him because it would have reduced the “equity” in their racial composition statistics.

    One thing I have not seen much reporting on anywhere is the way special education programs work in modern government schools systems. I’ve worked as a long term substitute in two other roles for anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months with these kids. There is a wide variety of special education kids mainstreamed into your neighborhood school, or even magnet schools.

    One program is called MIPA and there are MIPA classes at many schools. MIPA kids are often severely autistic, or have rare chromosomal disorders like Angelman syndrome. There is no chance, without advances in medical treatments, that these kids can actually become general education students. At school they are completely unable to participate in a class with general education students. They are taught in separate classrooms, and only see other children at recess or at lunch, where they also are often at their own separate table and are unable to interact with general education students, even when the latter make an effort to befriend them. They usually have smaller class sizes and may more teacher’s assistants. In one class I worked in there were 3 adults for 5 students. In another there were 3 adults for 7 students.

    Decades ago when I was in elementary school as a student I do not remember my small town elementary schools having special education students mainstreamed into them.

    Special education students are very costly to the education of the other students. Besides having smaller class sizes for their own classes (when they are mainstreamed into the school, but not into actual general education classes), and having their own additional dedicated teacher’s assistants, they disrupt the actual education other children receive. At one middle school my classroom was adjacent to a special education class whose students laugh, scream, and sing loudly and can be heard through the walls. Of course, general education (“normal”) kids can be noisy too, but they don’t typically make noise non-stop for 90 minutes. At another school an “autistic” (somewhat of a catch all term) student who tends to become fixated and excited by certain visual stimuli would grab students’ COVID masks and girl’s hair ribbons and scrunchies, and would become violent with girls if they did not want to play with him. In that same class the half dozen special education students “mainstreamed” into the class including students who were unable to remain at their desks, but would jump up, run around, shout out answers when not called on, and run over and loom over other children if they gave an incorrect answer. It’s not that other children don’t do these things, many children do these things on occasion, and I’ve also had badly behaved students at schools in less well off neighborhoods where I think many students were from single parent families. But special education students sometimes do them every hour, and the general education students are usually confused and angry, and sometimes begin to imitate them.

    I’ve gone into such a diatribe about special ed students because one of the things I would like to find statistics on is the ethnic composition of the special education population in particular school systems. I don’t know that globally or nationally it is significantly different from the general education population. But in the several schools I have worked in two Virginia jurisdictions, it does seem that one thing “hosting” a special education class or integrating special education students into general education classes does is that it allows the school to “improve” the ethnic diversity of its student body. There are in every school white and Asian special education students. But in every school I have been in, the special education classes have a higher percentage of immigrant, hispanic, and African American students (like my violent charge on the edge of expulsion) than the school as a whole. Even in one magnet school I taught in that was majority non-white, with lots of middle eastern and north African students, the special education classes seemed to have most of the specifically American born African American students in that school. So it certainly looks like, based on my multi-year observation of over a dozen schools, that the special education programs (1) are very costly in a purely budgetary sense, (2) have a negative impact on education for general education, “normal” to gifted students, but (3) allow schools to appear to be more “diverse” and integrated than they are, because significant percentages of their “students of color” are actually special education students who are at the school, but segregated into their own special classes, at least for math and English, and frequently for every class except recess and lunch.

    This ties directly back to your subject. If some significant percentage of your “students of color” in any given school – 10%, 20%, 30% – are students with cognitive and behavioral problems who are being mainstreamed into the school, then it is unsurprising that they are going to be suspended more often than the other students in the school.

  3. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Your last paragraph is almost there. Add to that teachers have to engage students of any race. Many problems are because the teacher doesn’t motivate students – students aren’t always self motivated.

    The statistics will always be fishy because the reports sent to VDOE are based on perception of the reporter vs VDOE’s actual definition. For example, student defiance. If one school defines defiance as a student saying “so what” and another school defines defiance only when it escalates to “FU”, there in lies the old garbage in garbage out data dilemma.

    The percentages provided in communities that are mostly Black are useless. In Richmond, for example, if you roll up the numbers from Armstrong with 1300 Black students and Community, into one, like the VDOE data rolls up all school data to the division, it looks funny. The state average is not applicable. Only the average for Community by itself and Armstrong by itself are applicable. If Armstrong’s Black population is 99%, you can assume that state averages apply.

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    A useful discussion, including Larry’s info on the recent Air Force data. Don’t have time for a long discussion now but let me throw this out. At the top of the list of “offenses” above are defiance and disruption, probably often related. In describing the USAF data Larry uses those word (not sure if the report does.) Certainly “defiance” is a theme that ties most if not all of these bad outcome police interactions, with people resisting arrest or attempting to flee or simply refusing to do what the cop says. This is not an attempt to forgive unnecessary force, but even George Floyd’s case went bad because he wouldn’t get into the cruiser. When I speak of “cultural” factors, thinking like an anthropologist, that pattern of refusal to comply (whether or not justified by fear) with an authority figure stands out in my mind.

    And these days, it is just as likely to be a black police officer, teacher or school administrator that the person is defying. At the recent shooting outside Minneapolis, the other officer trying to restrain the youth was black.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I took Jim B’s sentence at the end of his blog post ” I yearn for the day when VDOE starts exploring the hypothesis that maybe black kids in Virginia schools are suspended more frequently because they are more defiant and disorderly… and that they are more defiant and disorderly because they have been saturated with the message that Virginia schools are systemically racist, that they as individuals are victims of racism, and that traditional standards of decorum and behavior are tools for maintaining white supremacy”

      and replaced “black kids” with “Black members of the Air Force” –

      Jim – and others seem convinced that it is black kids who are the problem rather than the way the discipline system works with regard to blacks kids and then other things thrown in that conflate.

      One would think by the time “black kids” got to the Air Force that we’d have a pretty good independent verification of behavior of blacks versus institutional structural issues with regard to race.

      Now, I do not underestimate the current environment where “woke” is thrown around left and right and likely will be used by some of the same suspects to describe the Air Force and it’s report.

      But for those who might take it at face value – the Air Force did , it has some interesting correlations with the public school discipline issues and the higher incidence of black students.

      Is it that black kids are truly bigger behavior problems and is that also the problem in the Air Force ?

      Or are some of the problems identified in the Air Force Report, also problems in our schools?

      How much do some want to accept that the later might also be true in or schools?

      When the vast majority of the critics of school discipline issues with black kids are themselves white, is that something to think about also?

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        “One would think by the time “black kids” got to the Air Force that we’d have a pretty good independent verification of behavior of blacks versus institutional structural issues with regard to race.”


        Put aside race and ask whether “kids” who get into the armed forces are always fully vetted. God bless our armed forces but there are plenty of criminal acts, up to and including murder, perpetrated by members of the armed forces.

        Deep seated contempt for authority would be hard to detect in a person who knows not to display such disrespect during the recruiting process.

  5. Publius Avatar

    The woke correlation will also correspond with density and single parent and all the attendant social ills associated therewith. I suspect the single parent ratios, even among “people of color” will be lower in awful rural Hicksville Trumpland? Individual behavior matters, and no matter how much the books are cooked, you will have the disparities related to boys growing up without the moderating influence of a father and learning how to deal with authority. I am going to be mean here…the white officer black victim thing, which is statistically a mountain out of a molehill, would be making a mountain out of a grain of sand without resisting arrest. And this has been made worse by constant repetition of lies by our wonderful media, like COVID fear porn…

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      It is true that black fathers are less likely to marry the mother of their children. However, a CDC study supports the concept that black fathers are just as present, if not more present, than fathers from other racial backgrounds. I would refer you to the Tables of this publication for details:

      1. This is interesting data. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. If had made a guess before seeing this data, I would have predicted that white, Hispanic and black fathers who lived with their children were roughly equally present in the lives of their children, and similarly that white, Hispanic and black fathers who did not live with their children were equally present to a lesser degree. It is interesting to see that among both categories — living with children, not living with children — black fathers are marginally more likely to be present with their children in daily activities. I did not expect that, so I would say the study serves a useful purpose by correcting that misperception.

        However, I think you miss a critical point. There is a vast gulf in “presentness” between fathers who live with their kids and those who don’t. And the unfortunate fact is, black fathers are far less likely to live with their children than Hispanic or white fathers (to say nothing of Asian fathers, who don’t even seem to figure into this study). The difference between fathers “living with” and not living with their children being engaged every day in the upbringing of their children is huge.

        As a divorced father of two girls, I think fathers who don’t live with their children every day still can be pretty good dads (though not as good as dads who live with them every day). The crucial question, which is not answered in this study, is what about the dads who have no involvement at all — the dads who have effectively abandoned their children? Those cases have the most devastating consequences, and the study doesn’t touch upon them at all. We still have a lot to learn.

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          “(to say nothing of Asian fathers, who don’t even seem to figure into this study)”

          Asians never figure into progressive studies because, as a group, they break the lie of a society based on white supremacy.

  6. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
    Anonymous Bosch

    The asian conundrum is easily explained using common kommie acronyms. They are classified in the marxist dictionary as BIPOC-WA. Their “white adjacentness” affords them as sort of best of both worlds existence. All the victim status while enjoying a share of the privilege due to them by playing along with the rules of the white oppressors institutional system of racism and hate.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Good. 17.5% of Fairfax County residents are of Asian ancestry. Let the progressives poison the Asian community with their categorization. Next will be the Hispanic community, mark my words.

  7. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    So just to be clear, the data indicate that 1) the number of offenses is down significantly across the board over that decade (assuming the base student population didn’t drop a similar amount) but 2) of those offenses, there is still a racial imbalance similar to years ago. That drop overall is pretty dramatic, but could simply reflect that fewer such cases are being reported in the changed disciplinary climate. Then again, maybe the change is working? It simply can’t overcome the other sociological factors (which in my mind are poverty and single parent households and perhaps some culture factors, but not skin color.)

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      “It simply can’t overcome the other sociological factors (which in my mind are poverty and single parent households and perhaps some culture factors, but not skin color.)”

      What makes you think skin color can not be a factor at all? I will buy that many factors may be at work here but to say racism (conscious or not) just simply can not be one of them seems naive.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        If it involves “cultural factors”, it clearly involves skin color given that statues of Robert E. Lee and other momuments to the glory of slavery and the South are considered “cultural” by those that deny skin color is contributor to cultural. Hell, they even call it “cancel culture” should you try to remove it.

        Is “excited delirium” racial, cultural, historical, biological, political, or the figment of police training?

        1. tmtfairfax Avatar

          What about the pomp and circumstance given to the open religious bigot Kamala Harris? And do you really think they won’t start naming streets and schools after her?

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Take it up when they do. Watch San Fran. They’re most likely.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          No hold on just a minute. Robert E. Lee’s statue skin color is bronze and therefore a protected member of BIPOC.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Patinaed. Both he and the statue, I would imagine.

        3. DJRippert Avatar

          How is the statue of my favorite tennis player of all time, Arthur Ashe, doing?

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            How many slaves did he own?

      2. DJRippert Avatar

        Because Hispanics and Asians are under-represented in suspensions? Or, are you saying that’s it is prejudice against Blacks rather than “People of Color”?

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          There is and always has been a more pointed racism against blacks in the US in comparison to other races.

    2. If the number of reported incidents is way down, it could mean one of three things:

      (1) The number of actual incidents is down,
      (2) A change in reporting criteria or willingness to report incidents, or
      (3) A combination of the two.

      I have heard no one suggest that schools are getting safer and more orderly. No one. But we do know that successive administrations have wanted to “show progress.” That suggests to me that the bureaucratic inventive is to report fewer incidents. This is confirmed anecdotal evidence that is, admittedly, limited in scope.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        So if they are liars why are we basing a discussion on their data?

        1. First we have to establish that they are liars — or severely self-deceived. Then we can decide whatever we’d like based on that understanding.

        2. DJRippert Avatar

          They are liars in the sense that they moved the goalposts, as they say. Change the rules but continue to report the data in the same way.

          Kind of like liberals insisting that white supremacy is responsible for inequitable outcomes for “people of color” but then ignoring Asian-Americans.

          Truth is the first casualty of liberalism.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    The discipline numbers went down in the correct fashion because they were not reported. I was a witness to this. In the past at Briar Woods HS, the school security specialist and the School Resource Officer were key members of investigating serious discipline issues such as fighting, drugs, booze, sex assaults, runaways, etc. When the new rules pipeline to prison rules come along, school leaders froze out the school sec. specialist and the SRO. They never knew most of the time what was really going on. Meanwhile administrators would huddle in closed doors to dream up new ways to try and solve a discipline issue and avoid the consequences by not reporting. The result was a watered down and cloudy behavior management system. BWHS looked so much better on paper but in reality the same old problems were there. The SSS and SRO would only get involved if the discipline problem involved the extreme such as assault and victims come to them instead of the administration. They spend most of their time in passive hallway monitoring by watching cameras. You can’t administer punishment unless it is on video now.

    There is another front to this issue as well. Minor issues such as lateness to class, leaving campus, leaving a disaster behind at the lunch table, leaving class whenever a kid feels like it, defacing school property, clogging of the john on purpose and so on. None of this gets any real attention or consequences.

    I was always in charge of the 4 lunch shifts at school as a monitor. That was my duty. I actually liked it. I got a chance to get to know a lot of kids across all grades. I had a chance to line up the hard heads in my class by interacting with them at lunch time. I never had problems with clean up or dismissal. But then the new rules come along. I could not detain students to clean up their mess and the cafeteria. I could not assign students seats for lunch time due to poor clean up habits or behavior. I could not take action for line cutting or stealing food without paying for it. Tamping down on these issues helps create a good school climate and I believe it can lead to deterrence against more serious issues.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I recommend every reader pay close attention to Jay Whitehead when he talks about such matters. He was in the foxhole.

  9. A higher percentage of special education students are “students of color,” according to my observation of over a dozen Virginia schools in two NoVa jurisdictions over several years. It actually looks to me like schools have MIPA and other special education classes in part so they can have more hispanic and African American students “in” their school, even though they actually only interact with the rest of the student body at lunch and recess. If they are in any other common classes it might be music or art, but rarely English or Math.

    (This can also be done in other ways. Years ago a close friend who had attended Alexandria’s prestigious TC Williams high school told me that the school was divided into people who were in AP classes and people who were not. Almost everyone in AP classes was white or Asian, almost everyone in the non-AP classes was black or hispanic, and few people were in only a few AP classes – you were mainly in all AP classes or no AP classes.)

    Special education students, whether they have their own class or are mainstreamed into a “normal” class usually have dedicated additional teacher’s assistants. They frequently are up out of their seats, making noise, threatening or grabbing at other students – things a general education student might do as well, but rarely as continuously.

    In my observation over several years at many schools, the special ed cohort at any school is never less black, hispanic, or immigrant than the school as a whole. The presence of special ed students always “improves” the diversity statistics of the school, even though these students are segregated within the school from the other students.

    At one magnet school that was majority non-white – the student body was heavily Asian American, middle Eastern, and north African – the special education classes were around 30% African American, constituting over half of the American born African Americans in the school (even though there were other black students from Africa or the Caribbean in the gen ed student body). One was a violent student on the verge of being expelled because he had assaulted a number of people including a principal. At the time I thought he had his own dedicated teacher assistant because if the county had expelled him they would have been on the hook financially for educating him at a private academy for children with behavior problems.

    But I now wonder if keeping him, and mainstreaming special education kids generally, is being used as a tool to “improve” and fabricate diversity statistics.

    Whether that is the purpose or not, if a school is mainstreaming special education students into a mainly general education school, and the special education students have a higher percentage of black and hispanic students, then it is unsurprising that a higher percentage of black and hispanic students are being suspended.

    It would be good to see the racial breakdown of special education students in Virginia and how it compares to the general education population. It would also be good to see how many of the students being suspended – particularly the black and hispanic students being suspended – were special education students being mainstreamed into a school they are not really fully a part of.

    1. Bruce, thank you for a valuable contribution to the discussion. I have heard only bits and pieces of what you have told us. You draw a much sharper picture, and provide a lot more color. Perhaps most importantly, you suggest a relationship between the higher-than-normal percentage of African-American students being disciplined and what you conjecture to be a higher-than-normal percentage African-American composition of learning-disabled students. You also point out the bizarre incentives that schools have to accommodate disruptive, learning-disabled students, even if it’s to the detriment of other students.

      Of course, everything you said above is taboo and off the table for discussion.

      1. For a couple of years I have worried about the deleterious impact of mainstreaming special education students into a general education school: (1) they require many additional teacher assistants and other staff for support, which of course they might require even if they were taught in separate schools, (2) they tend to be noisy and out of their seats (including some highly intelligent special education students, who are not precisely learning-disabled but have autism or other behavioral problems), which other students find confusing, distracting, disruptive, and sadly sometimes begin to imitate, (3) they can be heard in adjacent classrooms when they begin to scream, cry, shout or sing, and (4) many have fixations and obsessive compulsive disorders, where they e.g., will grab other students’ COVID masks or scrunchies or hair ribbons, insist on using a specific bathroom stall – and invade it even when it is occupied or attempt to throw an occupant out of it., etc. etc. Their behavior in general has to be monitored closely since it tends to create conflicts and lead to violent interactions, and it can escalate into disasters in science labs, when using musical instruments, and when using P.E. equipment. The fact that the “improved” and fabricated racial diversity statistics achieved by transporting in special education students from a. wider geographical area so as to have enough for a special ed class then contributes (I just don’t know how much or how significant it is) to statistics “showing” that students of some races are suspended more than students of other races, so (5) another cost of mainstreaming special ed students may be that it fuels anger about perceived racial disparities, when violent, autistic, learning-disabled, and other cognitively or behaviorally handicapped children are disciplined or suspended.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      TC Williams – prestigious? Surely you jest. Don’t get me wrong … I went to the next high school south of TC Williams and there was nothing particularly “prestigious” about my high school either.

      TC Williams is rated the 159th best high school in the metropolitan DC area. Prestigious?

      1. My friend went in the mid-80s and according to her (I think) it was. At the time it had an English teacher, Patrick Welsh, who had won some kind of national teacher of the year award (if I am remembering accurately). My friend was accepted into literally every single Ivy League college (except for some reason, Princeton), as well as Georgetown and Stanford. So I just believed her.
        I’ve never taught in Alexandria, so my opinion of TC WIlliams is just based on hearsay from the 1980s. (My experience of mainstreaming os special ed students in two other NoVa jurisdictions is very hands on and direct.)

  10. I can’t wait to see the updated stats two-to-three years into weed legalization. School discipline will fall apart, truancy will increase, and grades will plummet if other states which have legalized the drug is an indicator.

    1. Bruce Majors Avatar
      Bruce Majors

      This year’s truancy and other statistics will have to be thrown out. Some students simply disappeared from online learning, and others checked in briefly and then disappeared, which was counted as being present for the day. Late in the year teachers were still finding students who had mainly been online who did not understand how to sign into Microsoft Teams or how to submit homework and classwork in the various applications and software products (SeeSaw, Canvas, etc.) corporations sell to school systems for this purpose.

      As for legalizing pot, what effect do you think it will have on the teachers? What percentage will relax every evening with pot, and how will that diminish their performance the next day?

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        “As for legalizing pot, what effect do you think it will have on the teachers? What percentage will relax every evening with pot, and how will that diminish their performance the next day?”


        I have to assume you’ve never gotten high. The next time you are in a “legal marijuana” state do a little experiment. Get hammered on vodka one night and record how you feel the next day. Wait a day or two. Then get high as a bat one night and record how you feel the next day. Ask yourself which one was more detrimental to your performance the next day. But don’t try to write down your thoughts until you are done vomiting into the toilet after the vodka.

        Nobody should abuse any substances (including cheeseburgers) … but to claim that smoking pot will harm next day performance without admitting to the ravages of a world class hangover is a false analysis.

        1. Actually I have, but not often. Two, three, four drinks just means I will be slow the next morning, maybe or maybe not with a hangover. Pot, which I have only experienced once every 5 or 6 years, usually when I am at some libertarian event and a libertarian woman offers me some. (And I’m on the other team, so I don’t know how it is always a gal who gets me to do this!) seems to be getting stronger and stronger. The last time I had any, some years ago (2013? 2014?), I was at a purely social event where everyone was connected to the Libertarian Party. A tray of brownies came by and not knowing for sure if it was the pot brownie sheet or the non-pot brownie sheet, I ate 3 or 4, because I was hungry. (I did not know you were not supposed to do that.). The result was a painful catatonic state on my ride home (someone else was driving) where every sound was painful and I wanted to throttle anyone who asked me a question. So I am not sure pot is less harmful.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Do you really think that high school students can’t get weed today? Four of my five sons have already graduated from high school. I asked each of them what was easier to get … marijuana or booze. My only stipulation was that you couldn’t just steal your parents’ booze. The 4-0 answer was marijuana. Booze is regulated. Marijuana is not. That’s why marijuana is easier for high schools students to procure.

      1. I know from talking at conferences with students from states which have legalized weed that problems exploded after such…..

  11. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    I was talking to an old colleague this morning who is still in the classroom. He reports zero discipline incidents so far this year. Loudoun County does not start 4 day a week in person instruction for high school until NEXT week. Therefore discipline data for the past 2 school years, recycle it. Totally meaningless.

  12. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    I dunno. Preparing to be the unarmed victim in a police shooting, maybe?

  13. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    I have some major concerns about comparing 2007 data to 2017 data. I was an administrator in a school during the early 2000’s, and towards the end of my tenure at that level, there was a major push to “more accurately” report discipline data. If I remember correctly, the state was showing a high percentage of really egregious student behaviors. We were brought into trainings by the central office, and were explained that there was a difference in the level of weight that offenses had, such as Assault, Fighting With No Injury, Altercation/confrontation, and etc. I think way back then, administrators used these terms interchangeably from one building to the next.

    To the point of what others have commented, if the discipline data gets too out of whack, and pressure is applied about it, the natural inclination is for individuals to change their reporting habits. I don’t think this happens so much intentionally, but it still happens.

    Below are the current guidelines, and the different discipline codes. ASs you can see, there is still a lot of room for subjectivity, as well as opportunities to “fudge” the code a little to make things seem less intense.

    Because of all of this, I don’t think the overall data is all that reliable when making comparisons from year to year, or even division to division or school to school. However, in looking at how consistent the discipline disparities are for black students, it’s hard to imagine that there’s not a real problem there.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Matt – do you have a view as to why there are these disparities? I know. Tough question but you are a professional in education and your views are (IMHO) typically measured and reasoned.

      1. Matt Hurt Avatar
        Matt Hurt

        That is a tough question, but I would imagine that relationships, or rather the lack of strong, positive relationships has something to do with it. I suspect that the parents of many of the kids who are getting into trouble in school had problems when they were in school, so they expect the same for their kids. Because of their own bad experiences, they tend to not work with school folks through the discipline of their kids, as they look at the relationship as more adversarial. If the school folks can effectively engage with the families, and convince the families that they are truly working for the benefit of the kid, things will likely get better. Whenever there are adversarial relationships with parents and kids, nothing good can come of it.

    2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      Mr. Hurt makes a good point about the standards for reporting discipline data. The last revision before the current standard dates back to when Doug Wilder was our governor.

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