"An unprecedented, class action lawsuit brought against one Southern California school district and its top officials could have a big impact on schools across the country."
. . .
"The lawsuit alleges that, in Compton, the schools' reaction to traumatized students was too often punishment — not help.
'They were repeatedly either sent to another school, expelled or suspended — and this went back to kindergarten,' says Marleen Wong, who teaches at the USC School of Social Work and has spent decades studying kids and trauma. 'I think we're really doing a terrible disservice to these children.'
The suit argues that trauma is a disability and that schools are required — by federal law — to make accommodations for traumatized students, not expel them. The plaintiffs want Compton Unified to provide teacher training, mental health support for students and to use conflict-mediation before resorting to suspension."
The lawsuit puts forth serious allegations.
And yet, while the nprEd article in some ways calls appropriate attention to the lawsuit, there is something alarming about the article's title, Are Traumatized Students Disabled? A Debate Straight Outta Compton, and it begs the question: is the lawsuit's origination in Compton funny?
In one sense, with regard to the title, the lawsuit does raise the question of whether traumatized students are -- or should be classified as -- disabled. Research and common sense both point to a conclusion that traumatized students face impediments to learning parallel to those of students with disabilities.
However, I have to ask, is the A Debate Straight Outta Compton language necessary? Does it further NPR's message, or that of the lawsuit? While Compton has long been an object of public ridicule within popular culture, it seems that the very point of the lawsuit at bar is to draw attention to the facts that residents of Compton face real and dangerous challenges on a day-to-day basis, and that, importantly, Compton's challenges burden children and teens in nuanced ways that are -- and have long been -- imprudently addressed by Compton's schools.
Compton's schools are tasked with bettering their surrounding communities through education, and those schools have been accused of over-punishing traumatized students who need perhaps the most help of all, and somehow that's all funny -- a joke to be had in a headline?
I, for one, don't see anything funny about it.
Posted by Parker Fulton
Photo and content credits to NPR