(Photo/mgaleg.maryland.gov/)

By J. J. McQueen,
Special to the AFRO

As the state of Maryland works to improve its approach to bettering the education system, new measures of accountability are being proposed. House Bill 0023 is being used as tool that could possibly address steps on how Maryland schools implement actions for correcting their student’s behavior.  

The bill would require the State Department of Education to separate certain discipline related data in the form of an electronic spreadsheet, which could be found on the Department’s website. The data would be available for the public along with other discipline related information to be submitted by August 1 of each year. The new legislation is suggested to require the Department to maintain a certain risk ratio used to identify a school’s disproportional disciplinary practices, and report other unbalanced data for high suspending schools. 

What does this mean?

Every Maryland school would be required to be transparent in how many kids are disciplined during the school year, and for what reasons. This transparency also calls into question how does this data impact lower performing schools, and will the information positively or negatively impact funding needed to address the needs of those schools. 

In section a-1 of the bill, it suggests that the approach for disciplinary actions will be “restorative”, meaning that the correction of a student will be based on relationships building from a qualified staff member. The new modified proactive approach to discipline is one that bill repeatedly mentions as a projected formula for success. 

What the bill doesn’t layout is, are what support mechanisms will be offered for schools with high suspension rates, and how high suspension numbers could negatively impact the salaries of the school’s leadership. 

With each school district governing their own areas, the proposed legislation has the potential to be a misleading item depending on the needs of each school’s data reports. 

In posting such sensitive information, the good intentions of the bill could also make school leadership easy targets for unnecessary heckling from those that may not know, or understand the variables and make-up of the communities surrounding each school. 

For more information on the HB0023 and its status, click here.

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