PA Advocates Want Fairness in School Discipline

By Yesenia Rosado, Programs and Policy Coordinator, Education Voters of Pennsylvania

Everyone knows that all students thrive when they learn in a safe school environment, but the reality is, this is not the case for most students. Zero-tolerance and harsh discipline policies are pushing students out of schools, into the streets, and at times, into prison. In Allegheny County, Black students are suspended at nearly 5 times the rate of their White peers and twice the rate of Black students around the country, according to data from the Office of Civil Rights

This was the focus of a forum hosted jointly by the Education Law Center (ELC) and Education Voters of Pennsylvania (EVPA) on October 5th where the issue of school climate in Western Pennsylvania and the impact it is having on our school community as a whole was discussed. State and local stakeholders came together to not only review recent data on local school climate issues, but to share success stories of how other communities, organizations and school personnel are working to change their school climate.

School Climate is a component of a broader issue we face, namely, making sure that all children have the opportunity for a quality public education with the understanding that we all benefit when a child is successful in life and we all feel the impacts when they aren’t. It’s about evoking a sense of community responsibility and reminding people that education is not a privilege but a right.

And that is the goal of ELC and EVPA’s next event. On Tuesday, November 20th, they will be hosting a community event open to the public to educate the community on this important issue, share stories and discuss strategies on bringing more awareness to stakeholders and community members. Email us at edvoters@educationvoterspa.org if you are interested in learning more about this event!

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