- Antwan Wilson, who will take over as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools on Feb. 1, became known for improving graduation rates and reducing suspensions while he was superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District.
- District Administration reports that under Wilson’s leadership, Oakland saw higher graduation rates among black and Latino students as well as English learners, and as superintendent, he also increased teacher pay, promoted accountability and improved the district’s fiscal stability.
- Elsewhere, DeMarcos Holland, principal of New Manchester High School in Georgia, has reduced the average number of tardies from as many as 60 per day to fewer than 10 by playing music before each bell, and Jacquelyn Thigpen, superintendent of the Cleveland School District in Mississippi, is moving forward on a plan to integrate black and white students in three new schools.
Antwan Wilson will take over as head of DC Public Schools following Kaya Henderson’s exit. While he is an outsider, he is not expected to make sweeping changes to the direction the district has been heading over the last decade. His success on reducing suspensions in Oakland comes at a time when the nation is moving away from zero tolerance discipline policies in favor of keeping kids in classrooms.
Attention on the so-called school-to-prison pipeline has inspired administrators around the country to institute restorative justice policies that address misbehavior but figure out how to reintegrate students into classrooms rather than sending them away. Suspensions have been tied to increased chances of coming into contact with law enforcement, lower graduation rates and higher dropout rates. Students who miss class for suspensions are more likely to fall behind, academically, and enter a cycle of bad behavior that leads to further suspensions. Focusing on prevention can be a game-changer.