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Dashboard to a new ideology

The California School Board Association AND the California Association of School Administrators opposed suspension bans. (Washburn, 2019)

Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed or cut down two previous suspension ban bills in 2012 and 2014. (Washburn, 2019)

The California Teachers Association (CTA) lobbied against suspension ban bills for years. (Sheeler, 2019)


But when SB 419 passed in April this year, it was broadly supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the California PTA, American Academy of Pediatrics (Sheeler, 2019), the California School Board Association, and the California Association of School Administrators (Washburn, 2019); with the only group opposing this first-in-the-nation legislation the Charter School Development Center (Sheeler, 2019). 

What happened?

What caused this sea change for this much-hated, and much-watched by other states, reform?

You might guess that "Political ideologies have changed the interpretation of laws and practice," like St. John, Daunt-Barnett, and Maronski-Chapman argue in Public Policy and Higher Education (2018). But what shaped those ideologies?

Ideologies are shaped by big and small events that move Advocacy Coalitions (Rippner, 2016). In this case:
1) civil liberties groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL, 2014) recognized that African Americans, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA students, and Native American students miss much classroom time due to exclusionary discipline practices (EDP) that cause the disproportionate suspension and expulsion and lead to the school-to-prison pipeline  that eventually led to large-scale, national reports (Office for Civil Rights, 2016; US Government Accountability Office, 2018).
2) The California Department of Education changed the school accountability plan and went from the punitive, school takeover model that featured hard-to-read reports and high stakes testing for schools to the California Dashboard program with less required punishment for schools based on performance but a very public, color-coded report code on schools based on equity issues and growth (California School Dashboard, 2019). The Dashboard, with the official tagline "Let the Conversations Begin," is credited with moving the opinions of California School Board Association and the California Association of School Administrators (Washburn, 2019).
3) Although CTA originally opposed the suspension bans, district policies in some of the state largest districts, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, Pasadena, demonstrated how restorative practices improved school culture and caused more teacher support (Public Counsel, 2014).
4) California Commission on Teaching Credentialing (CTC) was the first state to commit to training all new administrators in classroom management and positive school discipline (Public Counsel, 2014).
5) The new Local Control Funding Formula in 2013 resulted in many large districts such as Santa Rosa, Berkeley, Santa Ana, and Azusa using LCAP monies to train teachers and implement restorative justice programs to transform the punitive school culture that caused so many suspensions (Public Counsel, 2014).

Groups, synchronized and separate, worked toward the altruistic goal of equity and turned the tide of public opinion and changed the state policy via SB 420 and then 419. But even as early as 2014 (Public Counsel, 2014; Office for Civil Rights, 2016), implementation was the wrinkle. Districts that chose EDP reform themselves, through LCAP or other means, have made huge gains in equalizing suspension rates, but too many districts do not have the resources or capacity to make these changes yet.

It remains to be seen how districts can be encouraged to take up this challenge for improvement.



References:
California Enacts First-in-the-Nation Law to Eliminate Student Suspensions for Minor Misbehavior - Press Releases - Public Counsel. (September 27, 2014). Retrieved July 13, 2019, from http://www.publiccounsel.org/press_releases?id=0088
California School Dashboard (CA Dept of Education). (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2019, from https://www.caschooldashboard.org/
Key Data Highlights on Equity and Opportunity Gaps in Our Nation’s Public Schools. 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection. A First Look. Revised. (2016). Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED577234.pdf
Rippner, J. A. (2015). The American education policy landscape. Routledge.
Sheeler, A. (2019, April 24). California could soon ban schools from suspending “unruly” students. Retrieved July 13, 2019, from sacbee website: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article229645389.html
St. John, E. P., Daun-Barnett, N., & Moronski-Chapman, K. M. (2018). Public Policy and Higher Education: Reframing Strategies for Preparation, Access, and College Success. Routledge.
Sweeney, A. D., author: Sarah B. Bush and Kristin L. Cook, Fisher, A. D., Robb, A. L., & Author: Jessica And. (2018, April 9). The Hidden Inequities in California’s Suspension Rates: Part I - Corwin Connect. Retrieved July 13, 2019, from Corwin Connect website: https://corwin-connect.com/2018/04/the-hidden-inequities-in-californias-suspension-rates/
U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2018). K-12 Education: Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities. (GAO-18-258). Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov//assets/700/690828.pdf
Washburn, D. (2019, February 27). Renewed push underway to expand California’s ban on some suspensions. Retrieved July 13, 2019, from EdSource website: https://edsource.org/2019/california-bill-would-ban-suspensions-in-all-grades/609207



Comments

  1. Amy, this is an excellent example of how changing ideologies impact policy and law. I think people hear the phrase, "suspension bans," and the knee-jerk reaction to that is to dismiss it. Suspensions have been around forever, people probably think it sounds crazy to completely do away with them. However, involved interest groups like the Anti-defamation league and other civil rights groups communicating their ideals along with data, have the power to change whole systems. The inequity in suspensions is so obvious once you break out the numbers, and should be at the forefront of a school district's restorative justice initiatives. It's very encouraging as an educational leader and inspiring.

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