Congressman Davis: Noble discipline policy a “striking, systemic problem”

Students protest Noble's "secret sauce" discipline policy

Coming on the heels of State Senator William Delgado’s bill calling for an end to charter school discipline fees is this opinion piece by Congressman Danny Davis in today’s Catalyst.

Last summer I met with Congressman Davis’s education aide, Jill Hunter-Williams, as part of Parents Across America’s Lobby Day, the day before the SOS March. Among other things, I raised the issue of charter schools. She told me that they were aware of the unimpressive results of charter schools in general, but that they were very impressed with Noble Network of Charter Schools, which made the Congressman think that it made sense to expand such “good” charter schools. I told her what we knew at the time about Noble’s discipline policy . She was very interested and wanted more information, which I sent on to her.

It’s great to see that Congressman Davis has done his own investigation into Noble and found, as we did, that there are some very disturbing aspects to its discipline policy. He writes:

I found that in 2009:

  • Noble Street suspended 51 percent of its students out of school at least once – almost 3 times the 18 percent rate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
  • Although Noble Street has a lower percentage of African American students than CPS – only 30 percent in the sample – 53 percent of students suspended at least once were African American.  Moreover, nearly all African American students – 88 percent– were suspended out of school at least once, compared to only about one-third of African American students in CPS.
  • Noble Street suspended out of school 68 percent of its students with disabilities and 48 percent of its students without disabilities, compared to the respective CPS rates of 38 percent and 15 percent.

These statistics clearly demonstrate a striking, systemic problem with the Noble Street discipline practices.

There is more to this story, too. Stay tuned.

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Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.