Today, a group of dedicated and talented local students staged a play called "Willful" smack dab in the middle of the grand, old state Capitol building. The topic was willful defiance, an ill-defined charge that school administrators can levy at trouble-making kids they want to suspend.
At the invitation of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, the kids, in conjunction with the Cornerstone Theater Company, acted out a scenario in which a school administrator was about to charge a kid with willful defiance.
But rather than go through with it, the administrator had a change of heart and instead started a dialogue with the student about what was going on in his personal life.
Education, and the access to it, is one of the so-called social determinants of healthy communities. What exactly does that mean?
Carl Pinkson, of the Black Parallel School Board, explains how it all boils down to health. Studies show that when a student gets kicked out of school, he may hit the streets, become involved in gangs or other illegal activity, end up in prison or -- worse -- with a shortened life span.
"Our philosophy is there is a direct connection between the health of the community and the access to education," Pinkson said. "There's something in the issue of violence and young people dying a violent death on the streets that connects health to good education."
That's one reason why there's a burgeoning effort to get school boards across California to rethink punishments like suspending students for "willfull defiance" or "zero tolerance" -- ultimately to enhance the health of the community.