Can someone explain to me exactly how a suspension is a punishment? At least in today's educational environment, a suspension is practically nothing. I mean, honestly, a suspension is softer than Dirk Nowitzski in the NBA playoffs. It's the educational equivalent of paid vacation. Let's examine:
1) Students get out of school- Kids hate school nowadays. At least, they hate school for all of the pragmatic reasons to attend, such as, I dunno, actually learning something. They love hanging with friends, texting each other during class, listening to iPods during passing periods, and figuring out where to score drugs. I say, let's make them go to double school. Let's hire special teachers that take over after the traditional day. After double school is over, they go home, eat special gruel, go to bed, and WHAM! They're back at school again! Double bonus, their brains hurt so much that they are too lethargic to screw around any more. Triple bonus, they're too busy with school to do what kids usually do on suspension, which is play video games, update their myspace, and text their friends who are still in school and telling them how awesome being suspended is.
2) They get to make up their work- Are you kidding me? They get to make up what they missed? Really? I mean, c'mon, let's think about this seriously. There are only three possible outcomes to this little scenario. a) Students will cheat like mad banshees off of their friends work to get caught up or b) Will spend tons of time after school with their teachers to figure out what to do for what they missed. Here's the problem with this, who does it punish when teachers have to put in extra time to catch kids up? That's right, teachers!!! It sure would be tougher on troublemakers if they actually paid some kind of price for acting up, rather than getting special attention to get caught up because they can't keep their mouth shut or keep their hands off of others.
3) It is a badge of honor - Yup, coming back from suspension is like advancing through the belts in Karate. Once you've heard a student proudly proclaim how they've bounced from high school to high school (along with the run down of each one, and which ones were crackin' or not) you've pretty much lost the battle. There is not much more you can do, except hope for a smooth transition once state corrections officers get involved. Oh, and if a kid has come back from opportunity school, forget it. They are a 7th degree black belt. They may as well run for class president.
So what do I suggest? Well, I don't know exactly, but why exactly are we begging and pleading with students to come who don't want to be there? It's amazing, we are in a system that lets students choose where they want to go once they get kicked out of somewhere. I think a major paradigm shift is in order. Why not just say "Yes, you had a chance for a free education, and you've squandered it. You've had second chances, but now there is nothing left for you. No soup for you!" You can only try to save a drowning man who refuses a life preserver for so long. Would it be so bad to elevate education, to make it a privilege for those who won't waste it, and ruin it for everyone else?