Disparities in Discipline at Your School

Samuel Sinyangwe has a Twitter thread on how to use the US Dept. of Education data on racial disparities to research discrimination against marginalized groups at your school.

Search for your district on this page, and then follow the link to its discipline report.

Here’s my school district, Dripping Springs ISD, and its discipline report.

 

Discipline Report
Screenshot of the first page of the discipline report for DSISD showing pie charts for enrollment, in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions broken down by race/ethnicity.

Black students are 0.7% of enrollment and account for 2.1% of in-school suspensions, 7.1% of out-of-school suspensions, 0% of expulsions, and 2.7% of referrals to law enforcement.

Hispanic students are 20.1% of enrollment and account for 28.1% of in-school suspensions, 21.4% of out-of-school suspensions, 50% of expulsions, and 34.2% of referrals to law enforcement.

IDEA students are 9.7% of enrollment and account for 36.5% of in-school suspensions, 42.9% of out-of-school suspensions, 50% of expulsions, and 31.5% of referrals to law enforcement.

Those IDEA rates are depressingly typical. Schools over-discipline disabled children. There is a discipline gap that’s both racist and ableist. Between compliance culture, deficit ideology, and classrooms hostile to neurodiversity, neurodivergent and disabled students face systems designed for burnout and exclusion.

Passion-based Learning and School Culture

Change the culture and user experience of schools. Culture doesn’t come from a box. It’s not proprietary and rented from a corporation. Culture doesn’t have someone else’s trademark on it. Culture isn’t posters and word images.  Culture must be made from within with grassroots involvement.

Create a culture of neurodiverse teams of passion-based learners using technology to communicate, collaborate, iterate, and launch to authentic audiences of fellow humans. Tech won’t find its place in education until self-directed, passion-based inclusion replaces the lecture and deficit models.

Agile teams, distributed collaboration, and the hacker ethos of flexible improvisation and rapid iteration are powerful artifacts of the disruptive rise of software. They are life and industry changing. When informed with neurodiversity and the social model of disability in an open by default culture, they are a future for education and work where we collaborate and iterate our way through massive software-driven change. We will navigate disruption with compassion, finding opportunity and inspiration in the diversity of our shared humanity. We are humans making things for and with other humans, helping each other cope with sentience and senescence on our pale blue dot. Communicate, collaborate, iterate, launch. With these tools we’ll make it through.

There is thoughtlessness all around us, in all human systems. In this thoughtlessness is opportunity. Engage learners in designing for real life. Start by designing a shared, grassroots culture together with students.

Culture can be the foundation for all future innovation, or it can be the single biggest resistance to innovation. Don’t fuck up culture.

A great fallacy born from the failure to study culture is the assumption that you can take a practice from one culture and simply jam it into another and expect similar results. Much of what bad managers do is assume their job is simply to find new things to jam and new places to jam them into, without ever believing they need to understand how the system—the system of people known as culture—works.

Source: Why Culture Always Wins

Culture always wins over tools and technologies, but most of the business world is tone deaf to understanding culture.

Source: FAQ about The Year Without Pants (with satisfying answers)

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Why we stay at Automattic: culture and autonomy

Source: 2016 Year Review

School Board Election Transparency and Flow

My family didn’t realize an election for Dripping Springs ISD was happening until my mom received an early voting ballot in the mail. After too much digging, we found this page on the pretty awful district website.

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The bios there are a handful of paragraphs that do not communicate vision or provide much of a writing sample. I need writing samples to elect someone to a school board. School systems demand much of our kids, and school representatives should put at least as much effort into their campaign writing as a student does on a writing prompt on a standardized test.

Finding the election information page took some doing. The district website is a tough one to navigate and follow. The main sections of the site are District News and Calendar. I can find no mention of the election in either section. To find the election page, you must search for “election”.

How easy is the election to find from social media?  A search for “election” on the district’s Facebook page has no results since 2013.

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Twitter fares no better. A search for “election” there likewise doesn’t turn up anything since 2013.

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How about on independent websites? Searching the local watering hole blog turns up nothing about the election. How about the city’s website? Neither “election” or “trustees” turns up election information.

How about the candidates, how visible are they? I found Facebook groups for the two incumbents. One is closed to comments without joining the group and the other is closed completely without joining the group and has only 12 members.

This is not transparent.

What to do about it? Well, I recently met Austin Kids First at a do_action event. They are working on transparency and candidate cultivation in Austin ISD. Sounds like AISD was in a similar situation a few years ago. I get the feeling this is typical of most districts. Now, thankfully, these questionnaires offer a sense of the vision, policy and writing of AISD board candidates.

I’d like DSISD candidates to answer the questions in those questionnaires as well as these:

  • Are you on board with Most Likely to Succeed and project-based learning?
  • Where can I go online to find out about you and your vision for Dripping Springs education?
  • What is the board’s role in modernizing the tools and workflow of DSISD to accommodate project-based learning and transparency?
  • What is the board’s role in ensuring that the digital, physical, and cultural infrastructure of DSISD accommodates all people, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, neurodivergence, personal appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or nationality.
  • Should creationism be taught in school?

I think those give a feel for a candidate’s grasp of modernity. The first question is particularly important given that DSISD is becoming a district of innovation so it can embrace the Most Likely to Succeed narrative and project-based learning. This is a big deal, yet I know nothing about the candidates’ positions on MLTS and project-based learning. The district’s social media and website have said nothing about it since announcing some screenings of the film back in January.

We need an Austin Kids First style effort for DSISD, and the district needs some publishing and social media flow. I happen to know some people who can help with publishing, for free, including freedom zero. Involve students in the project of bringing modern, open source publishing flow to the district with the help of volunteers from the communities and companies that will be in some of their futures. Start project-based learning by involving them in publishing and technology. Allow them advocacy and agency by letting them participate in building the digital infrastructure of a modern, project-based, transparent district in touch with the creative commons and the future of work.