With her sparkling black shoes, glowing face, and confident persona, Isabel shone like she did during her time at the SED Center. Today, Isabel Argueta, and her grandmother, Leonarda, visited the SED Center after graduating 4 years ago. Mrs. Sánchez DeGalvez embraced her while every teacher that walked by hugged her, with a big smile on their faces, and asked how she was doing in school. Meanwhile, her grandmother stood proudly looking down at Isabel—one could see the love and care reflected off of Leonarda’s eyes. It is no surprise that Isabel, heading to the 3rd grade, positions herself at the very top of her class. Her excellent grades turned into countless honor roll medals and have given her the confidence to achieve her dream of one day becoming a doctor. Isabel, however, does not just enjoy science. When asked what she liked most about her school, Meridian Public Charter, she said, “Math, but honestly, everything. I enjoy every class.” Her expertise also extends beyond the classroom: Picked from her class, she sang Seasons of Love by Rent at a recent school performance. Leonarda, her grandmother, also spoke highly of Isabel’s love for El Salvador and its beaches. She lightheartedly joked that Isabel tells them constantly not to forget to take her when they go to El Salvador. With gratitude, she thanked the SED Center “... for the 5 years Isabel attended SED and for the nurturing care that SED has given to over 4 generations of her family that graduated from the SED Center”. At SED, we cannot help but feel proud and delighted of Isabel’s many accomplishments. Most notably, we look up to Isabel for her determination and perseverance at such an early age, and hope that her journey lands her among the stars.
The Washington Post article, “D.C. bill would ban school suspensions for city’s pre-K students,” speaks of a topic worth addressing: discipline in the District’s public schools. For many years, school officials have disregarded how suspensions affect the District’s students. According to the Washington Post, “The city discipline report, from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, found that 10,000 of the District’s 80,000 students were suspended at least once during the 2012-2013 school year.” At first glance, this statistic can represent that schools effectively deal with those students that disrupt classrooms; however, this is not the case. The 10,000 students suspended give rise to bigger concerns than just their disciplinary misdoings. It is not about ‘what’ these students did but rather ‘who’ they are. According to the recent city discipline report, “Black students in the District were almost six times as likely to be suspended or expelled as white students.” In a personal account mentioned in the Washington Post article, the student speaks of how unmotivated many of these students become after sometimes unfairly receiving their suspension notices. They opt, at times, to instead drop out of school, and further in life, many enter the judicial system: “Across the country, poor and minority students are far more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white and affluent peers, and there are clear links between those disciplinary events and increased chances of dropping out and entering the judicial system.”
Consequently, due to the negative effects of the current disciplinary system in the District, a new bill has been proposed that would “require all schools to provide OSSE with an annual report detailing which students were suspended, along with the length of and reason for each suspension.” This would allow for a more detailed account of the causes and effects of suspensions in the DC Public School system. Most importantly, the bill would remove suspension for 3- and 4-year-olds given that they “aren’t able to fully connect their misbehavior with the punishment, and that children are often disciplined for behavior that is developmentally appropriate for their age.” Opponents of this change argue many children should be sent home given they distract other students from learning. On the other hand, others groups, and nonprofits like Critical Exposure, propose alternative measures to suspension such as “... restorative justice programs that encourage students to talk through incidents with one another and to find meaningful ways to atone for their wrongdoings.” What both sides can agree on is that changes in disciplinary measures need to be addressed in order to prevent D.C. Public schools from losing a bright, driven, and capable generation of D.C. students.
Juan Sebastian Roa
Head of Communications and Marketing