Positive School Discipline Works

Early Childhood Education, Legislation, Parent & Family Engagement | 03/22/2018

Takkara Delaney
Stand for Children Indiana Volunteer

Takkara Delaney Testimony on HB 1421 House Education Committee January 29, 2018 10:30 A.M.

My name is Takkara Delaney and as a mother of three beautiful boys, and I believe in positive school discipline to improve student behavior.

It is based on sound evidence that will reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions that I believe are detrimental to the students of Indiana, as well as the communities we live in.

As a mother, my children—and I believe all children—need positive discipline to correct their misbehavior, and positive reinforcement when they do the right thing. Too often, I have seen school children who have acted out get suspended as a first course of action in our school system.

But actions like this only serve to put a child farther behind. These kids miss instruction time, are alienated from their peers and sometimes unclear on the exact reason and purpose for their suspension.

Positive discipline keeps them in school and doesn’t “reward” them with a day or two to stay home and play X-Box. It makes them do the work of focusing on correcting their behavior, and it reinforces correct behavior and what is expected of them in the classroom.

For too long, suspensions have served as a one-size-fits-all solution. Some children who feel like they were wrongfully suspended shut down because they feel like they’ve been done wrong. And we can’t ignore those feelings—even if they’re mistaken.

We’re dealing with children. Children who might have problems at home or feel threatened or who have raging hormones.

Positive discipline addresses those issues. It addresses a child who believes no one is listening to them. It shows that their school and teachers and administrators care and won’t just kick them out the door, but help them fix their problem.

But addressing and supporting positive discipline isn’t just about getting kids on the right track. It’s about boosting our economy and investing our tax dollars wisely.

According to a 2016 study, for every dollar invested in schoolwide positive behavior to reduce suspensions and expulsions and dropout rates, we save $104 dollars on the back end. That’s the money we save from keeping another young person off unemployment and social services, out of the court system or in corrections.

Suspensions in 10th grade alone resulted in more than six hundred and sixty-seven thousand dropouts that cost our country $35 billion in social costs, according to the same study. Black students make up 13 percent of all 10th graders but represent 25 percent of those suspended students, which accounts for $9 billion of those social costs.

If we continue to keep our head in the sand and not look to new solutions like positive discipline, we’re bound to see the same results year after year.

Troubled children grow into troubled teenagers, and troubled teenagers grow in to troubled adults if we don’t attend to their needs and their problems, and provide them with the tools they need to function in society.

If we don’t, we’re setting them up for failure, and they will find a way to live by whatever means necessary. And that brings crime, drugs, homelessness and devastation to so many of our communities.

Our kids are the future doctors, teachers, scientists, carpenters, farmers and innovators, and we need to do our best to teach every one of them to stay on track—even when they make a mistake.

By investing one dollar in our children and their educational welfare now, we can save more than a hundred dollars in negative outcomes later.

I believe that’s a sound investment and one that all Americans and Hoosiers would be glad to make.

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