We would guess that most teachers in NYC are not happy about the DOE's recent changes to the Discipline Code. The new Code will prevent principals from suspending students for many categories of first-time offenses; instead, the offenders will be "treated" with:
*"restorative approaches"; and
*"circle processes" (see here).
The NY Daily News refers to these techniques as "psychobabble and touch-feely gobbledegook," and we think they've got a point (see also Marc Epstein's kind words in the New York Post about the new policy).
There are some teachers who aren't just unhappy about these changes. These teachers are positively jittery. That's because they work for the Alternate Learning Centers, which is where students are taught during their suspensions. A friend of ours who works at an ALC sent in the following:
Will fewer students be suspended because of the new Discipline Code? And will that ultimately lead to ALC teachers being excessed and forced into the ATR [Absent Teacher Reserve]?
This question was raised today at our beginning-of-the-year meeting with Anthony Orzo, the Superintendent of District 88, the citywide district that includes all the ALCs.
Mr. Orzo had a really interesting answer. He said he thought that suspension numbers would actually go up--because of changes in Special Education policy. The new policy will force principals to keep Special Ed. students in their zoned schools, where they will be taught in Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms (see here). In another words, students with academic and emotional difficulties will be taught in the same large groups that everyone else finds themselves in these days.
Mr. Orzo predicted that many of these children will become frustrated, will act out, and will be suspended. Bad news for them, but good news for me and my colleagues at the ALCs.