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State tells Roxbury Prep charter school to stop suspending so many students

The Globe reports state education officials say Roxbury Prep's suspension rate - way, way, way higher than the state average - is too high. The demand comes as Roxbury seeks city approval to build a new high school in Roslindale.

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Why does the state care how many kids Roxbury Prep suspends? Did it say?

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They spend a lot of time keeping schools accountable to their own standards. Of course they care about how many kids the school suspends. The "no excuses" model of school discipline is not tenable in this current climate of opioid crisis. I was at a community meeting months ago and heard about a kid suspended because he was 10 minutes late to school after taking both his siblings to school because their guardian was MIA.

You know where those kids go once they've been suspended enough to be kicked out? Back to BPS, which takes them in mid-year without any state funding for those kids.

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I'll have to read the article later.

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The rate is much higher than state averages. According to the article, some students end up with a suspension from repeated minor infractions (like forgetting to change into dress shoes). They also suspend at higher rate students who are minorities, disabled, or who have English as a second language.

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All of these "we whip them into shape" programs -- in which I include most charter schools plus community programs that work intensively to teach kids an instrument or other college-readiness skills for free or little cost -- achieve their goals through militaristic standards and kicking kids out at the drop of a hat. Or for wearing a hat.

This isn't to say they also don't do good, but the boot camp mentality and the suspensions/expulsions are a problem. You have these programs saying that "100% of our graduates went to college" or whatever it is, but how many of their 9th graders/7th graders/1st graders (depending on the program) were even given a chance to complete the program?

Charter schools particularly need to be held accountable for this, because they run on public school funds, but don't actually have to serve all students despite their claims that they do. Regular public school systems don't get to kick kids out, actually at all; they still have to pay their tuition if they end up in a specialized school for students with significant difficulties.

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exactly. charter schools impress the public with these college acceptance rates and mcas scores and say they're so much better than public schools and shouldn't we fund more charters and blah blah blah - but the way they do this, by and large, is using expulsion and hostile environment to weed kids out. look at the difference between class size for first year and finishing class sizes - some schools manage to get rid of over half their students, and since they're dismissed for "behavior" etc, it doesn't ding their scores the way, say "we get rid of all ELL learners cuz they drag the average MCAS down" does.

then boston has to take all of those kids while the cream of the crop is skimmed off to the exam schools and all the midrange kids who pass the tests manage to stay in charters, so no wonder the system is such a mess

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There are a number of inaccuracies in this and other comments here, but let me ask - if you were in a sci fi movie where you bumped into a struggling inner city parent and suddenly changed places with them, would you want your kid going to a typical BPS school (assuming he/she couldn't get into an exam school or one of the "better schools" like the Eliot, the Kilmer etc.) or would you try to enroll in a charter (or METCO for that matter)?

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the issues with the school are, like many social ills in this city, the result of people making the best individual choices for themselves writ large. see: blocking the box - makes sense for an individual to do, or they will never get through, but done commonly, creates a shitshow mess.

as such you have to solve these issues at the structural level, because it's unrealistic and unfair to expect individuals to all choose against their own personal best interests in the hope of building a groundswell to fix it. you know, structural fixes, like the state intervening on particularly egregious charter schools and telling them to stop using petty made up suspensions to weed out "bad" students. huh. funny how that works.

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Charter schools aren't required or willing to accommodate kids with more than very mild/straightforward disabilities, so there's my answer. Though even if they were welcoming, I wouldn't likely choose one.

Keep in mind though that whether someone should use something that is currently available and whether it should be available are separate issues. This paradigm comes up a lot in discussions of gentrification.

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On the one hand, the school system needs to serve every kid.

On the other hand, kids who want to learn would be well served by classrooms that are free of disruptive, misbehaving children.

On the third hand, society would be well served by giving those disruptive, misbehaving kids an education, and by exposing them to the mainstream, by including them in mainstream classrooms.

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If this school is so great, and also crows about how many prospective students it attracts, why would it be so aggressive about denying access to its curriculum to so many of its actual students?

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