Over at the Law Professors Blog Network, Derek Black offers some insight on the importance of funding to obtaining better school discipline outcomes. Specifically, Black looks at Nashville and the positive impact a state grant had on reducing discipline referrals.
He starts by referencing some past analysis regarding funding, achievement gaps, and suspensions:
A month ago, I tried to show how school quality and school discipline are intertwined. I talked about my prior research, put up a fancy color-coded map of school funding and achievement gaps from Bruce Baker and another fancy color-coded map of school suspensions by the ACLU and UCLA Civil Rights project. A rough mashing together of these two maps showed that the funding and achievement gaps had substantial overlap with school suspensions.
Then, he turns to a pretty clear piece of evidence from Nashville:
The Tennessean reports that “[t]he increased support for students has helped almost every school see a reduction in office discipline referrals, helping keep kids in the classroom.” The first school to implement the trauma informed practices saw “the most promising results, with a 97-percent reduction in discipline referrals.” All but one of the other schools also saw impressive reductions:
- Fall-Hamilton Elementary — 97 percent reduction in year one and a 53 percent reduction in year two over the previous year.
- Eakin Elementary — 73 percent reduction.
- Waverly Belmont Elementary — 29 percent reduction.
- Napier Elementary — 15 percent reduction.
- Hermitage Elementary — 60 percent reduction.
- Inglewood Elementary — One percent reduction.
- Tulip Grove Elementary — 52 percent reduction.
- Meigs Magnet Middle Prep — 37 percent reduction.
So if someone asks what money buys, it buys district and school coordinators for the program, reduced suspensions, and more time in the classroom.
The bottom line: Spending on quality programs has an impact. Money matters.
While Black notes the specific impact of the grant-funded program at select Nashville schools, it’s worth noting that Tennessee fails to adequately fund school counselors, school nurses, and trained interventionists (though a small RTI component was just added to the state’s funding formula). While education experts have noted the shortcomings, little has been done to actually make improving funding a priority. In fact, Tennessee has remained relatively stagnant in terms of funding in recent years.
Tennessee policymakers have been told what works and now have a very clear example of an intervention that gets results. So far, they’ve not been willing to act on this knowledge.
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