Blame schools for disruptions
I am writing in response to Jonathan David Farley’s commentary, “Urban schools will fail if disruptive students remain” (Nov. 21). As a Baltimore resident and a social worker who has worked with children and families both in Baltimore and the surrounding counties, I argue that the opposite is true. Students become disruptive because schools are failing them.
When schools target black children as young as 4 years old, suspending them at rates much higher than white children, schools are failing. When schools don’t recognize trauma and instead label it as hyperactivity and disruptive behavior and do not invest in mental health resources for children and families, schools are failing. When teacher prep programs and ongoing professional development activities fail to address racism and implicit bias, leading to incidents such as the teacher recently fired from Harlem Park Middle, schools are failing.
Expelling children so they can “rot in jail but … have the opportunity to get their GEDs”? Unless Mr. Farley is writing satire, this solution is exactly how schools and our communities are failing. Until we recognize the worth and dignity of every child, until we stop making school about testing and measuring every move that students and teachers make, we will continue to fail and children will continue to pay the cost over and over again throughout the course of their lives. It is on schools to push harder for effective professional development for staff and for mental health resources for students as well as staff.
It is on each and every one of us to look at a child and see the person inside. To be curious to know that person’s story, to honor their dignity and worth, and to do all we can so each child is protected, empowered and celebrated. If that was how we, as adults, viewed the children in our midst, imagine the world we would create.