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9 in 10 Calif. Teachers Say They Need More Training on New Discipline Methods

Almost three years since California joined the vanguard of a burgeoning national movement to sharply curtail the use of student suspensions and expulsions, nearly nine in 10 Golden State teachers say they still need more training and support for utilizing alternative discipline techniques, reports California education news website EdSource. In that same survey—an online poll of 3,500 members by the California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association—40 percent of teachers reported they had received "little or no training" on so-called restorative practices like peer mediation.

The results of the California survey underscore a national trend: Educators, both fans and foes of the recent student-discipline reform efforts, say that they aren't getting the kinds of training and support they need to manage their classrooms without employing exclusionary discipline techniques such as suspensions. While restorative practices are generally a hit with civil rights groups concerned with how suspensions and exclusions have tended to fall disproportionally on black and Latino students, teachers' unions have been much more skeptical. 

Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association, told EdSource that his union supports these alternative discipline methods when they are done right, but that teachers must get additional help from school psychologists and counselors.

"What's happening is these students are being thrown back into the classroom and nothing has been done to deal with their behavior," he said. "There continue to be disruptions, causing frustrations on both sides."

The 2014 bill that overhauled California's school-discipline code is set to sunset next year, and lawmakers have already put forth a renewal bill.  The California Teachers Association has yet to take a position on the bill, reports EdSource. 

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