*Originally published in the News & Observer
Incidents of school crime and violence, short- and long-term suspensions, alternative learning program placements and corporal punishment were all down last school year. The Department of Public Instruction and school districts have been quick to tout the progress. Teachers and administrators deserve praise for keeping more students in school and out of the school-to-prison pipeline.
However, five serious concerns deserve attention from education administrators, policymakers and lawmakers.
1) Too many students are still being pushed out of school. During 2013-14, North Carolina K-12 public schools handed out 198,254 short-term suspensions, 1,088 long-term suspensions and 37 expulsions. Students missed over 650,000 school days because of out-of-school suspension. Research shows that these students face an increased risk of academic, psychological and behavioral problems, and that suspension brings only negligible benefit to the classroom environment.