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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

Ann Arbor schools starting new effort to close racial 'discipline gap'

By Danielle Arndt

Superintendent Patricia Green told the Ann Arbor school board that she's taking new steps to close a so-called "discipline gap" and expects by March to outline a comprehensive district-wide plan to reach that goal.

The information was presented Wednesday at a meeting when the Board of Education heard new student suspension data from the 2010-2011 academic year that shows consistent discipline disparity among students of different races and income levels.


It’s no secret the district traditionally has had a disproportionate number of black, special needs and economically disadvantaged students be removed or suspended from the classroom, said Board President Deb Mexicotte.

In 2010-2011, nearly 1,200 students were suspended from the district’s middle and high schools. Of those students, 42.2 percent were black and 20.5 percent were classified as “other,” a group officials said included many Hispanics.

Those numbers compare to 33.9 percent for white students, creating a disparity since 8,627, or 52.3 percent, of the district’s 16,509 students last year were white. Black students made up 14.3 percent of the entire student body.

The 2010-2011 data also shows that an average of about 35 percent of suspended students have special needs and an average of about 58 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Mexicotte said this issue is something schools nationwide struggle with. But Green has a track record for reducing the number of suspensions in the previous districts she has served.

“This makes me believe we really can do this in a way I never have before,” Mexicotte said, following a presentation Green gave to trustees.

“I believe in your leadership and experience and in the experience of our staff, both old and new.

"And I believe in this board. I believe we finally have all of the right components in place to actually address this.”

Green said improving consistency in school-wide practices and policies while educating teachers and administrators on the roles that social and emotional needs can play in misbehavior will diminish the “discipline gap” at AAPS.

Closing the discipline gap also is critical to eliminating the district’s achievement gap, she said.

“One thing that caught my attention (when interviewing for the superintendent’s position) … was the achievement gap is being looked at on purely the curriculum side,” Green said.

“But the other components that are very significant are the emotional and social sides. … Social and emotional learning will enhance safe and caring classrooms.”

She said students who misbehave are attempting to accomplish one or more of four primary goals: To get attention, to express anger or enact revenge, to show or gain power or to avoid failure. She said many educators fail to recognize and address the purpose of students’ negative behavior.

“There also needs to be an increased awareness of the potential for bias when issuing referrals for discipline,” Green said.

The superintendent is working on a more comprehensive course of action, but Green said she has two specific steps she would like to see the district do:

  • Host professional development days to establish and coach consistent interpretation of offenses and
  • Find ways to increase and promote student leadership opportunities for peer mediation and conflict resolution.

One piece Green already has begun is monthly data collections outlining attendance and disciplinary actions at each school building. She also is piloting a soon-to-be universal form for referring students for disciplinary action. She said the district had at least seven different forms it had been using.

A single, district-wide form is part of her plan to improve consistency and collaboration at AAPS.

Treasurer Irene Patalan said much of Green’s presentation resonated with her, especially the part about looking at the data more holistically and looking for patterns to see where the majority of student discipline referrals are coming from. She said, however, if students and staff are going to receive trainings on how to address behavioral issues, she would love it if the board could as well.

Trustee Simone Lightfoot seconded Patalan’s request. She added while she is happy the administration is developing a plan to address the disproportionality of student suspensions at AAPS, she remains upset by the data.

“The numbers are egregious,” she said. “They are embarrassing and distressing to me. I kept turning the pages (of the report) and was mad and sad and all kinds of things. The numbers are horrible. … I can’t stress that enough.”

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

Perhaps these demographics have more behavior problems, so naturally they would have more suspensions. Is this really so upsetting? And lest we forget, one way that children get the Special Needs label is by having, yes, behavior problems. So basically kids with behavior problems have behavior problems. Why is anyone surprised?


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

Hold on a second, what is wrong with this picture? last time I looked at the A2 school, there is a sizable other minority ratio. Have we actually taken a look at the discipline issue with them. There is a significant Asian student body. Has A2 schools taken a look at the discipline gap there. Maybe there maybe a greater gap between whites and Asian. This has become a red herring. We are losing our competitive advantage with the rest of the world, while we are in the midst of social engineering. I can guarantee you, this kids would have their rears raw. if they behaved this way in most of Africa. What hypocrisy.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

Notably, Simone Lightfoot's rhetoric also has suggested that "...we are not consistent..." in taking disciplinary actions against students of color. I think it disingenuous of her to intimate that suspensions may be a matter of institutional targeting/persecuting a single minority group. Suspensions are not issued lightly and never by the judgment of a single teacher. They are often administrative actions taken after a precipitating incident and constitute a deliberative process that often involves many school administrators (including principals). And, Ann Arbor has no shortage of school principals and administrators of color. Suggesting that disciplinary action is inequitably applied presumes that behavioral issues ARE equitably distributed among the different populations. If this is true, shall we ask ourselves why the numbers are so low for the Asian students (they're less than half the Caucasian students...)? (Why oh why are the white kids being persecuted!!!) I think the belief that there is an 'inconsistency' in the application of disciplinary action provides students (and parents) of color a convenient excuse--racial bias. It sends white teachers scurrying for cover, and allows the bad actors to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

It is disingenuous of her to intimate (at this point in time) that suspensions may be a matter of institutional targeting/persecuting a single minority group but this is the all too typical pseudo reasoning of an egalitarian, a person determined to believe the races are just alike behaviorally no matter how much evidence there is pointing away from such a position. It's like people who believe in life after death, the overwhelming evidence that personal memory and awareness cease upon death has no effect on the dogma they cling to.

Andrew Smith

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Pro-active approaches might be helpful here: prior to ninth grade, identify those students who are at risk for disciplinary violations. Enroll them in a special class which would last one week; this would be the week immediately prior to the first day of school in September. The class would a type of "boot camp" to teach them self-discipline. Students who avoid disciplinary situations are those who've learned to discipline themselves.

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

Won't happen in AAPS too many of one culture would end up being recommended!

David Longley

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Assuming that the vast majority of the people posting comments are from near Ann Arbor, it is refreshing to see that the vast majority of commenters understand what is really happening here. I've talked to teachers in the AA schools who are extremely frustrated at what is going on, but feel powerless to change the prevailing politically correct administration policies. Years ago, I had a Black teacher who demanded the same performance from Black students as White students. This University of Michigan Master of Arts graduate had been a civil rights activist in Birmingham and was even run out of town by Bull Connor, but for expecting equal performance, he was called an Uncle Tom. You just can't win.

John of Saline

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

That's sad to hear.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

This racial behavioral gap is even greater than it looks for the teachers already give blacks far more leeway because they are aware of the gap and fear being labeled racist. The solution for black delinquency is on blacks and blacks alone to improve their behavior. No school policy is going to change this.

Hot Sam

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

What I find interesting is how one letter can steer the debate in a desired direction.... Like the difference between "infraction" and "infractions"....


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:26 a.m.

this ridiculous "discipline gap" give-racist-goons-who-assault-whiteys-a-pass approach was obviously inspired and encouraged after attorney general of the united states eric holder refused to prosecute those club-toting new black panthers thugs who intimidated and discouraged white and oriental voters at a philadelphia polling place on election day 2008. eric needs a color-sensitive make-over for his blatant racism, preferably an orange jumpsuit worn behind dark prison bars. btw, did ms. green or ms. mexicotte consult any of the white victims or their parents about this "let's give goons a pass" approach???

David Longley

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:22 a.m.

I think we can all read between the lines here. In the interest of "fairness", minority students and other protected groups will have to commit more serious offenses than nonminority students to be disciplined. And for the same offense, nonminority students will be punished more severely than minority students and other protected groups. These same administrators then wonder why many parents are choosing to homeschool their children, or feel the need to shell out big money for private schools. And the same kinds of things are happening thorughout our society in the interest of "fairness". One wonders who these policies are really fair to in the long run, as these students grow to adulthood and enter real society. .


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

This is a really unhelpful and not very well thought out comment. Maybe Pat Green is talking about raising the bar gently, getting more with honey than with vinegar.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:01 a.m.

I noticed that African Americans are 42.2 % of the disipline problems in the schools....I though ...hmmmm ....odd..... African Americans are about 42 % of the national prison population as well then I noticed that the district pipulation is about the same as the nation population of African Americans ... 12 - 13 % and don't let the SPECIAL NEEDS label throw you don't have to have DOWNS or Autism to be labeled special needs can be a chronic disipline problem as well and that will get you a special needs label as well


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

So long as all students are treated the same who cares if more blacks or more whites get suspended? To focus on race like this is RACIST.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

I wonder why the African American community isn't furious about how the AAPS defines its "culture". I can think of no better way to ensure negative stereotypes last into the future generations than dismissing bad behavior as an expected product of skin color. Patricia Green is probably not a racist, but her actions are far, far more damaging to African Americans than the most overt racists you could possibly find out there.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Macabre: The African American community is largely apathetic toward low income members of its race. Many have the same attitude that "racists" have toward those kids. Remember two years ago when an Arab girl falsely accused three kids from the Maple housing site of assault? The Arab kid had all kinds of organizations, i.e. CAIR, MCRD, etc. coming to assist her while the African American kids had absolutely no voice of support from the African American community. Had it not been for the due deligience of the prosecutor's office, these kids would have been falsely convicted of a crime that would have haunted them for the rest of their lives and interfered with their ability to become productive members of our community or society.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

Schools are supposed to be equalizers, where kids who come from chaotic backgrounds can experience calm and see alternate behaviors to model. if schools pander to unacceptable behavior because of race or "culture," there is no hope for the child who, through no fault of his or her own, has less than adequate parenting. Children who are given the opportunity to learn and conform to acceptable classroom behavior, and who then can or will not, should be removed into special classes/buildings designed specifically for kids with behavior and impulse control issues. A kid who is behind academically but is otherwise well-behaved isn't the issue. It's the violent, hostile ones that need to be removed from the mainstream classroom setting, regardless of race. There used to be something of a stigma attached to being sent to the "bad kids" class/school. That alone was enough to keep some kids in line at school. We do children a great disservice when we insulate them from the consequences of their actions.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

"It's the violent, hostile ones that need to be removed from the mainstream classroom setting, regardless of race." Totally agree, but with all the cuts in AAPS, even the special ed classrooms are understaffed, and many violent students need to be placed in other settings, such as WISD, but parents dont' want it. They would rather say their child attends AAPS, regardless of how bad that placement may be for the student. The parents in these cases are more concerned with their own ego than doing what is right for their children.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

It's called being afraid of a lawsuit from a parent who claims the teacher disciplined their child because he or she was a minority.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

Another contributing issue to A2's problems is the increasing number of students who are scamming the attendance system and living with "aunts, uncles and cousins" who live in the boundary areas. No one checks that these are in fact relatives, or whether the student actually lives in that residence. The district should require notarized paperwork that legally shows the relationship of these so-called relatives, and there needs to be documented proof that the student actually lives there, and isn't living somewhere else outside the boundary. Require a legal, sworn statement by the relative, for example. Many of these students are not the best and brightest, rather they are students who have failed elsewhere and come to A2, and in many cases, are creating the same havoc they created elsewhere. This is a problem in many parts of the country, where failing students sneak into adjacent districts, and it needs to be addressed. A2 may like the money that comes with a higher headcount, but not having a system in place to verify these students has consequences for the overall discipline issues in the schools. When these students sneak in at the high school level, they get caught up in the chaos of the large high school building populations, and with all the staff cuts, there is little that can be done other than more disciplinary measures, which are lacking in my view. In addition, it is not fair to the taxpaying residents of the district who support the schools with their tax dollars for the residents of the community. A2 schools have enough problems of their own to deal with.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

AAPS has an open enrollment policy to attract students from other districts, because they know the enrollment in AAPS will tank without these new students. It would be interesting to find out how many of the open enrollment students are involved with disciplinary issues. But your post is right on target, $$$$$ trump quality students any day.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Surprise, surprise. Less than 24 hours and an article about AAPS is already off the front page. It's more important to discuss Ellen and Michigan football (no less than 3 stories) . I'm sure there is some logical explanation, but it sure happens a lot....


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

I agree. The articles are removed too quickly for good discussions to take place.

Hot Sam

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

We get what we tolerate...


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

We should spend $50,000 on an outside consultant to study the issue.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:38 a.m.

As I read the article I was happy that my kids graduated already. My spouse works at one of the High Schools, and talks about how so many kids are unruly. Yes, it starts in the home and as others have stated it's a reality that kids from an economically advantaged home with two parents tend to be better disciplined than those from a poorer home with one parent. Given that reality, anyone that expects disciplinary acts to be proportionally distributed across racial or economic demographic criteria clearly did not do well in their High School statistics classes....


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

I was wondering if I was the only one feeling this way! The behavior would not have been tolerated at my high school


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

I urge any parent in A2 to visit one of the high schools and walk through the halls during passing time. Or pop into one of the classes. Spend a little time walking around and see for yourselves what goes on inside these buildings and the kind of behavior that is tolerated.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8 a.m.

Not really funny but I recall (from the late 50s) when any kid who "pushed" a teacher would find himself confronted by one of our gym teachers (one noted for his temper). The kid would go home with bruises but with a whole new attitude and respect for teachers. It also happened that some male students would "handle" any other male student who disrespected a teacher. This was in a small suburb of Detroit - where "going to the cops" or a lawyer about 'teacher abuse of student' was a laughable concept. We had one high school: discipline was so good that kids who were members of the teacher-sponsored rifle club brought their guns (or their dad's gun) - with ammunition- to school and locked them in their lockers for after-school trips to the firing range. I have the year book pics to prove this. Gangs? Hey - there were attempts at forming gangs back then too. These were systematically destroyed by going after each and every "member" of any gang that tried to establish itself. There's no "discipline gap" but there is an organized resistance to teen misbehaviors GAP today. When parents and teachers and cops and ALL the adults and MOST of the students back up a no-tolerance policy: things quiet down in a big hurry. The other fancy wording for this is having a united, cohesive society - which stands against any significant form of teen misbehaviors. OTH: those students were always given the option to "straighten up and fly right" - a kind of conformity which proved rewarding to many.

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

which suburb?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3 a.m.

so AAPS is facing a $15 million deficit... ....they spend $342,000.00 (at last report) on PEG to close the achievement gap. They look to move Scarlett to a balanced calendar so they can better compete academically. Now they want to spend more resources to fix families...all in the name of political correctness. Either a kid misbehaves and deserves punishment, or he/she doesn't. It is that simple. Why does race have be brought into just about every issue with AAPS? Our teachers already have their hands tied with so many AAPS has to monitor/train them about which students can be disciplined? I wonder what Patricia Green's explanation will be when this fails and we're facing an even bigger deficit?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

The behavioral differences between the races are systemic so either every school district in the nation (including those run by blacks) is unfairly treating black students with harsher punishment or blacks tend to have a higher juvenile delinquency rate. No matter how you slice it, if the blacks behave worse than whites, there is no getting rid of the disciplinary disparity unless preferential treatment is given to blacks and they are held to a lower standard of conduct.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:50 a.m.

I am not trying to offend anyone on here which is why I'm not singling any one of the particular comments on here out, but so many of you sound like arm chair quarterbacks watching tv on a Saturday afternoon with a beer in one hand and your remote in the other shouting at the coach telling him what to do. So unless you are on the field as a player or coach or have a directed vested interest in one or in this case, the parent of either a student who gets disciplined frequently or one who has a student in a class where something needs to be done about some particular students who are interrupting the learning environment or some other connection to students and a classroom, you really have no understanding of what all is going on in a classroom today. I'm not even going to place blame on a family or the student Where I am going to place blame, however, are arbitrary rules and regulations made by people who have no idea and also expecting everything to be applied 100% equally (such as politicians, some school administrators who don't spend enough time in a classroom - you can't be a fair disciplinarian from an office, etc.). First of all, we are dealing with people. People aren't equal. We can treat people equally. We should. That's a given. But in reality, it doesn't happen. Nor are we all equal. We aren't equal in family support. We aren't equal in income and resources. We aren't equal in how we raise our kids. Kids aren't equal in intelligence. They aren't factory widgets. They didn't all show up to high school with a 9th grade reading level. On the other hand, we are doing students a disservice if we don't hold all students to the same expectations both academically and behaviorally. That means, too, that we need to address the ones who aren't performing at expected grade level early on and we will prevent much of the discipline problems then and later on, regardless of background. But that takes resources which costs money. Ignorance will cost more.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

The previous comment is an example of a mindset that pervades education today. "Shut the heck up and keep sending us more money. Don't you know that we're experts? What you, as a mere taxpaying citizen thinks does not matter to us." When you do not respect us, do not be surprised when we do not respect you.

average joe

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

"...They didn't all show up to high school with a 9th grade reading level." There's another problem... I always wonder why this is acceptable. I'd like to know exactly how many students at all grade levels that were 'held back' this past year because they didn't achieve passing grades. When I was in school many students were held back.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

No mention of the PBIS system being rolled out in elementary buildings. It is a positive behavior system that rewards students for following expectations. Teachers and staff pass out coupons that children use for rewards and raffles.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

AMOC--do you mean that within some schools, some staff don't follow a consistent standard of expected behavior? If so, why do you think that is?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

MSC - PBIS is being implemented in the middle schools as well, and will have to be rolled out the high schools as part of AAPS's response to an Office of Civil Rights complaint. The biggest barrier I've heard of to doing this well is achieving a consistent standard for behavior across the whole building and among the building staff. Those definitions, and actually teaching the kids what "respectful, responsible, safe" behavior looks like are the key to a fair, consistent discipline procedure. AAPS has a long way to go on this score, but they are working on it. The adult professionals are very far from agreement on the standards in several of the schools I'm familiar with.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

I know something must be done, but it is kind of sad that kids have to be rewarded for doing what they are supposed to be doing.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

AAPS handles discipline via what is Politically Correct, period. As teachers, we are considered racist if we expect some students to act appropriately in the classroom. We are told that it is not part of someone's culture. We are told that we are making some cultures "wear a mask" because we are expecting them to act in a way that is just not part of who they are. We are told that we can't change anything that happens outside of the school building (HOME, parents), and so we have to accept what is going on and deal with it in the school setting. Yes, the elementary children who are behavior problems get to play around in the office, have snacks, pretty much just have fun, oh, and of course, they don't have to do any school work while there. Kids can rip apart a classroom, destroy other students' things, threaten students, disrupt the learning in the classroom, and nothing happens. We are not allowed to send children out of the classroom when they misbehave, because we are removing them from their in classroom learning environment. It's okay if every other child gets cheated out of learning opportunities, we just can't discipline the behavior problems of a certain culture. AAPS has instituted a Positive Behavior Intervention Support program that has as its focus improving student behavior, it is based on the three ideas of BEING RESPECTFUL, BEING RESPONSIBLE, and BEING SAFE, so there already is a program working to improve student responsibility for their own behavior. So, with Green's new initiative, my bet is that we are just going to be learning more about cultures and how their behavior reflects valued aspects of their culture. Nothing is going to change. Sadly to say, elementary schools can't change the behaviors, because our hands are tied by Political Correctness. We recognize the problems, but aren't allowed to really do anything about them, so it is very challenging to effect a change.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

seems like cette is a business selling new scheme!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

So instead we should just pretend that everything is swell in the public schools so we don't frighten away the well-behaved kids? This is supply and demand. If AAPS cannot supply a safe learning environment, those who can, will leave. Seems like the ball is in AAPS's court to put their money where their mouth is and live up to their mission statement and objectives stated on their website.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

I agree with your post. The well-behaved students from all backgrounds are continually being cheated out of a good education because AAPS has a politically correct discipline policy. And I would add that AAPS appears to function from a position of fear from lawsuits from parents. Nothing will ever change in AAPS until they face the reality that there is a population of students from all backgrounds that need limits set on their behaviors and the teachers need to have the authority to discipline students, even if it means asking them to leave the room and go to the office, and that includes some majority students with huge chips on their shoulders who are rude and disrespectful. This is not about race, it's about students who come to school to create havoc and get away with it. The general public has no idea what goes on in some classrooms in AAPS.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Yours is a sad, sad post. In the meantime, everyone who possibly can is taking their kids out of public schools and putting them into private schools. No one is helped by the scenario you described. Not problem kids, and most certainly not well-behaved children who are there to learn.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

You dismiss PBIS as a tool of behavior improvement, which means it's not being implemented correctly. It does work, but there has to be staff buyin and mostly in these schools, not even the principals have buyin.

Michigan Man

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

I graduated from an Ann Arbor HS in 1967. How many BILLIONS of $ later are the Ann Arbor public schools still trying to solve this problem?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

I believe you are told that by Glenn Singleton, the 300,00 dollar man. And I completely agree with your post.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:30 a.m.

To chart the progress of this initiative, the AAPS should publish a monthly report showing the violation, race of the offender, discipline given and racial makeup of the school. This information would allow us to determine if there is a problem and if the discipline is appropriate.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

You're not doing a whole lot of thinking if you think that the "only way .. to bridge this gap is to either not suspend minority students that deserve to be suspended, or suspend non-minorities that don't deserve to be suspended." How about suspend white students for the same behaviors that students of color are suspended for? How about not allowing well-to-do parents to have more influence in terms of getting their students out of trouble than less well-to-do parents? How about let's not call it "teenage pranks" when white and wealthy students commit certain offenses but call it "dangerous" and "scary" when the same acts are committed by students of color and/or economically disadvantaged students? How about let's be knowledgeable about different cultures so that we are better able to interpret students' behavior? See Chuck Warpehoski's post and link. Establishing a culture of expectations for students is very important but that doesn't address inequities in what is considered an "offense" or in how consequences are meted out. I don't speak for Superintendent Green but I don't see anywhere in her comments that she doesn't want to hold African American children to the same standards. We can all have different opinions and debate is good, but it'd be great to see more informed comments here.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Well, as long as we are being allowed to make statements with no proof, I also KNOW of teachers and assistants being instructed to only give positive rewards (gift cards, small tokens) to minority children. So now who is getting special treatment?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

Who cares what "culture" a kid comes from? Are you suggesting that unacceptable behavior be evaluated based on ethnicity or family background? Rubbish. HItting is hitting. Cursing at teachers is not acceptable, regardless of your "culture" or how often you see it modeled at home. Here are the rules; everyone follow them. When they don't, treat everyone the same. How hard is it?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

Great post. What Dr. Green is asking for is systems where data on suspensions is ACTUALLY collected and to MAKE SURE all students are held to the same standard - because they aren't. No one has said anything about holding minority or other disadvantaged students to a different standard, the point is to make the discipline effective, consistent and fair for all. I also know what you are saying about a double standard where the affluent kids get out of punishments but the minorities don't is VERY true. FInally, if a teacher uses this problem to fail to punish minority students who deserve it (and with evidence provided) is just laziness and ignorance on that part of that teacher to do the right thing - the excuse that they are "afraid" of being called a racist is ludicrous and cowardly.

John of Saline

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

To finish my post, no one was allowed to point out the actual behavior of M. Union guards. It was an unchallengeable "fact" that they only stopped black students, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

John of Saline

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

"How about suspend white students for the same behaviors that students of color are suspended for? How about not allowing well-to-do parents to have more influence in terms of getting their students out of trouble than less well-to-do parents? How about let's not call it "teenage pranks" when white and wealthy students commit certain offenses but call it "dangerous" and "scary" when the same acts are committed by students of color and/or economically disadvantaged students?" Please provide evidence that ANY of that has occurred as you imply? Actual evidence the teachers are racist, not oh-gee-the-numbers-don't-add-up. This isn't some bitter essay for a sociology class; this is real life and making blanket assertions of racist teacher behavior, as you did, isn't going to fly. "How about let's be knowledgeable about different cultures so that we are better able to interpret students' behavior? ..." Please provide evidence that the teachers are not "culturally informed." Again, you insult them as a class with no evidence. And I hope the education you plan to impose on the teachers isn't some variety of the racially-insulting "you just don't understand what (insert aggrieved group here) has to put up with." Don't disrupt class. Don't hit other students. Don't threaten teachers. Don't destroy property. These are simple rules. The idea that there's some complex racial analysis that needs to be done every time an incident occurs is both silly and insulting. Speaking just for myself, I remember constant charges of racism by various University institutions when I was on campus. One particular case stuck out: it was repeatedly said that the student ID checks at the door to the Michigan Union (instituted after a stabbing) were only enforced on black students; whites were waved by. I was always stopped; they were very thorough. (The fact was, they checked everyone's ID.) But try pointing that out: i


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:08 a.m.

Being respectful and responsible provides opportunities; being disrespectful and irresponsible provides consequences. Teaching all to be respectful, responsible and accountable for their actions is what is needed. No more making excuses for misbehavior.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

It's about dang time. Good for her.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

Does Green think she's helping black children by not holding them to the same standards as other children? Because the real world doesn't work that way. All she will do is create students who can't fit in because they weren't disciplined when problems first began. Until we can get all parents to prepare their children equally for school, before kindergarten even begins, we will not have equal learning, we will not have equal discipline rates, and we will continue to waste millions of dollars wringing our hands about it. Sounds like this was a bad hire. Too bad for the children.

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:32 a.m.

white do-good liberal who feels guilty. The likes of her have created an entitlement class


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:30 p.m.

"In 2010-2011, nearly 1,200 students were suspended from the district's middle and high schools. Of those students, 42.2 percent were black and 20.5 percent were classified as "other," a group officials said included many Hispanics. Those numbers compare to 33.9 percent for white students, creating a disparity since 8,627, or 52.3 percent, of the district's 16,509 students last year were white. Black students made up 14.3 percent of the entire student body." Nobody seems to see the connection where 72% of black children are born to unwed mothers? It starts in the home folks. You need a license to drive a car or to carry around a firearm, but anybody can have a kid. I'm not much for government infringement on freedoms, but there is something really wrong here. Can't fix something without getting at the root of the problem. Otherwise this means more slanting of the playing field to favor one so-called disadvantaged race over another so-called privileged race with more programs like affirmative action. Its things like these that keep racism alive and well in the 21st century.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

72% of black children are born to unwed mothers because of liberal entitlement policies that make it easy for these women to do it. Living off the tax dollars of others carries no stigma with them.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

Everybody get s upset about cutting money for schools but after reading this article I am glad we are doing it. Teachers and administrators are not providing a quality education. In the Business world, we would fire the low and non producers but in teaching world we always throw more money at them!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

The problem is that politicians (ie, elected school board members) and principals have allowed politics to influence the policies and day-to-day procedures in schools. I have teachers in the family. The constant among those who teach in public schools is the same story, of having to fight tooth and nail to get a seriously disruptive kid from class because no administrators or board members will face parents, who often are equally disruptive, disrespectful and hostile. Re-election politics should have no place in school discipline matters, and any principal who doesn't have the stones to face parents of kids who consistently cause problems should not have a job.

John of Saline

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

That's a little unfair. Consider this article: teachers are unable to discipline as necessary because they might be labeled "racist" by bosses. That's on top of the general reticence to severe discipline that is the hallmark of our litigious society (parents threatening to sue). So they walk into the classroom basically at the mercy of the students; a few badly-behaved students can mess up the class for everyone, and no one learns.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

Want to close the discipline gap? Get the movie "Lean On Me" and watch Joe Clark in action.

John of Saline

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

The predictable result will be teachers hesitating to discipline students, even for bad misbehavior, for fear of being called "racist." The facts will not matter to the administrators, who have made clear (even after seeing past all the administrative jargon) that they only care about the numbers (the "gap"). Sad. One day, all classrooms will have continuous audio and video recording. Then bad behavior--by students and teachers--will be recorded for posterity in undeniable form. I would have been VERY happy to have that in my substitute-teaching days in order to show parents what their little darlings think is appropriate behavior. Incidents requiring discipline will have an attendant video recording. If the administration wants to play a numbers game THEN, it would be interesting (Administrator: "Why recommend suspension? It couldn't have been so bad." Teacher: "Let's watch the tape, shall we?"). I know a teacher at an Oakland County school that has cameras. I'm told it's amusing to have the kid's parents come in and say something like "How DARE you accuse my kid of stealing! Little Tommy would never do that!" Then, roll tape. "Is that your laptop, Tommy?" Silence. "Why are you taking it out of Jerry's bag, Tommy?" Silence.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

The real problem is the entitlement society we live in. Kids who are constantly told they can do/get whatever they want, parents who blame the teachers yet do not do any proactive parenting or discipline...and most of all, school board members and superintendents who feel entitled to large salaries for perpuating the same nonsense over and over. We don't need to pay consultants or study groups to find out what, deep down, we already know...

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

Isn't there a good school for many these boys up US 23 at M-36, to the west? Room and board, too!!


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

hey truthisfree- have you truly looked at other minorities - or is it only a black-white issue, Have you been to any of the AP classes in A2- it will be an eye opener.

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

Oh, this is so funny. A boy's school to the north was referred to because it exists and I drive by it sometimes. I also see a boys "facility" next to the Washtenaw County Rec Center. The only place for women or girls that I know about was in Plymouth and it was closed. When I was in school, boys caused most of the dicipline problems. It was no secret. Cat fights were rare, still are. When I read abot violent crime, it is usually men. Sure, girls can be bad, too. but the TV show Cops plays the song, "Bad Boy, Bad Boys...what ya going do when they come for you?" Joeseph, lighten up, it was a joke about a facility that might be under used by Ann Arbor youth.. Lets fill it up and let teh rest begin to learn.

average joe

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:20 a.m.

Sally- Read the story again- It never mentions 'boys'..... it only mentions students.

John of Saline

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:17 a.m.

Mike's child had his jaw broken by 5 "difficult kids" who weren't disciplined. That's OK with you?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

Honestly, you are so bitter and resentful of difficult kids. It is hard to read your posts.

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

I don't know where the girls school is located. I was a good girl. Wanna tell me Joe?

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

This ain't a misbehaving problem, it is a racial problem created by the adimistration who worries that punishing bad boys is wrong if their demographics are not equal. They should have equal rules and punishments, not results. Remove those who are disruptiveand others will soon get the message. Deb Mexicotte is senting the wrong message

John of Saline

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

Truthisfree, Mike wasn't complaining about all black students. He was stating, specifically, that the students who attacked his son got light treatment based on race alone. Do you think that's OK or not? As for the "same infraction" issue, we'd need video evidence or something to truly have an idea of that, wouldn't we? Those statistics come from social science studies that are VERY easy to bias, as you're measuring opinions and not objective facts like natural science. Are you saying that any and all discrepancies in discipline MUST be because of discrimination from evil, racist teachers?

average joe

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Sal- They're not all boys....


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

I see why your title is Silly Sally. If you read the article you see that one of the stats they have is that for the same infraction, some groups are punished more severely than others. There are EQUALLY bad parents in every ethnicity so "mun" to say it accounts for the discipline gap is EQUALLY a source of the problem. Any efforts to improve education should be smiled upon. It's a shame so many are taking such pot shots. The superintendent has been here since July and instead of thinking positive, many of you posters are condemning and spewing venom. He that is without sin cast the first stone. I'm willing to bet many that post are not "perfect" parents whose children, if you have them, never get in trouble. For "Mike" the fact that your son was in a fight or jumped on doesn't make the achievement gap less important. It doesn't mean all students of African descent deserve to be thrown in the bucket with the 5 that fought your son. If everyone thought as some of you then people would fear everyone from America because the US imposes it's will on many other countries. Everyone would fear every person of European descent because militia people like Timothy McVeigh looks like them. People, wake up, there is more to these issues than skin color. If you won't wake up, then grow up.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

As I read through this article, all I could think is what a bunch of 'mumbo jumbo.' I'm glad I'm not the only one. I think a healthy dose of common sense would be 1000 times more effective than this 'pipe dream' of an effort. Not only is this a wast of time, money and effort, but it will have the added benefit of making things worse by removing the expectation of personal responsibility.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

But at least it is giving something for Ms. Green to do to earn her keep I guess.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Sorry Patricia, but I seriously doubt AAPS or any other school district can fix bad parenting, the source of the discipline gap.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

Stop focusing on race and start focusing on discipline. It doesn't matter what ethnic background the child has, what does matter is that students behave properly in a classroom setting and are respectful toward other students, teachers and staff in the schools. I would bet that that all parents can agree on what is proper school behavior. When children come to school ill prepared to listen, learn and behave in a respectful manner, they need to be disciplined with real consequences and follow-through, and it does not matter who the child is. As far as the overall discipline issues, I have worked in other districts and in other states, and my opinion is that A2 is lax on discipline for all the students. Once the students know they can get away with using cell phones at will in many of their classes, listening to ipods during class, running and screaming in the halls, hitting each other, being disrespectful to teachers and staff, all without consequences, then the entire environment becomes compromised and everyone is failing to provide a good learning situation. I really don't understand the seeming unwillingness of A2 schools to instill more discipline across the board. A2 also has a high number of students with special needs, many of which are behavior-related. Students also come to A2 from other districts for the special ed services, from as far away as Lincoln, Ypsi and Willow Run. In some cases, their needs cannot be met, either in a regular ed or special ed classroom. Unfortunately, the schools cave in to parental pressure and the students are kept in the district, to the detriment of all students involved. There are better situations such as WISD for severely disabled students, including severe behavior disorders. Until A2 schools start acknowledging that they have a deeper problem with regard to discipline and start actually insisting on a more disciplined environment in many classrooms, nothing will change. It is not a racial issue.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Great post. I would say that the district does need to focus on discipline as well. Being consistent within buildings and between buildings and grade levels is what is needed. Have real, enforced consequences and apply equally. While I don't think a lot of the issues are racial at their core, solving them may involve really understanding ethnic/racial differences. Lets face it, schools have kids about 8 hours a day. Families 16 hours. We can control what happens in our 8 and have very little impact on the other 16. This is an issue I think the schools are reluctant to fully we continue to hammer away at solving the achievement gap while not recognizing so much of that has to with the 16 hours we don't have access to.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

If all kids that need discipline are treated the same and action is being taken equally (as it should be), then the issue is not "who is being treated unfairly", it is the fact that there is a disproportionate number of individuals misbehaving within a specific group. The causes of this disproporationate number can be varied. But is this really an issue that needs to be resolved by the school system or is this a community issue? Schools exist to educate children. Teachers try to help kids that are having problems and talk with their parents. Sometimes the parent is never at home. Sometimes there are issues that the teacher cannot mitigate. Sometimes the kid is just that way. Teachers need to stay focused on the education process. Parents need to be part of that process.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

In the immortal words of the Ghost: do you have facts that back up this statement? Or is this anecdotal?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

The action is NOT being taken equally.

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Oh my, another racist andimistrator for the AA Public Schools, who sees everything in terms of race and wants to give a free pass to those who are bad based upon skin color.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

The two comments by "Mike" are right on.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

They are always going to see a high number of suspensions in middle school and high school because if they haven't nipped the behavior problems in elementary school, they are not going to be magically fixed the summer before middle school starts. I think it takes a lot to suspend a grade school child, and by suspension, I mean at home, not in the office playing games.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

Not hard to get suspended in elementary school! Just have a 1st grader draw a picture of a gun.

Harry B

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

It begins and ends at home. A school can not change a childs behavior. Only a mother and Father can. And both are necessary. When I was young, I was never afraid what the school was going to do to me as far as punishment. Write sentences/ bang erasers after school? Who cares. My Dad is what I was afraid of.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

Frankly, I don't care what they do at home during their suspension. But hanging out in the office all day, playing games, chit chatting with any teacher/child that walks by makes a mockery of school discipline and certainly doesn't encourage the parent to try to deal with THEIR child.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

At home playing games?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Superintendent Patricia Green has been noticeably quiet since July. This is the best she can come up with? Another quota?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

The golden ticket on her resume were the words "achievement gap". I'm sure the board was tripping over themselves to hire her no matter the price.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

Some more feel good attempts at closing the gap. It all boils down to fixing the family structure. We live in a society where we do what feels good, drugs are OK, sex and having babies out of wedlock (kids having kids) is OK, bad teachers are tolerated and accepted/protected by bad unions. These kids then go on to have more kids of their own, perpetuating the problem. No good role models teaching them a work ethic, many times no parents at home. They move into the welfare lifestyle and raise their kids to do the same. Single or no parent kids raising themselves....very sad. "The 2010-2011 data also shows that an average of about 35 percent of suspended students have special needs and an average of about 58 percent are economically disadvantaged." - so is the answer to give them money, a free pass, or what? They need mentors and parents teaching them and setting examples for them. They are given breaks when it comes to discipline. I have personal experience where my son was beaten by a gang of over five black students, had his jaw broken, and I was told they weren't going to be removed from the school because it was their only chance to graduate. I don't want to hear any more lip service about bullying or disproportionate punishment for the disadvantaged. That's why the schools are a mess. Open up some military style schools and teach some discipline and build in some structure to their lives and send the trouble makers there; white or black or whatever. Get them out of the main stream so the rest of the kids can learn and fluorish, obviously the current system isn't working. The PC answer is always the usual one of studying the problem to death when common sense tells you what to do. A good drill sargeant could fix the problem...........


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 6:59 a.m.

You really think no male in the household translates to no discipline? Some women are far better disciplinarians than men. It would be great for children born to single mothers to have strong male role models. Sometimes those can be found outside of the home. However, with or without that male, there is always a chance to raise children into strong, disciplined, moral, contributing adults.

Harry B

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

It is very difficult for them when 72% of all black children are born to single mothers. When you have ndiscipline at home you surely wont have it in public. I am not making excuses and I do agree with your military idea. You have to understand no male figure in there lives makes it very difficult in the real world. They really have no chance.

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

Oh, but they were good boys, who needed yet another break


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Ah, AAPS administrators. Where the goal isn't success, but merely the perception of movement....


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Another race to find the lowest common denominator.... More Charter Schools........where students want to learn and parents support the process.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

&quot;More Charter Schools........where students want to learn and parents support the process&quot; Like Eastern Washtenaw Multicultural Academy? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5 p.m.

Forever, how is that any worse than what is happening now in the public schools, where well-behaving, bright students are being sacrificed because teachers must deal with mentally ill students who don't belong there, kids with serious behavior problems who don't belong there, and kids who simply choose to misbehave? What about the kids who come to school to learn? Why should they be sacrificed because school districts decided years ago to save money (mostly for adminstrator salaries) by &quot;mainstreaming&quot; all kids into the traditional classroom?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

charter schools will do nothing but further damage the students who are &quot;left behind&quot; at the &quot;failing&quot; school. Education is not a competition between students to get the most access to the knowledge. It is &quot;The Great Equalizer&quot; and the premise to our entire political system. We must be willing to educate ALL students. You cannot sacrifice some for the benefit of others, and that is exactly what charter schools do.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

Minority parents are involved, they just don't hire lawyers to threaten legal action against the school administration.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

And that's going to help how? Charter schools are not the answer! Parent involvement is. How do you get the minorities parents involved on a grander scale?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

The only way I see to bridge this gap is to either not suspend minority students that deserve to be suspended, or suspend non-minorities that don't deserve to be suspended. Which do you all feel is the better way to go?

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

Wow, did it occur to you that non-minority students deserve to be suspended but someone intervenes and gets it reduced? If they routinely reduce suspensions and give warnings to white students, they should do the same for everyone else. That is the better way.

larry kramer

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

&quot;The problems in our schools are primarily related to unruly, undisciplined children and bad parents, a subculture that denigrates education. All the money in the world isn't going to change a thing.&quot; BJ, NY

sojourner truth

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Expectations! Expectations!! We will never have a good learning environment for ALL students until ALL mentally healthy students (and their parents) buy into the expectation that the students have to be responsible members of a learning community. The blame always seems to be put on the system, or the teachers, or the parents. The individual also has to be responsible for his behavior and learning. If this idea is a pipedream, it's because we have allowed people to blame others for their learning and discipline problems. I agree with the four reasons that the superintendent gave for discipline problems, and it's good to understand them, but ultimately the individual has to take on the responsibility for his own behavior and learning. Otherwise our schools will fall further behind and more kids will be drop outs.

Top Cat

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

All these overpaid public education administrators just love all these &quot;gaps&quot; as it give them something to justify their existence. No wonder that parents are demanding more choices for their childrens' education.

Chuck Warpehoski

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

I'm grateful to see this initiative. There are many studies that show that black students tend to get more severe punishments than white students for the same infractions. Here's one example: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Let's hold Ann Arbor Public Schools to high standards for creating an educational environment that works for all students.

Harry B

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

If minorities are treated differently then you suspend/fire the person doing the punishment. You dont try to bridge any gap. In Canton/Plymouth punishment is not decided on by one person. It is a group of people. You have less of a chance of racism happening in groups.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

The article does not containing allegations of disparate punishments for identical offenses. It only discusses disparate rates of punishment divided by various categories. The appropriate investigation at this point would be to see if there are disparate punishments for identical offenses, not to simply declare the disparity of instances of punishment among different groups will end.

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

It can work for all students when all students have the same behavior.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Hopefully the new superintendent will be held as accountable as her students. We will see


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

I'm curious to see what this looks like in practice. In the past it has been a top down directive to not kick kids out of class and school which results in *no consequences* for kids that shove teachers, bully peers, and engage in a host of other inappropriate behavior that they then get away with. Creating a culture of respect is one thing, and it should be a priority. Cutting down on kids getting kicked out of class is not necessarily the same.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

I also was hearing that certain groups can't be kicked out anymore regardless of offense. I will leave that up for your interpretation.