Student Discipline Fight Underway


( – In response to growing concerns about student behavior and teaching conditions, several states are enacting laws to address student discipline in schools. A notable example is a new law in Kentucky, which has introduced more stringent disciplinary measures for students.

The law allows for student suspension for offenses such as profanity, disobedience or defiance towards school authority, defacing school property, and substance abuse. Additionally, it mandates a year-long expulsion for students making violent threats or bringing weapons to school.

While the Kentucky law received widespread bipartisan support, Louisville Metro Council’s Kumar Rashad claimed disproportionate impacts on students of color and potential increases in crime.

“When we talk about expelling the student for a whole year, that’s going to send these students out on the street. You want crime to go up? Let’s do that,” he stated.

Rashad, a former teacher focused on developing Black historical consciousness, has also advocated within the National Education Association against anti-critical race theory rhetoric.

Showcasing leftwing bias, Thalia González, co-director of the University of California Law San Francisco’s Center for Racial and Economic Justice, similarly attributed such disciplinary laws to conservative influences, commenting, “We are in a period of retrenchment in this country.”

González’s 2019 study asserted the negative impacts of punitive disciplinary measures on educational opportunities and their potential to exacerbate social and economic disparities.

State Representative Steve Rawlings (R-KY) argued for a tougher approach, citing safety concerns and difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers post-pandemic. He highlighted that the new law involves a process with parental and principal involvement to address disruptive behavior.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear echoed these sentiments, signing the bill due to safety concerns amidst alarming incidents nationwide.

Similar motivations led to legislative changes in West Virginia, as stated by Republican state Representative Marty Gearheart. With teachers and school officials pushing for action against disruptive behavior, the need for a more disciplined classroom environment has become increasingly evident.

This trend reflects a broader concern among educators. The American Federation of Teachers reported that almost 90% of teachers view poor student discipline as a serious issue and 75% noted a decline in teaching conditions over the past five years.