Atlantic Grantees Make a Strong Case for School Discipline Policy Reform
Resource type: News
Suspensions, expulsions and arrests in U.S. public schools have skyrocketed over three decades. Studies show that zero tolerance policies alienate students, undermining their trust in peers and adults in school, and increasing their chances of dropping out and exposure to the juvenile justice system.
Atlantic’s grantees have been out in the media making a strong case for schools and states across the nation to reform school discipline policies and to improve the learning climate for disadvantaged children.
Better School Discipline
Jason Langberg of Advocates for Children’s Services called for a renewed focus on student achievement as the context for reforming student discipline policies in the Wake County Public School System. He framed his recommendations as new resolutions for 2012 to “end the school push-out crisis once and for all.” The News & Observer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning regional paper published in Raleigh, North Carolina. This op-ed was re-posted by organisations across the country, including the Dignity in Schools Coalition, another Atlantic grantee.
This New England Center for Investigative Reporting piece for The Republican quoted Barbara Best of the Children’s Defense Fund, an Atlantic grantee, in its coverage of the negative impact of zero tolerance policies on Massachusetts students; in 2010-2011 there were over 75,000 in-school and out-of-school suspensions in the state, accounting for thousands of lost school hours.
“When a child as young as 4 is suspended, something is wrong,” said Best, “We don’t have a child problem; we have an adult problem if we’re suspending 4, 5 and 6-year-olds.”
Preventing the “Cradle to Prison” Pipeline
NBC 3 WBLT of Jackson, Mississippi reported on the “Cradle to Prison” summit on 21 January 2012, an event organized by the Children Defense Fund (CDF). Hundreds attended the event in Jackson to learn about possible alternatives to school suspensions or expulsions. CDF is also currently conducting a joint study with the Perrico Institute, looking at the relationship between student infractions and punishments.