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
Meridian, MS, has been in the news often in the past several months for it's horrendous school-to-prison pipeline. But the sad reality is that the injustices committed there – the heavy and unequal punishments levied for minor offenses, the absurd amount of police involvement in school discipline, the denial of due process rights to students – are happening across the state. A new report from our allies at the Mississippi NAACP, the ACLU, and the Advancement Project reveals that "Mississippi is mired in an extreme school discipline crisis."
Stopping Out-of-School Suspensions: A Guide for State Policy provides state lawmakers and advocates with the tools they need to understand both the racial implications of school discipline policies and how they impact student learning. This information can be used to identify evidence-based policies and practices that will support educators, schools and districts in promoting positive forms of student discipline.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign is gearing up for their annual National Week of Action on School Pushout! Check out this trailer for the event, and click here to learn more and get involved in your local community!
In August, the Opportunity to Learn Campaign joined with the Dignity in Schools Campaign to launch "Solutions Not Suspensions: A call for a moratorium on out-of-school suspension." Watch video of the Los Angeles launch event, courtesy of Our Weekly, below. Learn more about the initiative here.
This report analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on school discipline and suspensions in the 2009-10 school year to reveal the unconscionable disparities regarding which students are pushed out of the classroom through out-of-school suspensions.The source data covers 7,000 school districts and represents 85 percent of all public school students, making this report the first and most comprehensive analysis of the impact of out nation's school discipline policies.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign Model Code on Education and Dignity presents a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human rights to education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination. The Code is the culmination of several years of research and dialogue with students, parents, educators, advocates and researchers who came together to envision a school system that supports all children and young people in reaching their full potential.
While it's necessary to address the bullying that goes on in schools, we need to do so in a way that employs discipline methods that keep kids in school for all but the worst offense and that address the root problems causing the misbehavior. Of the 42 states with bullying laws, 24 of them (57 percent) rely solely on punitive measures. These zero-tolerance policies have not only failed to make schools safer, they have produced a variety of harmful outcomes including the unnecessary use of school-based arrest and juvenile court citations; the overuse and misuse of out-of-school suspense and expulsions; and aggressive, in-school security measures such as metal detectors, surveillance cameras and school security or law enforcement officials. This "dangerous cocktail of policies and practices" is criminalizing our students rather than helping them grow and develop appropriate behaviors.
Students who are arrested at school are three times more likely to drop out than those who are not, and those who do are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system than those who remain in school. While some school districts use on-site officers to apprehend students who pose a real and immediate threat to the physical safety of those around them, others predominantly use these officers to enforce their code of student conduct. In such districts, officers are encouraged to arrest, in many cases using public order offenses as a justification, students who are unruly, disrespectful, use profanity, or show "attitute." This report examines the rate at which police officers in Massachusetts' three largest school districts - Boston, Springfield and Worcester - arrest students for public order offenses and the extent to which school-based policing influences arrest rates.