Blame schools for dis­rup­tions

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Gretchen Tome, Bal­ti­more

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.