Fair and Just School Climate
Across the nation advocates, educators, parents, students and policymakers are recognizing the importance of fostering positive, healthy school climates. Increasingly, schools are moving away from harmful and counter-productive zero tolerance discipline policies and toward proven restorative approaches to addressing conflict in schools. Everyone thrives when a school community is a healthy living and learning climate for all.
The Latest on Fair and Just School Climate
This report card on New York State's progress in improving public education is far from stellar. The report card finds that the state is moving in the right direction only in expanding access to pre-K and creating community schools. Otherwise, New York's policymakers are failing to ensure equity for all students in areas like expanded learning time, providing challenging and engaging curriculum, school climate, and school funding. Providing these resources and opportunities are the standards by which every state and and policymaker should be held accountable.
20 years after Massachusetts (often lauded as a leader in education policy) passed the Education Reform Act of 1993, Citizens for Public Schools, an OTL ally, took a long hard look at the results of that law to find the state still has a ways to go toward ensure equity and opportunity for all Massachusetts students. [Executive summary available below. Download the full report here.]
In an inspiring display of cross-sector collaboration, the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force has released an action plan for NYC officials to reduce the use of suspensions, summonses, and arrests by building common cause between different agencies and communities and implementing positive discipline strategies.
In an age of mass school school closings, "A Proposal for Sustainable School Transformation" has been held up as a model of smart policy by organizers fighting for the resources and opportunities to support their local schools. It advocates for a strong focus on school culture, curriculum and staffing, and wrap-around supports for children.
The National Education Policy Center's new book "Closing the Opportunity Gap" offers a wide array of policy recommendations for closing the opportunity gap and ensuring all students have the resources they need to succeed. This policy guide distills the most important recommendations from the book at three different levels: at the level of students' individual needs, at the level of in-school opportunities and resources, and at the level of communities and neighborhoods.
A new guide from the Schott Foundation, Opportunity Action, and national partners including the National School Board Association (NSBA) highlights school districts across the country for their efforts to create discipline policies aimed at ending excessive and discriminatory out-of-school suspensions. "Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members" urges local officials to implement positive discipline policies that keep students in the classroom and learning.
A new report from UCLA's Civil Right Project is a one stop shop for all the school discipline data advocates or organizers needto fight the overuse of out-of-school suspensions. Out of School & Off Track uses data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools for the 2009-2010 academic year and breaks it down by district, race, gender, elementary/secondary school level, English language learners, and disability status.
In the past five years, Arkansas has been deliberately and successfully moving toward a juvenile justice system that relies less on confinement and more on holistic, community-based approaches that effectively engage youth in constructive life choices. This report describes Arkansas's success in juvenile justice reform to date and summarizes the steps still needed to best serve Arkansas youth and their communities.
A new voice is chiming in to the school discipline debate: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement condemning the overuse of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, and advocating instead for positive discipline polices that keep students in the classroom.