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The Role of Suspensions
       A common issue of debate is whether suspensions are beneficial or harmful. This is not a simple issue, as it depends on the individual student, his or her age and ability and what infraction has occurred. A suspension should not be administered for a minimal issue and, I believe, it has a negative do-loop effect on younger students. Being suspended frequently leads to less effort in school and a greater likelihood that the problems may reoccur. Other issues, however, come into play as the maturity of the student increases.
       I agree with the view that suspensions usually do not change the pattern of repeating offenders. Being suspended is “free time” that interferes with their education and increases the likelihood of failure in the future. The absence makes the content of the classes less meaningful and they see less value in education as a whole. Being suspended does not directly encourage them to invest more time and energy to resolve the problems, which often are caused by factors outside of school.
       An important point to remember is that a high school student spends less than 2% of the year with any individual teacher. Society somehow expects the teachers to resolve issues that all too often are beyond their realm of control. The best we can do in many cases is find ways to work around those problems. When the problems are too great, we must look at the broader picture.
       If a student’s conflict is not caused by a major, underlying issue and the problem is a singular occurrence, then a suspension may succeed at steering him or her back on track. If such occurs, it might fully justify the suspension. This is not a common occurrence, and an alternate action is likely to have the same effect. Therefore, that is not the issue that needs to be focused upon.
       The bigger, more important question regards the students who have repeating offenses. All too often, the cause is beyond our control and a suspension is very unlikely to have a positive influence regarding the guilty individual. It is critical, however, to recognize that the punishment may have a positive impact on other students, both in the classroom and in the school. Removing disruptive students allows the other students to learn more by being in a more positive environment. Furthermore, seeing that repercussions follow misbehavior can help other students decide to refrain from following the negative examples.
       Similarly, seeing that ‘problem’ students are held accountable for their actions has a positive influence on the teachers. It improves their morale and therefore has a positive influence on the school, the classroom and their students’ education. Finding that students who disrupt the class are allowed to stay in the room, continuing their negative actions, erodes the effort and performance of most teachers. That has a critical nfluence on the education being offered to the majority of the student body and thus cannot be left out of consideration in deciding on the action taken in response to negative behavior.
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