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Use suspension money to improve school climate

When urban school districts have used incentives to get teachers to improve test scores, we got improved test scores, but in many cases as a result of widespread cheating (remember Atlanta). Now, Baltimore City has proposed the same kind of incentive system for teachers to reduce the number of suspensions ("City trying bonuses to cut rate of suspension," Jan. 15).

An incentive system seems to be a strange solution to a problem that is clearly about school climate. Teachers and schools need help and support for developing strong school climates and in dealing with students, communities, and families. The schools cited as reducing suspensions as mentioned in The Sun's article are ones I have visited. They have strong principals who deliberately work on improving school culture.

Why not use the Race to the Top funds for a leadership academy that teaches principals and teachers how to build strong school climates? That seems like a much more comprehensive approach than an incentive program for the teachers who figure out something fast.

Jessica Shiller, Towson

The writer is a professor at Towson University.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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