What accounts for the achievement gap between minority and white students? Researchers have long looked at economic differences as a key factor, but lately the role of school discipline policies has been getting more attention. Some lawmakers in California have proposed three bills focused on school climate as a way to narrow the achievement gap.
News and Events: August 2013
The first day of school in one neighborhood on this city’s far South Side brought a parade of security workers in neon vests, police officers on patrol, an idling city fire truck and, briefly, a police helicopter hovering above. All this to make sure that students from a shuttered elementary school could make it safely past abandoned lots, boarded-up houses and gang territory to get to their new school less than a half-mile away.
The Dream Defenders succeeded in drawing national attention to unjust policies that disproportionately impact young people of color like Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, racial profiling, the criminalization of youth and the harsh discipline policies that feed the school-to-prison pipeline.
The Austin Lawyers Guild wants Austin schools to end disciplinary policy of ticketing students for minor misbehaviors – a practice it says creates a “school-to-prison pipeline” for troubled students.
Education officials are taking a more sensitive approach to student misbehavior for the upcoming school year with a newly revised disciplinary code.
A civil rights initiative called The Advancement Project hosted an unprecedented national conference in Washington, D.C. called “We Can Do Better.” Parts were videotaped, and are now available online. The discussions offer insight that could prove useful for parents, educators and lawmakers concerned about both dropouts and incarceration rates in some communities.
While more school districts look to move away from zero-tolerance policies of the past, educators continue to feel the pressure to remove disruptive students from the classroom. Yet disciplinary strategies that remove students from school have been shown to increase the likelihood of a host of negative outcomes, including dropping out of school and juvenile delinquency.