One of the schools that I work with is a Discipline Alternative Education Program (the expulsion campus) in a large urban district. The changes this year have been nothing short of miraculous. Attendance is up over 10%, recidivism has decreased dramatically, and students are completing the program in less than half the time it took last year. Almost everyone is happy. Except for a vocal group of bitter teachers at the regular campuses. Their complaints center around three themes: students come back to soon; kids aren’t punished enough in the program; and the quality of academic work is sub-par. I’m going to address all three.
The first complaint is that the students return to the home campus too soon. And by too soon, they mean that they were not removed from the classroom for enough calendar days. The problem with this complaint is that it is based on a need for revenge. You irritated me in some way so now you must pay a price, until I am satisfied. Unfortunately, for the adults who demand revenge, this DAEP program is based on providing just enough intervention to prepare the student to be successful back at the regular campus. Once that criteria is met, they are returned. My advice to teachers with a need for retribution and revenge is to keep their problem students in their classroom where they can punish students to their heart’s content.
The second complaint is that students are not punished enough. Actually, the students are not punished at all. Punishment is counter-productive. The purpose of the RISE DAEP is to change behaviors, not remove behaviors. Punishment can lead to the absence to negative behaviors, but only while the threat of punishment is maintained. However, coaching and rewards do lead to the increased use of positive behaviors, even after the promise of extrinsic rewards is stopped. If the threat and use of punishment was truly effective with DAEP students, then they never would have committed the offense that caused their placement in the first place.
The final complaint is that the quality of academic work is sub-par. To which the response is, “yes, how could it not be?” To purpose of the DAEP is to take the students who are disrupting the educational process in regular classrooms and remediate their behavior so they can successfully transition back into the regular classroom. If this task could be accomplished along with providing the same level of instruction as the regular teacher, then why keep the regular teacher? The day that any DAEP can match the quality of instruction of the regular classroom is the day that you can start making a list of replaceable staff.
Think. Work. Achieve.