Teachers get bonus for fewer suspensions; union says program flawed

BALTIMORE -  

It's another day at the Calverton elementary school.

Time for a town meeting.

Students listen to teacher and staff talk about different things today it's about friends who are bad influences on your life.

They're hoping to change behavior before it gets bad.

But more importantly they want students to really want to be in a classroom.

 "You can't learn in chaos. "

Tanya Green is principal at Calverton.

She says yes there are bonuses for teachers and staff if they are able to cut down on the number of students who are suspended.

But she says the real bonus is when you have a school in of the most challenged neighborhood where children have a place that they want to be.

If they want to be there they're not going to act out.

 "Attendance improvement and truancy decrease is our factors under this program it's not just about suspensions you want the students here you want them to want to be here that's what this is about how can your school team work hard to make students want to be here and not commit infractions and make parents want their children to be here." Green says.

But teacher's union president Marietta English says the lack of suspension for some children concerns her.

She say almost daily she receives emails from teachers at schools all around the city who are frustrated with students who violate the code of conduct, sometimes violently and nothing is done.

English says some students behavior deserves suspension and placement in an alternative situation..

"It sends the wrong message to children that you're not being punished for your actions."

She says by not suspending students it sends the wrong message to children that you are not being punished for your actions."

"We're saying that bad language and being disrespectful to teachers and other students is okay, this is the message we're sending to our students."  English says.

Meantime at Calverton, Green says the teachers working as a team have reduced suspensions and overall behavior, attendance, test scores have improved at this turn around school.

But they will suspend if they have to. 

"The code of conduct is always followed teachers are continuing to report these behaviors but what I've found teachers doing more is rather than writing an office referral and reporting the behavior to the administrator they're owning that they support the consequence." She says.

Green says this year principals are not eligible for any bonuses under this program something that she agrees with.

Earning those any suspension bonus is very difficult.

Out of 13 turn around schools in the program last year, only two schools including Green's had teachers that received a bonus.

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