A smart law that works
The Dallas Morning News
It’s encouraging when we can report that a good law is delivering on its intended results.
Such is the case with a Texas rule that banned out-of-school suspensions for the state’s youngest students except in cases of bringing weapons or drugs to school.
A new report from the advocacy group Texans Care for Children shows that the number of pre-K through second grade kids kicked out of school dropped nearly 80% the first year the law was in effect, from 36,475 in 2015-2016 to 7,640 in 2017-2018.
State law caught up with years of research that shows suspensions of these kids, some as young as 4, did little to improve behavior and kept too many kids on a downward spiral throughout their school careers.
That’s the good news.
We’re concerned that thousands of kids, more than 60,000, are still being removed from class on in-school suspensions. And a disproportionately high number of them are in special ed, or foster care, or they are boys or black. Even in controlled academic studies, black children who behaved appropriately in class endured disproportionate suspensions, according to the report.
Teachers have to be able to control their classrooms. Sometimes removal is required. Bringing a weapon to school or harassment and making serious threats should be non-negotiable, for example.
But we urge districts to pay closer attention to the part of the law that outlines available strategies that effectively improve behavior while keeping the struggling youngest children in their classrooms. Students can’t learn if they aren’t in class. ...
We see a lot of promise in another bill — authored by then-Rep. Eric Johnson, now Dallas mayor — and passed in the last session. His bill would require schools to report the race, gender and age of students on out-of-school suspensions, and the reasons they were suspended. It was Johnson who led the charge banning out-of-school suspension while in Austin two years ago.
Johnson has worked for years to “dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and to build a school-to-workforce pipeline,” as he has said.
The demographic data could go a long way in helping researchers identify and address the underlying reasons for the suspensions and work on solutions. ...
Tradition should be sacred, and the people of West Texas are serious about their traditions, so that’s just one of several reasons we are glad to see the iconic white buffalo statue moved from its longtime location at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium to the brand-spanking-new Buffalo Stadium that West Texas A&M University will christen Saturday.
The statue, crafted by Amarillo artist Jack King Hill, will be dedicated during an 11 a.m. ceremony today. The next day the Buffaloes will lift the curtain on their 2019 season with a 6 p.m. home game against Azusa Pacific.
Hill, a sculptor who specialized in Native American culture, went to work on the statue and in 1967 and the result was the 9-foot by 12-foot, 1,800-pound white buffalo statue the artist believed would be the perfect complement to the landscape outside the stadium. Hill was a mechanic for Southwestern Public Service and a safety coordinator at Nichols Station, but he had a passion for creating art.
“That’s the mascot of the football team. The buffalo is a sacred animal,” his son, King Hill, recalling his father’s thoughts earlier this week about the statue’s history. “And not only does (the hill) need a buffalo, it needs a historic buffalo and it needs to be white because that’s sacred to the Native American.”
As our story pointed out, the white buffalo, which weighs nearly 2,000 pounds, now has a new home on the south entrance at the on-campus stadium. ...
Originally, the buffalo was unveiled on a flatbed truck on the field during the 1967 homecoming game as it was formally presented to James Cornette, the president at WT then. A few weeks after that, it was anchored outside the stadium, where it has been on display for the past 52 years.
“I’m very grateful that it’s going to be saved and preserved there — eternally grateful,” King Hill said in our story.
Likewise, we’re grateful to see this important artwork not just preserved but given its rightful place at the new venue. ...