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
In 2010, the President set a goal for the U.S. to become the global leader in postsecondary degree attainment by the year 2020. Yet, more than 7,000 students, many of whom are not proficient in reading and math, are leaving or being pushed out of U.S. schools each day. This study shows that the U.S. cannot achieve the President’s 2020 goal if our schools continue to hemorrhage large segments of our nation’s youth. Accordingly, this document is designed to serve as a blueprint for implementing a comprehensive package of policy reforms that seek to increase the quantity of students who succeed at every stage of the educational pipeline and the quality of the education they receive. Different from most calls for reform, it considers the educational pipeline in its entirety—from early childhood through postsecondary attainment—and offers evidence‐informed strategies to boost access, quantity and quality at every stage.
In this report, the Children's Defense Fund - New York brings to life data on the stark inequities in NYC's environment, schools and criminal justice system through a stunning series of maps illustrating "the legacy of years of misinformed fiscal and policy decisions." They are a call to action and a reminder that for decades "the lions of distress and limited opportunities were pursuing the children who call these neighborhoods home."
This is an edited version of a commentary given by Stan Karp , a teacher of English and journalism in Paterson, N.J., for 30 years. Karp spoke on Oct. 1 at the fourth annual Northwest Teachers for Justice conference in Seattle. He is now the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center and an editor of the 25-year-old Rethinking Schools magazine. A video and fuller version of the commentary can be found here.
Putting young people in jail – particularly for nonviolent offenses – is a failed strategy, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that relied on decades of research and data. The report's most scathing findings include that youth incarceration does not reduce future offending; provides no overall benefit to public safety; wastes taxpayer dollars; and exposes youth to high levels of violence and abuse.
The Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, and the Public Education and Policy Fund of New York, bring attention to the Buffalo, N.Y., public school district's strict out-of-school suspension practices for non-violent offenses. In citing statistics that show out-of-school suspensions have significant educational consequences, the report urges the district to adopt a “restorative justice” alternative that would keep students in schools.
Findings from a multi-year study of discipline records for nearly 1 million Texas students show that the majority of them were suspended or expelled between seventh to 12th grade. A not-surprising corollary finding: When students are suspended or expelled, the likelihood that they will repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or become involved in the juvenile justice system increases significantly. For more on the groundbreaking report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University.
The student-led Voices of Youth in Chicago Education recently compiled a cost-analysis that shows how enforcing and administering zero tolerance policies costing taxpayers and examines the damaging effects of the Chicago public school system’s disciplinary policies on students and schools. In the report, “Failed Policies, Broken Futures: The True Cost of Zero Tolerance,” VOYCE writes that such harsh policies are “based on the fear that young people of color are future criminals, not the hope that we will be future leaders.”