Brooklyn Center Schools See Results From Discipline Changes
Numbers from the Minnesota Department of Education show that African-American students were eight times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts. Knowing that, Brooklyn Center administration decided to change their approach to discipline.
Education is vital to a child’s future. For students of color, being suspended from their place of education happens more often to them than their white peers.
“When we look at our data it show us that our African American students make up about 45-47 percent of our populations dependent upon the school within the school district,” says Dr. Carly Baker the superintendent of Brooklyn Center Schools. “They account for upwards of 85 percent of both our classroom referrals as well as our out of school suspensions.”
This disparity isn’t unique to Brooklyn Center schools. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Education, African-American students were eight times more likely to be suspended in Minnesota than their white counterparts.
“It doesn’t reform behavior,” added Dr. Baker. “Suspension doesn’t change choices all it does is provide permanent damage. “
Knowing the damage suspensions and expulsions can cause to students, Brooklyn Center schools started changing their approach to discipline.
“There are behaviors that will occur that have to result in an out of school suspension,” add Dr. Baker. “We’ve dramatically reduced what those behaviors are and we work from the standpoint of really trying to bridge with families and to partner as opposed to exclude.”
Decrease in Disparity
The changes created by the district has helped decrease the disparity.
“In February, when we looked at the data from February of last year we were down in classroom referrals by 500,” added Dr. Baker. “Suspensions were down by 50 to 60. Changing the philosophy and moving towards a growth mindset to really work on building kids up instead of pushing them out has been the big shift.”
The district knows the issue is still prevalent but they are continuing to work fixing the issue.
“We are very transparent about the fact that we have a long way to go,” says Dr. Baker. “We have a lot of work to do in order to create an environment that is welcoming for all of our students.”
The district is working to create an environment that is suitable for students of every race and background.
“Every single one of our students deserves respect,” stated Dr. Baker. “We need to see our kids. We need to allow them to show up in our space to and be their authentic self. Allowing that makes the entire community just that much stronger.”