Advocates for Children and Youth

Education Director for Advocates for Children and Youth David Beard

BALTIMORE--Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) Tuesday launched a public information campaign, "Smart Discipline for Maryland," to complement the disciplinary reform work being done by the Maryland State Board of Education.

"The campaign's primary goal is to help school districts navigate through a new disciplinary environment which requires school administrators and educators to find alternative methods of holding students accountable for their behavior while keeping them in school and actively learning," said David Beard, education policy director at ACY. "We can appreciate that teaching can be tough and we want to give educators easy access to information that is currently available and most importantly, working."

This new disciplinary environment comes from MSBE's proposed revisions of disciplinary regulations and the code of conduct which limits the use of out-of-school punishment and encourages in-school methods of student accountability. This new disciplinary approach is coined as "smart discipline."

A recent study was done by the MSBE which showed that out-of-school punishments were occurring more frequently to students of color and those with disabilities. In Maryland, students with disabilities were twice as likely to be suspended or expelled while African-American students were three times as likely. Therefore, MSBE took steps to address these occurrences and to create a more positive and less punitive learning environment that still held students accountable.

Although the resources provided by ACY are primarily for school administrators and educators, the information would be helpful to anyone who is interested in disciplinary reform.

"We've provided a compilation of best practices of disciplinary reform from schools in Maryland and from around the country that are leading the way," Beard said. "It is our hope that these tools will be helpful to those who interact with students both in and outside of the school setting."

The campaign, which will run through August, includes the following:

--A white paper, Smart Discipline for Maryland: A Shared Approach to Keep Children in School and Learning - provides the "why" to school disciplinary reform.

--Smart Discipline for Maryland videos - provides information on smart discipline from practitioners and perspectives from those involved with smart discipline.

--Smart Discipline Guide - provides the "how" by providing a step-by-step outline on reforming disciplinary practices.

--The Benefits of Smart Discipline - provide the advantages of implementing smart discipline for teachers, students and the community.

--Smart Discipline Resources - provide PowerPoint slides and other reference materials.

--Smart Discipline stories - provide accounts of those involved with smart discipline policies.

--Smart Discipline tips - provide helpful tidbits on disciplinary reform to ACY's newsletter subscribers and social media followers.

For more information on the campaign, please visit Smart Discipline for Maryland.

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