School discipline

Dr. Kyser is the Associate Director for Engagement and Partnerships at the Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP Center) within the Great Lakes Equity Center. In this role, Dr. Kyser leads the coordination of technical assistance support and collaboration with the MAP Center’s service provision team to plan, direct, and manage supports and professional learning experiences offered to state and local education agencies throughout the MAP Center’s thirteen-state region. Prior to joining the MAP Center, Dr. Kyser served as a Language Arts Inclusion teacher, Governance & Leadership Analyst for the City of Indianapolis, and as Chief of Staff for Tindley Accelerated Schools. Dr. Kyser has received executive training at Harvard, Stanford, and Indiana Universities. She is a graduate of Culver Girls Academy of the Culver Academies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Arts in English, and a PhD of Philosophy in Urban Education Studies from Indiana University.

Dr. Kyser’s work, ideas, and research are focused on policy implementation in urban school communities—how individuals interact around and through policy; further, how interactions converge and impact neighbors, educators, parents/caregivers, and students. Specifically, exploring the ecologies (Weaver-Hightower, 2008) between city and school with particular concentrations in three areas: 1) how marginalized students and groups of students are represented and framed by dominant narratives (Harry, Rueda, & Kalyanpur, 1999) in policy implementation, 2) community stakeholders’ learning via transformative professional learning (Macey & Radd, 2013) towards equity, and 3) critical collaborative problem solving.

Finding Vigilance: Centering Ourselves in Equity-Oriented Systemic Change of Discipline Systems

In the U.S., discipline policies—in both creation and enforcement—result in re-segregated learning environments [1], the inequitable penalization of marginalized students [2], and limited access to learning [3] for historically marginalized students. Research demonstrates harsh discipline has significant financial costs on our economy [4] and shows the nefarious ways the prison industrial complex incentivizes [5] and dehumanizes [6] people. Given these dynamics, there is a question I have begun to urgently ask myself.

This question encompasses rather than minimizes the realities of US discipline policies disproportionally affecting students on the margins broadly, including students from working class backgrounds, [7], students of color [8], students of color with dis/abilities [9], and gender non-conforming students [10]. This question also attempts to fiercely surface, rather than make invisible, my complicitness in participating in harsh discipline practices—writing frequent office referrals as a classroom teacher and signing notice of expulsion letters as an administrator— but also reflecting on my belief, at the time, that the power of control, enforcement, and authority was my right as an educator and in the best interest of the students I served. The question I ask has evolved from: what can I do? To: what must I do? What must I do to contribute towards transformative systemic change towards equity [11]? Read more

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