Carolyn Randazzo: St Louis Post-Dispatch

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Writing Letter to The EditorI read with a great deal of interest the thoughtful and intelligently penned letter to the editor of the St Louis Post-Dispatch written by Carolyn Randazzo. I certainly feel her concern and passion regarding the education crisis in the United States.

She speaks like an educator, but I doubt that she is a teacher. I suspect she never had a knife pulled on her by a 6th grader who was mad that she took away the kid’s smart phone. I wonder if she ever had a parent challenge her to a fight in school parking lot? Her reference to Positive Behavior Intervention Supports sounds good, but many inner city elementary students are incorrigible and need to be suspended for the safety of the classroom and teacher.

The idealized opinions of parents who have never set foot in the classroom have very little value when it comes attempting to solve the problems of out of control kids. Some kids are mean little punks who need to be in some type of custody and OUT of the classroom. Most teachers do NOT get paid enough to deal with dangerous kids from dysfunctional and broken families.

The school-to-prison pipeline (“Elementary suspensions are pipeline to problems,” March 22) must be shut down and dismantled. It is far more toxic to our country than even the Keystone XL pipeline. It must be replaced with a fully funded foundation formula (“School funding matters,” March 25).(What is more toxic is young people getting married too early and having 5 children they can NOT take care of. These are the very children that disrupt the classroom with suspension and expulsion a likely outcome)

Suspending and expelling children from school does not solve the discipline troubles some students display at school. It does not improve student achievement. It does not help our students learn. Suspending may temporarily remove a disruptive student from the classroom, but it does not solve the problem. Data have shown that the achievement of all students in schools with high suspension rates is lower than in schools with low suspension rates. A child not in school is not learning and achieving.

Our students need support, not suspensions. Implementing a Community Learning Center model for our public schools will put the support that students need in their neighborhood school. Student achievement has improved in every community that has adopted this model(This statement is not completely accurate…there are communities who have implemented this model where student achievement has remained stagnant), whether they are urban, suburban or rural. Usually this support includes restorative discipline practices such as Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. Students stay in school, learning the academics and behaviors they need to reach their God-given potential.

Yes, school funding matters. If the foundation formula was fully funded, as a Republican-majority Legislature and governor constructed and passed into law, our children would receive the support they need to be successful. They would be members of smaller classes, taught by a well-paid teacher, during a longer school day, at the very least. At the very most, they would be supported on, not suspended from, the road to success in life.

Carolyn Randazzo • Ferguson

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