“He knows when you’ve been sleeping.
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
So be good for what?
Think about that.
Being good. For goodness sake.
(Preach sistah speak.)
Fed-Ex, UPS, they can ship the package.
But waaaaaaiiiiiitttt a minute.
I know a man with a different type of guaranteed overnight delivery.
He’s got his own overnight express.
Forget Airborne Express
I’ll take the reindeer express.
‘Cause it’s free shipping on Christmas Eve.
Somebody say ho, ho, ho.
This is an excerpt from Praise Santa!!!, a dream sequence sermon by Jazmine Dubois who is a character from Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks cartoon. The episode is called A Huey Freeman Christmas and Jazmine is being extra good at school and home in hopes to get everything she wants for Christmas. I think about how Jazmine is a lot like my students at school and how parents partner with me around this season with school discipline. Here’s my issue.
I struggle a lot when meeting with parents this time of the year. I always have. I cringe in meetings when parents tell their children from pre-k to 12, “If you keep acting up in school you won’t have a Christmas.” or “Don’t worry about it Ms. Jones, his Christmas is gone.” or my favorite one “I showed her all of her presents and each time I get a call from y’all, I take one away.” Then we call again in a couple of days and poof, a present is taken from under the tree. I wonder how many presents did that parent buy? And where do the presents of no return go? Hmmmm….
Here’s what I need help with fam—parents and educators alike. Does this type of discipline really work with children and teens? I do notice an increase of goodness for goodness sake in schools from Thanksgiving to Christmas break, but our at-risk students continue to need to most support. I ponder; will any of those students have any presents to open at 3:00 AM on the 25th?
The big question for parents, what happens on the 26th? Does all hell break loose in your homes? Or are young folks still on a natural high from all their Atari systems, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em’s, Sit-n-Spins and Magnetic Wheel Spinners? A bigger question, what happens when students return to schools in January? Will it be the coldest winter ever for educators?
Here’s the real deal, folks. Typically, parents will tell us that they are taking away their children’s presents at Christmas when they feel they don’t have a voice in school-based discipline practices. This is one way parents assure us as educators that they have our backs when we use corrective measures with their children. This is cool, but we must change that narrative. Immediately. Schools function more efficiently and effectively when parents are our partners. The need for this partnership is even greater when schools are executing discipline practices.
Parents, families and communities must be involved in the creation and assessment of school-based discipline policies. Parent involvement has always been a cornerstone of successful schools. However, it is essential that the role of families is not purely a support role, but one of empowerment and voice in decisions.
Parents and teachers must find new ways to have clear and consistent communication about behavior outside of the usual means (e.g. back to school night, report card conferences, etc.). As our technology improves, we need a host of strategies that keep parents involved in their students’ progress. With more frequent, proactive communication, behaviors can be identified and addressed to minimize significant risks.
Removing barriers to student learning is what the culture and climate world are all about in schools. The key is empowering parents to have a huge influence in creating, reviewing and supporting the execution of discipline policies and data. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we don’t do this enough. Well…enough is enough.
Let’s talk next steps for our return in January to increase parent involvement in school discipline.
- Administrators and teacher-leaders—review your current school discipline policies with a fine-toothed comb and determine what’s working and not working.
- Use your data—phone calls home, in school suspensions, out of school suspensions, parent meetings, expulsions, etc.
- Disaggregate the data—gender, age, race, socioeconomic breakdown, etc.
- Create a plan to increase positive parent engagement—positive phone calls home, home visits, parent nights, parent discipline committee, etc.
- Meet with a variety of parents (involved, at-risk students’ and dissatisfied parents) to be transparent about discipline statistics, both warm and cool, from 1st semester.
- Give data, rationale, and results.
- Get feedback from parents.
- Ask parents to help with creating and improving methodology.
- Create a time-line for executing updates.
- Create a parent and school culture and climate committee.
- This will be an oversight committee.
- Meet once a month/quarter to review data, receive feedback update enhancements.
The hope is that through this improved transparency from schools, parents will be empowered to be more involved in school discipline policies and procedures. Now, this may not prevent Hakeem from being hit upside the head with a brand new race car track piece in January. However, it is a step in the right direction in destroying the school-to-prison pipeline. Parents as empowered partners are key to student success in all areas and this is our ultimate goal.
Now can I get a ho, ho, ho? Praise Santa…
Ashe and one love…