The Missouri General Assembly committee this week is hearing a bill that would prohibit schools from suspending students in preschool to third grade and would prohibit suspending children at all for truancy, absences, or prior offenses. This according to Ozarks First. I think it's sad a law like this even needs to be considered in the first place.

Yeah, little kids can be stinkers sometimes. But it bothers me that we need to legislate that you don't suspend students that are in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or maybe third grade. It seems like, for the most part, that would be common sense.

Isn't this the age where you want to explain to the kids why whatever disruptive behavior they're engaged in is wrong? Isn't this the age where time-outs might be more effective? Sure, there might be a rare instance where a suspension might be warranted. But that's the very rare exception, not the rule.

I think, maybe, second and third graders might learn from a suspension. At least the lesson that your actions have consequences. And that can be a good lesson to learn early. Yet, once again, I ask the question where's the common sense? Why does this need to be a law?

And for kids that are truant, the last thing we should be doing is making them sit out more classes. Because, in my opinion, either the kid doesn't want to be there and won't care that he or she isn't in class. Or their truancy might have more to do with the parent or guardian than it does with the student himself or herself.

Ozarks First mentions that National Public Radio in Kansas City reported that while suspension numbers are declining, there are still concerns that racial disparities continue in terms of discipline. And a St. Louis University study published in January of last year found suspension rates were five times higher in predominately minority schools.

What I learned by reading the NPR Kansas City article is the bill has a lot of mechanisms in it that require schools to collect and report data related to disciplinary removals and force school boards to chart some new paths when it comes to student discipline. Neither of these ideas sounds bad to me. Nor does the idea of trying to find the reasons and solve the disparity in suspension rates between minority schools and non-minority schools.

It still bothers me we're considering legislation to regulate the suspensions of students. It's education. It's children. Educators and school administrators shouldn't need a law that tells them suspensions of young kids, or for truants, is in most cases is a bad idea. And that a disparity in suspension rates between minority and non-minority schools might be a problem to solve. The fact that this law might be necessary leaves me very unsettled.

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