Hey, there! Log in / Register

My First Boot Camp: Inside the Boston school that suspends kindergarteners

Well, or did until word got out. WBUR takes us inside UP Academy Holland in Dorchester - a tough-love school still owned by the city but no longer controlled by BPS, where wiggling in your seat brings discipline and they even have a room for kiddie solitary confinement for the really tough eggs.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

To clarify, that article is about UP Academy Holland, which is in Dorchester and not UP Academy Dorchester.

up
Voting closed 0

Corrected.

up
Voting closed 0

It’s all part of the “broken windows” theory of discipline at UP Academy Holland, a Dorchester public school that was declared “failing” in 2013. It’s now run by a nonprofit network under state supervision.

The [social conduct, disciplinary] theory, borrowed from policing [in high crime areas] , holds that cracking down on minor offenses will create a culture with fewer major ones. UP Academy Holland embraces that philosophy in the school turnaround plan created by state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester and UP Education Network CEO Scott Given.

So UP instructs teachers to “sweat the small stuff” and meet every single infraction of the rules with an immediate consequence.

up
Voting closed 0

that are NOT in the original item they are quoting from? Especially when such words demonstrate a bias (like the IDIOTIC "in high crime areas") against what's being stated by the original person.

up
Voting closed 0

Broken widows isn't implemented in low crime areas, it's implemented in high crime areas.

up
Voting closed 0

That "high crime areas" statement wasn't in the original material you quoted. And by adding it as a discalimer to the word policing, you are now equating a school's practices to crime rates. That's adding irrelevant bias to the story.

And perhaps low crime areas are low crime because the community has always implemented a "broken windows" approach to offenses. The difference being they never chose to apply a PC "buzzword" to the practice.

up
Voting closed 0

It's not a crime area.

up
Voting closed 0

Reminds me of Catholic school in the 1950s. Children were better behaved back then.

up
Voting closed 0

The kids who weren't better behaved got expelled or committed to institutions.

up
Voting closed 0

Except they don't have nuns hitting kids with those wood pointer sticks like the parochial schools did. Ask 20 people who went to those schools - 19 will say 'thank God I didn't have to go to public school.'

up
Voting closed 0

..the one person who wouldn't say that. I would say the exact opposite. It was a miserable 8 years (I refused to go for another 4 years). I seriously doubt that many of the kids in my class have positive memories of it.

up
Voting closed 0

No comment on the subject of this school (across the street from my house) but Lord those nuns were no joke back in the day!!!!! Sister Mary Catherine used to tear the other kids up with the stick!!! I made sure to behave so I wouldn't get it lol. I will be one of the 19 to say that.

up
Voting closed 0

Yeah, we really should go back to the Catholic Church's way of taking care of children.

up
Voting closed 0

IMAGE(http://57.media.tumblr.com/b9655cb6c6f7da648f1fccb73e807c5a/tumblr_o3he823ujj1u9127so1_250.gif)

up
Voting closed 0

I believe there was a film made about how well the Catholic Church treated kids. I think it won some award.

up
Voting closed 0

I can attest to a very appreciated parochial education. While not for everyone, it's a good solid education that, in my opinion, is better than public.

So there's that.

I know the sentiment behind that post, but I do find it troubling that all catholic administrators, lay people, priests and nuns are guilty in your eyes.

Many, many were not and not even aware of what was going on. I know it's hard for you to understand but it doesn't change the fact.

I would prefer we don't paint with such broad brushes.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, nothing promotes learning quite like abject fear.

up
Voting closed 0

It raises more questions for me. I'm glad the school has stopped automatically suspending pre-K and K students (4 and 5 year olds), but what has it implemented to help? Smaller class sizes? Have they hired a school psychologist or anyone with more SPED training? more physical activity and playtime ?

up
Voting closed 0

School psychologists are not the competent magic kid fixers most people imagine them to be. Alarmingly almost every one I've ever known has been a few cents short of a dollar themselves.

up
Voting closed 0

Here's the problem: their approach is distinctly opposite what scientific and pedagogic research tells us about how children learn. Entirely age inappropriate in the extreme, as well as ignorant of decades of research on the subject.

Which is probably why the place sucks. I feel really very sorry for these kids. They are being prepared for a world of domination and intimidation, and programmed to be passive acceptors of authoritarian regimes.

up
Voting closed 0

I feel really very sorry for these kids. They are being prepared for a world of domination and intimidation, and programmed to be passive acceptors of authoritarian regimes.

up
Voting closed 0

And yet it works. Test scores are up.

up
Voting closed 0

That isn't a valid metric for young kids.

It isn't even a valid metric for anything other than raises for administrators, actually.

Yeah, high test scores AND a high adolescent suicide rate! Bring it ON! Oh, but I'm sure they will drown the bunnies before they off themselves so no one will know.

up
Voting closed 0

They got rid of their special ed population. Viola, scores up.

up
Voting closed 0

The ned for sped...

up
Voting closed 0

UP Academy Holland, a Dorchester public school that was declared “failing” in 2013.

So I assume crocodile tears were shed hereabouts for the children who were stuck in a failing school run by the city administration.

up
Voting closed 0

The teacher that sent WGBH the records shouldn't be working in that school as s/he is clearly not on the same wave-length as the school administration. If you think they are too strict, then you shouldn't be working there.

The lawyer who is looking to sue everyone is being a typical lawyer: That is he's looking out for himself and his practice and not really the kids. You're going to sue because a kid was sent home 15 minutes early?

The kid who stabbed his classmate and threatened to kill him: He cannot be left in the class. He just can't. Aside from the danger to other kids, no one is going to learn a damn thing while he's there. I realize that he's got all the cards stacked against him, but if that lawyer wants another client it will be the kid who gets stabbed because the school DIDN'T suspend this kid.

up
Voting closed 0

According to the article, it was a plastic knife. It sounds like they used the word "stabbed" to bolster their case.

up
Voting closed 0

If it were a pen or a pencil that could have been serious.

up
Voting closed 0

Charters are isolated from oversight institutions such as the local school committee, city council, select board and mayor. Private boards have an incentive to maintain secrecy and state oversight is bare bones. These school are largely funded with local property tax: Taxation without representation.

up
Voting closed 0

And if you don't like the way your country is going, definitely don't bother to vote, just leave and never look back. Yuuup.

There is always a place for the conscientious objector and the "well if you don't like it, leave" hissy-fit is beneath everyone involved. Don't stoop to that. It convinces no-one and in fact undermines your original position. Just stop.

up
Voting closed 0

Kids who are disruptive, violent and are not in school to learn do not belong at school, they take away from everyone's learning experience. This kind of behavior should not be tolerated. I am glad that they are very strict, so that the children who come to school to learn can get a good education. The reason many charter schools are so successful is that they have strict codes of conduct so that classrooms are not disrupted by children with behavioral problems. This integrated classroom idea is BS. Kids with these kind of severe problems belong in a special school, period! They are not well served in general education. Inclusion classrooms are another liberal education fad that has failed.

up
Voting closed 0

Children whom are "violent" has their reason, it no excuse, but usually a call for help. They should be in smaller class room, with a teacher aid, and has more attention to understanding them.

up
Voting closed 0

If that lawyer is going to "sue", its likely under a civil rights law. Look up what that would mean. It's very unlikely to lead to a monetary payout, for the lawyer or the families involved.

And 15 minutes can add up quickly. That's an 1.5 hours every week, 6 hours a month. Because it's never really once. That has an impact on kids learning, not to mention their self esteem.

I do agree that a student who stabs another student, even with a plastic knife, should be removed from the classroom.

up
Voting closed 0

I don't know anything about running a school or having a kid, so I'll just preface my comment with that caveat. However: this all sounds weird and bad and school-to-prison-pipeline-ish.

up
Voting closed 0

After listening to this story on WBUR this morning, I could not quite tell whether the school is serving kids who have severe mental illness (e.g. child hood schizophrenia) or whether these are just kids with developmental disabilities. If it is the former, then the school's behavior may have some justification, as children who pose a threat to themselves and others need to be separated from the classroom. However, if it is the later, it strikes me that this is a heavy handed way of dealing with kids that probably need a special learning environment and/or some significant phsychological counseling to help them work through behavioral problems.

up
Voting closed 0

as a normal course of operation then choose a different occupation. To me this highlights a significant difference between public and charter schools. A public school can't tell a 6 year old to go away. I don't want my tax dollars going to charter schools designating 6 year olds as disposable commodities.

up
Voting closed 0

Charter schools ARE public schools. Even ones that aren't run directly by a school district. Those are considered their own public school district.

Charter schools face the same scrutiny from DESE as public schools. They get what's called "coordinated program reviews" on the same schedule as public districts - this is a review of how well they're following state and federal special education law (which they are clearly out of compliance with, if the discipline practices that are described in this article are true), as well as the ADA, Section 504, and non-disability civil rights laws.

Unfortunately these reviews only happen every 6 years, and that's really not much scrutiny - for districts or charters. It takes parent complaints (through Program Quality Assurance Services at DESE) to bring scrutiny in the interim.

I think the big difference with charters is the lack of public scrutiny. In my district, administration lives in fear of parents bringing their "scandal" to public school committee meetings. I'm sure it's the same in other districts, too.

And if you think 6 year olds (and 3, 4, and 5 year olds) don't get suspended in public schools, I'm sorry to say that you're mistaken.

up
Voting closed 0

This conduct policy was modeled after a crime fighting theory. That's fucked up.

These kids need to be loved and encouraged not shamed and house trained like a puppy. Bring them to heel.

up
Voting closed 0

There is a place for charters but they have to be on even ground with true public schools. If you take tax money then you have to take students with special education and discipline needs and not be able to shoot certain kids out of a cannon when convienent. We are creating and legitimizing an quasi public education system for the have's and have nots.

up
Voting closed 0

Yet when Charter schools request to be included at BPS welcome centers as an option there is monumental push back from BPS and the Teacher's Union. Most parents only find out from word of mouth. If SPED and ESL parents were presented all the options during the BPS school showcase, they probably would apply and the enrollment numbers would be higher. The whole system, Charters and BPS, is gamed towards middle class, educated parents that can take time off work to figure out the myriad choices for schools. Isn't it weird that the BPS Henderson Inclusion School's demographics do not match the neighborhood? This is a direct result of policies that match white, middle class parents. The entry point in the school is half-day (none of the other area schools do that) leaving parents who have to work leaving it off as an option. No worse than what the charters are doing.

up
Voting closed 0

some parents aren't engaged. It's the teachers union fault that the BPS evolved into a dysfunctional administrative blob. It's the teachers union fault is a wonderful straw man.

up
Voting closed 0

Well they are or at least appear to be organizing the push against the Boston Compact. I have quite a few friends in the union and they are being directed to attack charters for using the same tactics that BPS uses in its schools to promote a certain school population.

If you've ever gone through BPS school selection it has nothing to do with parents who are not engaged. The process is rigged so that only on certain days during work hours you can visit a school and even then the published times for the tours are often wrong and there will be no one there to give a tour. Then you have to go to the Welcome Center and wait for an hour or more to rank your top five choices and hope that you get into at least one of them in the lottery, otherwise you are "administratively assigned". The system is so rigged against blue-collar, hourly workers, it is laughable and so transparent that BPS could give a flying f*&k about reaching out to under-served families.

up
Voting closed 0

The bureaucracy you describe is beyond ridiculous. That is the reason we have excessive amounts of administrators employed in this broken system. Beyond stupid.

up
Voting closed 0

My son goes to a private school. Every single student there has a disability that impacts their ability to have "good" behavior. They have somewhat rigid behavioral codes, that are not completely un-similar to what's described here.

Students are expected to line up and walk quietly through the hall. They are expected to sit up in their chair with their heads forward and their hands in lap. And having these rules really does help the kids stay calm (which is a HUGE deal for these kids, as no calm means no learning).

But they don't nitpick "bad" behavior. They don't punish the kids if they're not following the rules. Instead they simply remind them of the rules. And compliment them when they're doing well. And it works like a charm, this natural positive reinforcement - that and the good "peer pressure" of their fellow students following the rules.

If what's going on is true, it's sad. It's sad and it's illegal, and it's proven not to work.

State and federal special education law prohibits the copious suspension of special education students. A separate, recent state law all but forbids the suspension of any student - expect in extreme circumstances (weapons, violence, drugs, etc).

I hope that DESE takes a strong look at these practices, but I don't have faith that they will.

up
Voting closed 0

That's illegal too. Seclusion all the time, and restraint in all but extreme circumstances. Please DESE look into this.

up
Voting closed 0

They have a closet with a window and they put kids in there who are out of control for a "time out". That is not "seclusion all the time." Yes having that room could be abused, but I heard nothing in the article to suggest that it was being used excessively.

up
Voting closed 0

Even a short time in seclusion is illegal under state law. Why? Because of the extreme impact it has on children's emotional well being. And because it is notoriously over-used.

up
Voting closed 0

This is child abuse. People have their kids taken away for this sort of shit - so why should schools be able to abuse, bully, harass, and humiliate kids in the name of "discipline".

up
Voting closed 0

My child attends Up Academy Boston, and I thought they were the only chrter school that treated students like they were in the military. Just because it's not concidered a "public school" I dont think they should be treating students the way they do. My child and I have never been so miserable dealing with all that goes on in such a place where children are suppose to get an education but instead they are miserable, unable to focus and the least learn anything. Ever heard of a school that makes children were black tape because they forgot their belt, now that is totally unacceptable...

up
Voting closed 0

Bet that kid never forgot his belt again

up
Voting closed 0

Who the hell cares if a kid even wears a belt? Abusive and stupid.

up
Voting closed 0

But completely appropriate for a decent chunk of the parents.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm sorry so many people are saddened by this article but please step back and realize this was written with one end in mind. I have been in this school many times because of my job and it is such a joyful and happy place. The students are often interacting with each other and active and, quite frankly, being kids. I have witnessed kids that are having a tough time get one on one attention from a staff member and every professional attempt is made to help the child calm down and return to the classroom.

It saddens me that none if the really positive things happening in this school were even mentioned. It saddens me that an article wasn't written, tearing the school apart, when BPS ran it and over half of the students were not at grade level proficiency. Where was your outrage then? If you want to know how terrible this place is you should schedule a visit. You might just be surprised at how skewed this article was.

Oh...and this school is public. No charter attached!

up
Voting closed 0

“Any removal from the school we take incredibly serious and before that can happen we have to go through a very complex process that is checked by our receiver before any exclusion is authorized,” says Jabari Peddie, UP Academy Holland’s principal.

Quire the role model. Seriously?

up
Voting closed 0