Today’s News: School Board could curb suspensions

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Dealing with defiance. The L.A. Board of Education is due to vote tomorrow on a landmark resolution that would ban suspensions for what’s called “willful defiance.” The move comes amid a growing belief in some quarters that suspending students for disruptive behavior is counterproductive.

“Willful defiance” can involve anything from cursing at a teacher to incessant talking or failing to wear a school uniform. The catchall category is used to justify nearly half of the suspensions that are handed out by California public school administrators, according to the L.A. Times.

Now School Board Member Monica Garcia is pushing a resolution that would make LAUSD the first district in the state to ban suspensions for “willful defiance.” Garcia and her supporters cite research suggesting that removing kids from the classroom doesn’t make them behave better – but it does make them more likely to drop out of school and get in trouble with the law. They also point to data showing that African-American students are three times as likely as their white counterparts to be suspended in California.

Instead of suspensions, the new policy uses positive incentives and other methods to reign in bad behavior.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy supports the resolution. He says “willful defiance” has become a way to get rid of students who are not achieving. But not all educators agree. Opponents of the resolution say the threat of being removed from school is the best tool they have to control behavior that disrupts other students’ learning. L.A. Times

Young immigrants. Illegal immigration by undocumented adults is on the decline, but the U.S. Border Patrol says that the number of undocumented and unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border has tripled since 2008. In 2012 the Border Patrol apprehended nearly 25,000 unaccompanied children, mostly teenagers. McClatchy

California budget. We’re going to get an updated look at the state’s budget picture tomorrow when Governor Jerry Brown rolls out his revised spending proposal. The budget plan comes with the state’s finances as strong as they’ve been in years, and revenues running well above predicted levels. San Jose Mercury News

School Board race.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s political action committee has spent nearly $1 million to help elect School Board candidate Antonio Sanchez to an open seat in the San Fernando Valley. That’s far more than either Sanchez or his opponent, Monica Ratliff, has received in direct donations. L.A. Times

High heat. One more day…That’s how long the National Weather Service says the Southland will have to contend with an oppressive heat wave. New records for high temperatures were set in several Southland communities yesterday, and more could be set today. KCBS

Apocalypse radio. The end may be near for an evangelical radio network used by a preacher to predict the apocalypse. Oakland-based Family Radio has sold its three largest radio stations and let go of much of its staff. The group’s donations have plummeted since Camping’ incorrectly predicted the end of the world last year. Contra Costa Times