The Obama administration uses a once troubled Baltimore City high school to promote its program for reducing student suspensions and expulsions.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder spent the better part of Wednesday morning at Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore.
They said they’re on a mission to find ways to keep more students in the school house instead of the jail house.
Holder reached out to a small group of Douglass students. He and Duncan wanted to find out how the administration at Douglass went about changing the school’s climate.
“If they walk the halls now after they’ve seen the documentary, they would be surprised because they would expect violence and all of that, but it’s like a calm environment in Douglass,” student Timothy McCant said.
Douglass made national headlines after a cable documentary revealed a long list of problems, including a high suspension and drop-out rate. Both have been dramatically reduced since then in part due to new academic programs and a focus on security and peer mediation.
Later, in a press conference, Duncan said the same type of turnaround is possible across the nation, using models like the one at Douglass.
“Too many schools resort too quickly to exclusionary discipline, even for minor misbehaviors. Exclusionary discipline is so common that in some cases, pre-K students as young as 3 and 4 years old are getting suspended,” Duncan said.