A Radical Approach To Student Absences

Principal Suspends 500 Students At One Time

Andre Spivey

Andre has over 10 years of experience in Tech and Start-ups ranging from the advanced tech in the US Air Force to building his own educational software company Live 2 Learn Differently. His is a proud graduate of Morris Brown College and Cornell University.

Education throughout America has been the center of debates between liberals and conservatives, parents, educators, employers and others for years now. There has been discussion about changing the curriculum, adjusting hours, finding more innovative ways to have parent-teacher conferences, getting the communities and businesses more involved along with a host of other issues. Quite often during our lofty heated discussions, those who are affected most by education are forgotten about in favor of using the education debate to score political points.


Although not once as valued as in previous generations in terms of economics, the high school diploma is still an important step toward economic security and stability throughout an individual’s life. It is estimated that 47% of first-year college students are unprepared and struggle academically.


Finding a way to bring innovation and value that keeps students engaged in high school is critical, which brings us to a frustrated principal in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.


500 Students Suspended

Harrisburg High School, located in Harrisburg Pennsylvania has had its’ struggles throughout the years, but it appears that these challenges recently came to a head.


Currently, the district has been struggling since 2015 to improve the worst graduation rate in the state of Pennsylvania, which stood at a dismal 38%. Couple those challenges with being at one of the most challenging schools in the most challenged district and you get disengaged and frustrated parents, distraught, but passionate educators and lost students in the mix. This year alone Harrisburg teachers have reported increasing behavior problems and have asked the school board to approve 490 expulsions.


The question becomes what is the cause, one could point to poverty, being that the poverty rates in Harrisburg have increased steadily for the past 3 years. One could point to a lack of parental involvement, but that may lead back to poverty as a causal issue. Nonetheless, a fed up school principal took a radical step in order to get students attention, parents attention and get the students back in line.


According to PennLive, the school’s Principal; Lisa Love is quoted as saying; “ The problem that I’ve noticed is that students are coming to school, but they are not showing up to classes when they get there.” In response to what she saw as students hanging out in hallways, bathrooms and other places, she suspended 500 students at one time.



The Current State Of High School Education


Decades ago, having a high school diploma was the highest level of education that most people attained. During that time period, schools were less academic in theory, but more hands on with classes directly related to adult life.


There were classes such as home economics, woodworking and automotive, these were classes that you needed not only to get a job after high school but to run a household as an adult.


The high school dropout rates among all demographics were terrible, but due to concerted effort over the years, those rates have improved greatly. That improvement has created an environment in which the high school diploma is not highly valued by employers, it is merely a tool to ensure that you can attend the next level of education which is college.


The problem with devaluing high school education is that students began to take it less seriously, therefore not being prepared for college. Many college professors have complained that the incoming students have trouble with critical thinking and reading comprehension.


The goal  from that principal’s perspective is to do something radical in hopes of letting students and parents know that this is a serious issue and that it is not okay. It remains to be seen, whether or not this step will work, or whether or not Harrisburg will be able to improve its’ dropout rates and host of other issues, but as a nation, we should all hope that they do, as with many other schools throughout the nation.



Feature Image From AmericanNow




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