The Hechinger Report describes New Orleans charter schools’ efforts to ditch the Zero Tolerance model of discipline in favor of trauma-sensitive practices. One school, in New Orleans, Crocker, is at the vanguard of a collaborative of five schools launched in 2015 by the city’s health department. At each school, educators, experts in psychiatry and development, and mental-health providers work together to improve academic achievement by establishing a place where students can feel a sense of belonging and safety. The concept behind these “trauma-informed schools” is supported by research showing that traumatized students — those who have been exposed to repeated violence, abuse and deprivation — maintain such high levels of vigilance and anxiety that they cannot flourish at school until they can calm themselves.
“In the past, this group of misunderstood students — even those within Crocker’s own charter network, New Orleans College Prep — often faced harsh punishment. Five years ago, Crocker’s sister schools, Cohen College Prep and Sylvanie Williams College Prep, suspended more than half their students, 51 percent, during the school year.
The rigid “no excuses” disciplinary approach kept students out of class, not learning. It simply didn’t work for about a third of suspended students, said Amanda Aiken, a College Prep administrator who was Crocker’s principal when the school began to implement a trauma-informed model in 2015.
At Crocker, teachers and staff were trained to recognize trauma and learn how it affects children’s development. They learned to structure each day so that students always know what’s coming next, because unexpected changes can rattle traumatized children. At a school-wide level, administrators shelved mandatory, zero-tolerance suspension-expulsion requirements, replacing them with more flexible procedures that try to get at the root of misbehavior”.
Written by Katy Reckdahl, you can read the full Hechinger Report article here.
The story No Excuses’ New Orleans Charter School Has A Change Of Heart also appeared on New Orleans Public Radio – WWNO. You can listen to it below.