Students attend MSAN conference to decrease discipline gap


Erin Blette

Students gather around a table at the MSAN conference in Cleveland. According to MSAN adviser Erin Blette, the students focused their research on disciplinary action.

Maddie Kennedy, Staff Writer

Imagine a school in which there is no racial discipline gap, no disparity in numbers of minorities in higher level classes and one in which students have the power to make a change. Can you? The group that visited the Minority Student Achievement Network conference can.

Ten Brookline students and three chaperones attended the MSAN conference at the end of October. Students who attended the conference addressed the achievement and discipline gap between students of color and white students at the high school, and have created an action plan to try to fix the discipline problem.

MSAN adviser and special education Teacher Erin Blette said the inequities in question of Brookline High School are significant.

“The trip is really centered around the students, and they perform work around an action plan. They brainstorm an idea regarding an issue that there is in the school and they come up with a plan to address that issue,” Blette said.

According to Blette, this plan, the “Reconciliation Community Collaboration,” hopes to combat suspension rates and lower scale disciplinary actions.

“We see this in the data in a larger scale in terms of suspensions, but the students were particularly interested in look at the minutia day-to-day discipline at BHS like who received detentions,” Blette said

*There was not enough data to provide statistics for other races. VENNGAGE GRAPHIC BY SOFIA REYNOSO/SAGAMORE STAFF

Junior Sabrina Pierre, who attended the conference, said that part of the plan includes tracking minor disciplinary actions through a form filled out by both the student and the teacher after the incident, giving students of color a voice in the situation.

“It’s like we fall through the cracks, or are in the shadows and we don’t speak up for for ourselves, so we just stay in that place,” Pierre said.

The other half of the action plan is to hold workshops for teachers on this issue.

The goal would be “teaching teachers about biases that they don’t notice that they have, and showing them the proper way to handle kids,” Pierre said.


According to Blette, the group acknowledges that issues of the achievement gap and discipline gap are national.

“I just want to make sure that it’s known that this issue is a national, systemic problem, and not just something at BHS. We have an administration who is committed to solving inequalities, but America’s institutional systems make doing so very difficult,” Blette said.

However the students remained hopeful on their plans, and said they gained so much more from this experience than just plan-making.

According to junior Vishni Samaraweera, the fact that students across the country are working together to address these problems is very uplifting.

“You don’t even realize how similar [schools] can be because they’re in different parts of the country, “Samaraweera said. “It’s saddening in a way that the issues are happening at all these schools, but it’s also really powerful to see how you can work together with people that you’ve never met to come up with all these strategies. I didn’t even expect it to be amazing as it was.”