Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS): Savior or Curse?

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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a discipline replacement program that has been sweeping through our Nation’s schools for some years now. MTSS is not regulated to the discipline office the way a paddle would in the old days, nay MTSS is a school-wide, if not district-wide, endeavor. Nothing is left untouched, right down to the way school staff “have traditionally worked both in and out of the classroom,” per the State of California’s Education Department. A complete transformation, so to speak.

We first learned of MTSS in the DSUSD in November of 2021, when the school board received the “Educator Effectiveness Block Grant“. While the community warned the board that MTSS was another way of bringing in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) concepts, the board consistently denied there was any trace of CRT/DEI concepts in the districts schools. Concepts like “restorative justice” and “gender theory”.

Yet here we are, barely one year and four months later and DSUSD staff are claiming how strong their MTSS is because they include “restorative justice” and “Gender Support Plans” in their dealings with students.

The general public generally only hears about MTSS in the most glowing of terms. The public will hear how MTSS brings down suspensions and expulsions and provides a vast array of mental health options to any student that may be anxious or depressed, or even historically oppressed.

Yet, does MTSS actually accomplish those stated goals? What happens to those bad kids? Does suspending/expelling students based on any type of “historical oppression”–which can be racial, gender, or sexual orientation– make those students behave, or does it just put others in danger?

As you may recall, Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter in the school shooting in Parkland, FL, put blame on the discipline.

There was a recent incident at a Florida high school that you might recall. If one were go to the school district’s website, you’ll find that the district is steeped in MTSS.

Education Week kept a school shooting tracker for 2022, in which many of the school shootings were crimes that took place on or near school property, and not actual during school hours. However, if we were to eliminate the non-school shootings, should we expect to find schools and districts in need of MTSS?

Well, let’s see.

The first school on the list that was during school hours is Benito Juarez High School in the Chicago Public Schools. The school website is always a good place to start, but to quickly determine if a district has implemented MTSS is to navigate to the district website and search for MTSS.

Next on the list that meets our criteria is Cleveland HS in Portland, Or. Again, MTSS is present. “Guarantee equitable outcomes”, let that sink in. And yes, SEL is part of all this also. They want every bit of data they can get from your kids.

Suitland High School in Forestville, MD is the next school on the list. Suitland is a part of the Prince George County School district. Though not specifically mentioned, this strategic plan has all of the markings of MTSS, i.e. “Equitable outcomes”.

Suitland nearly escaped the MTSS brand, but enter the term “restorative justice” in the district’s search function and you’ll discover they have a “Social Justice Academy”, so maybe they should have the brand after all.

South Division High School in Milwaukee, WI would be the next school. Again, find the school district, as not all schools would have this information on their individual school sites, and give MTSS a search. Yes, this is Full blown MTSS.

The next school would be Ingraham High School in Seattle, WA, even though it isn’t clear the shooting occurred during school. Ingraham HS is part of Seattle Schools which also has implemented MTSS. Mental Health and therapists, by the way, have become a cottage industry our school districts, usually to 3rd party non-profits. More on this later, but it is no coincidence.

Next stop from the list: Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. This district even has an administrator for MTSS.

Rudsdale HS in Oakland is next on the list. This one actually does have information on the school website. This one is “Restorative Justice”, which is a component of MTSS and currently being implemented in DSUSD.

Ulvade, TX, which received a lot of press, is also on the Education Week list of school shootings. Any guesses?

Walt Disney Magnet School in Chicago. Of course Disney would have MTSS.

We made it through half of that list, not counting obvious non-school shootings, and every single district has MTSS implemented, usually years before the shooting occurred. Kids are bombarded with mental health surveys, chats, and apps– how many of these shooters had therapists?

If MTSS, and by extension, restorative justice, gender support plans-which includes secrecy from the parents if requested– and all the other CRT and DEI concepts that our schools are being bombarded with were successful, shouldn’t the Education Week list of school shootings consist of schools without MTSS? Schools that are in dire need of an alternative discipline program that would keep students safe?

Of course, none of this means that every school with MTSS will have these type of issues, but we would be remiss if we did not question the sagacity of implanting MTSS, along with all CRT and DEI concepts.

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