I am seeing right-wing headlines spinning the news that Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 419 into State Law as "California Bans Suspensions in Schools". Here's some examples if you don't believe me:
Andrew Pollack's article for the National Review titled "California’s Ban on School Suspensions Invites Another Parkland"
The state of California has just lurched far harder on leniency than Broward, by banning suspensions and expulsions for nonviolent offenses.
He argues that the likely reason why the Parkland mass shooting that happened, which tragically took his daughter's life, was the logical conclusion of progressive policies in the Broward Country school district's attempts to reduce the "school-to-prison pipeline" effect. He cites an article that says Nikolas Cruz was suspended 67 days before expulsion (which sends you to another school) but doesn't list any of the reasons why he was suspended. Pollack completely fails to mention all of the reported factors in Cruz's obviously messed up mind that likely could have been contributing factors:
He was on psychiatric medication from a young age for his mental health issues. Psychiatric meds in children have never been tested on them, and only recently are being used more cautiously after the European psychiatric community's consensus has adopted a "less is more" approach, and influenced North American psychiatrists with their superior results.
His father had passed away when he was a baby and his mother passed away 3 1/2 months before he committed the mass shooting. Trauma can increase the likelihood of psychotic episodes and outlandish impulsive dangerous behavior in even neuro-typically aligned people.
Many people with Bi-Polar are misdiagnosed as having autism or depression at a young age. He seemed to be diagnosed with either one of these. Many of the medications for depression can increase the frequency and intensity of cycling (the big swings in mood states for people with Bi-Polar Disorder). They can lead to an increase in extreme manic episodes, they can lead to hallucinations, etc... Part of the method of diagnosing Bi-Polar after a likely misdiagnosis is asking the patient and ones close to them how they changed after taking certain anti-depressants, if they did.
Cruz reportedly had a bunch of weapons and had told his classmates that he shot small animals with them frequently. Antisocial Personality Disorder (formally known as a sociopathy and/or psychopathy) has this as one of the diagnosis criteria, "ignoring the rights and feelings of others" which manifests itself as cruelty to animals sometimes. He had also peeked in a female neighbor's window and lied to them about why he did it in his late teens. He likely matches the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder (another condition that can easily be misdiagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder)
- Cruz had access to a lot of different weapons, firearms, etc... He frequently hunted and was steeped in the online hunting culture. When he was a minor.
I could go on, but the reality of the situation is, Andrew Pollack is cherry-picking the reasons that ideologically suit his worldview and not using a multi-variate approach to all the factors that could have contributed to the tragedy and then coming to his conclusion. Additionally, the school did suspend him multiple times, and expelled him. Did he want the kid locked up for being expelled? I'm not sure what his alternative solution he's proposing is. Either way, it's basically a non-sequitur to criticize an instance of one type of offense no longer being suspension/expulsion-worthy by showing a mass shooter who was... suspended and expelled and was able to do bad things anyways. His argument doesn't follow.
What's her background? According to her LinkedIn, she's a Rehnquist fellow at the law firm Cooper and Kirk, PLLC, the same that aided Jeff Sessions' defense in the Mueller Russia probe, and fought against Same-Sex Marriage by defending Proposition 8 with significant resources. She's also been a Publius Fellow at The Claremont Institute, a right-wing think-tank that publishes Republican Party talking points. The Washington Examiner says she was a High School teacher in Chicago, but fails to elaborate that she only worked there for under two years, and it was a Private Catholic School, which often have much lower standards for teachers' education credentials than the public school system.
In journalism it seems she has taken a recent turn ideologically. She currently writes right-wing opinion-pieces against any public school administration policies that don't jive with her right-wing worldview, mostly for the Washington Examiner for the past couple years. This was after less than a year of soft-pedaling racism and far-right extremism in a positive light at The Hill (a centrist outlet). Here's how she lovingly portrays Ann Coulter's racist remarks:
Coulter, though, expressed frustration that the book has not received more attention from what conservatives see as the mainstream media.
“I can’t get an interview on ABC, NBC or CBS,” she stated.
Coulter was interviewed by Fusion TV's Jorge Ramos, leading her to quip, “I finally got a Mexican to do a job an American wouldn’t do!”
Anyway, in the deceptive article I've linked to in the title of this section, she writes:
Next school year, it will be illegal for both public and charter schools in California to suspend disruptive students, from kindergarten to 8th grade. In a sweeping act of government overreach, the California state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom have decided that they know better than teachers and school administrators. ... “California’s union-controlled legislature and governor just told students across the state there are no consequences for unruly behavior and have handed control of the classroom over to the most disruptive students. Teachers who simply want to teach and students who truly want to learn are held hostage by their new overlords — willfully defiant kids,” public school teacher of 28 years and founder of For Kids & Country Rebecca Friedrichs said of the law. ... Since these schools are free to create their own disciplinary policies, the new law effectively overwrites the language of 1,300 charter petitions. This would cause significant disruption at the local level, according to the Charter School Development Center.
Let's ignore the hilarious assertion that the government regulating the practices of organizations that are public or public-private partnerships receiving public funding is "overreach" 🙄... But Hardiman makes a crucial error here despite that. She has a law degree and she's obviously intelligent, so this is surprising. "Disruptive" students is not a justification for suspension that is being banned. That's not a justification at all. "Willful defiance" is what is no longer a permissible justification for suspending or expelling students from school.
What is the colloquial usage of "disruptive"? Merriam-Webster says, "disrupting or tending to disrupt some process, activity, condition, etc. : causing or tending to cause disruption" is the definition. Alternately, the California Senate Bill 419 which Gavin Newsom just signed into law defines "willful defiance" as, "disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of those school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties." The "willful defiance" you hear is different from a legal definition of "willful defiance" for school administrations to use as a guideline.
Now this is significant because defying the valid authority of those school personnel is a key component in the reasoning for banning "willful defiance" suspensions and expulsions. The definition most people would think of when they hear the word disruptive isn't based on "defying the valid authority" of anyone. I guess she got that kind of skill out of law school. 😏 (meaning playing deceptive word-games to win, regardless of the truth, a great skill for any lawyer to have)
Also, Rebecca Friedrichs is her sole authority and the supposed voice of the majority of teachers on this issue. Who is Rebecca Friedrichs? She's a former an author of an obscure anti-Teacher's Union book after she gained popularity among the right-wing for waging a pointless war on labor laws for public school teachers because they required her to pay union dues when she didn't wanna. 😢
What is Kate Hardiman's relationship to Rebecca Friedrichs that makes her trust her so much? Well she's written a lot of articles (propaganda) using her as a source for all kinds of education-related fear-mongering articles in the past year or so:
It seems like Kate Hardiman relies solely on Rebecca Friedrichs to give us the "pulse" of public and charter school teachers, all their opinions, and what ought to be done. She relies solely upon an opportunistic right-wing teacher who thinks she shouldn't have to pay union dues despite benefiting every day from things the union has given her. This seems very limited to rely only on her.
What does the bill actually say?
Does it really ban suspensions/expulsions completely? Does it ban suspensions/expulsions for disruptive or dangerous students? Nope. You can read it for yourself.
Existing law prohibits a pupil from being suspended from school or recommended for expulsion, unless the superintendent of the school district or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed a specified act, including, among other acts, disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.
Existing law prohibits the suspension of a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 3, inclusive, and recommending the expulsion of a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of those school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.
This bill, commencing July 1, 2020, would apply those provisions to charter schools. Commencing July 1, 2020, the bill would additionally prohibit the suspension of a pupil enrolled in a school district or charter school in grades 4 and 5 for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of those school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. The bill, from July 1, 2020, until July 1, 2025, would prohibit the suspension of a pupil enrolled in a school district or charter school in any of grades 6 to 8, inclusive, for those acts.
Okay that's what the bill does. What is still permissible to suspend/expel for? This is exhaustively explained, and it comes out to about 18 different things, down from 19 (willful defiance) before:
SEC. 2. Section 48900 of the Education Code is amended to read:
- A pupil shall not be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion, unless the superintendent of the school district or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed an act as defined pursuant to any of subdivisions (a) to (r), inclusive:
(a) (1) Caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause physical injury to another person.
(2) Willfully used force or violence upon the person of another, except in self-defense.
(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal or the designee of the principal.
(c) Unlawfully possessed, used, sold, or otherwise furnished, or been under the influence of, a controlled substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, an alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind.
(d) Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell a controlled substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, an alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind, and either sold, delivered, or otherwise furnished to a person another liquid, substance, or material and represented the liquid, substance, or material as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.
(e) Committed or attempted to commit robbery or extortion.
(f) Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property or private property.
(g) Stole or attempted to steal school property or private property.
(h) Possessed or used tobacco, or products containing tobacco or nicotine products, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, clove cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew packets, and betel. However, this section does not prohibit the use or possession by a pupil of the pupil’s own prescription products.
(i) Committed an obscene act or engaged in habitual profanity or vulgarity.
(j) Unlawfully possessed or unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell drug paraphernalia, as defined in Section 11014.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(k) (1) Disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.
(2) Except as provided in Section 48910, a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 3, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts enumerated in paragraph (1), and those acts shall not constitute grounds for a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, to be recommended for expulsion. This paragraph is inoperative on July 1, 2020.
(3) Except as provided in Section 48910, commencing July 1, 2020, a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 5, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts specified in paragraph (1), and those acts shall not constitute grounds for a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, to be recommended for expulsion.
(4) Except as provided in Section 48910, commencing July 1, 2020, a pupil enrolled in any of grades 6 to 8, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts specified in paragraph (1). This paragraph is inoperative on July 1, 2025.
(l) Knowingly received stolen school property or private property.
(m) Possessed an imitation firearm. As used in this section, “imitation firearm” means a replica of a firearm that is so substantially similar in physical properties to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the replica is a firearm.
(n) Committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault as defined in Section 261, 266c, 286, 287, 288, or 289 of, or former Section 288a of, the Penal Code or committed a sexual battery as defined in Section 243.4 of the Penal Code.
(o) Harassed, threatened, or intimidated a pupil who is a complaining witness or a witness in a school disciplinary proceeding for purposes of either preventing that pupil from being a witness or retaliating against that pupil for being a witness, or both.
(p) Unlawfully offered, arranged to sell, negotiated to sell, or sold the prescription drug Soma.
(q) Engaged in, or attempted to engage in, hazing. For purposes of this subdivision, “hazing” means a method of initiation or preinitiation into a pupil organization or body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, that is likely to cause serious bodily injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or prospective pupil. For purposes of this subdivision, “hazing” does not include athletic events or school-sanctioned events.
(r) Engaged in an act of bullying. For purposes of this subdivision, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Bullying” means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4, directed toward one or more pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:
(A) Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil’s or those pupils’ person or property.
(B) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on the pupil’s physical or mental health.
(C) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with the pupil’s academic performance.
(D) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with the pupil’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
(2) (A) “Electronic act” means the creation or transmission originated on or off the schoolsite, by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager, of a communication, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
(i) A message, text, sound, video, or image.
(ii) A post on a social network internet website, including, but not limited to:
(I) Posting to or creating a burn page. “Burn page” means an internet website created for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1).
(II) Creating a credible impersonation of another actual pupil for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). “Credible impersonation” means to knowingly and without consent impersonate a pupil for the purpose of bullying the pupil and such that another pupil would reasonably believe, or has reasonably believed, that the pupil was or is the pupil who was impersonated.
(III) Creating a false profile for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). “False profile” means a profile of a fictitious pupil or a profile using the likeness or attributes of an actual pupil other than the pupil who created the false profile.
(iii) (I) An act of cyber sexual bullying.
(II) For purposes of this clause, “cyber sexual bullying” means the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording by a pupil to another pupil or to school personnel by means of an electronic act that has or can be reasonably predicted to have one or more of the effects described in subparagraphs (A) to (D), inclusive, of paragraph (1). A photograph or other visual recording, as described in this subclause, shall include the depiction of a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photograph or other visual recording of a minor where the minor is identifiable from the photograph, visual recording, or other electronic act.
(III) For purposes of this clause, “cyber sexual bullying” does not include a depiction, portrayal, or image that has any serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value or that involves athletic events or school-sanctioned activities.
(B) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) and subparagraph (A), an electronic act shall not constitute pervasive conduct solely on the basis that it has been transmitted on the internet or is currently posted on the internet.
(3) “Reasonable pupil” means a pupil, including, but not limited to, a pupil with exceptional needs, who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct for a person of that age, or for a person of that age with the pupil’s exceptional needs.
(s) A pupil shall not be suspended or expelled for any of the acts enumerated in this section unless the act is related to a school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or principal or occurring within any other school district. A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts that are enumerated in this section and related to a school activity or school attendance that occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
(1) While on school grounds.
(2) While going to or coming from school.
(3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus.
(4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity.
(t) A pupil who aids or abets, as defined in Section 31 of the Penal Code, the infliction or attempted infliction of physical injury to another person may be subject to suspension, but not expulsion, pursuant to this section, except that a pupil who has been adjudged by a juvenile court to have committed, as an aider and abettor, a crime of physical violence in which the victim suffered great bodily injury or serious bodily injury shall be subject to discipline pursuant to subdivision (a).
(u) As used in this section, “school property” includes, but is not limited to, electronic files and databases.
(v) For a pupil subject to discipline under this section, a superintendent of the school district or principal is encouraged to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion, using a research-based framework with strategies that improve behavioral and academic outcomes, that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the pupil’s specific misbehavior as specified in Section 48900.5.
(w) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature that alternatives to suspension or expulsion be imposed against a pupil who is truant, tardy, or otherwise absent from school activities.
(2) It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which includes restorative justice practices, trauma-informed practices, social and emotional learning, and schoolwide positive behavior interventions and support, may be used to help pupils gain critical social and emotional skills, receive support to help transform trauma-related responses, understand the impact of their actions, and develop meaningful methods for repairing harm to the school community.
I know that's a lot of reading, but if you care about the truth, you're going to have to read the truth. Seems to me that the reality of the situation is pretty clearly showing they aren't really banning suspensions, and plenty of these are "disruptive" as Hardiman deceptively put it, without being violent as Andrew Pollack seems to be implying are no longer reasons to suspend or expel.
What justification was there to ban "willful defiance" suspensions and expulsions?
In short, systemic racism was the justification. "Willful defiance" is probably one fo the most vaguely defined justifications for suspension and expulsion, and it is precisely that reason that allows it to be used improperly, and in a systemically racist way. Are us on the left saying that a lot of teachers wear white pointy hats on their head and hate black people and kick them out of the class? Nope. We are saying that, for one example scenario, maybe a teacher that isn't black interprets actions of a black student, due to lack of socialization among black people growing up, and therefore interprets outbursts from a black student as falling under "willful defiance" when an equivalent one from a white student wouldn't fall under that definition to them. This is an implicit bias. There have been multiple studies on the outcomes of "willful defiance" and just suspensions in general as they relate to the disproportionality of suspensions/expulsions for black students.
Using this large amount of evidence as the justification, the California Teachers Association is attempting to fix the systemically racist outcomes with policy.
Republicans and far-right, still liars.
Don't listen to 'em. I only picked two examples, there are worse examples out there I'm sure, but just further evidence to never trust these far-right policy influencers. I could write something similar 8 times a day for years on end in perpetuity if I wanted to, about pretty much any subject far-right extremists and their enablers decide to opine on, with the same result. They lie.