April Newsletter

Happy April! Spring has sprung; the cherry blossoms are out; and we're excited to share our latest work with you. This month's newsletter has a quick summary of the new law limiting pre-K suspensions and the latest news clips on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Bill limiting suspension of pre-K students unanimously passes the DC Council

The Pre-K Student Discipline Amendment Act of 2015 unanimously passed its final vote in the DC Council. Beginning next school year, the law will restrict the expulsion, or suspension lasting a full day, of any student of pre-k age. Such exclusions will only be allowed if a school administrator determines that the student has the student has willfully caused or attempted to cause bodily injury or has threatened serious bodily injury to another person. The law also prohibits any suspension of a student of pre-k age lasting longer than three days for a single incident. In addition, the law requires that schools collect student-level data on discipline that excludes students from school, along with demographic information like race and whether the student was classified as at-risk.

We hope that you will share this information with parents of young children in the District. The Every Student Every Day Coalition continues to advocate for legislation that addresses the many counter-productive suspensions of students in older grades.

New blog post from ESED Coalition Member Advancement Project

Today we published the fifth in our ongoing series of perspectives on the school-to-prison pipeline, written by ESED Steering Committee Members. Advancement Project Staff Attorney Kaitlin Banner writes, "In a school system that over relies on suspension or expulsion, LGBTQ youth are often swept in to the school-to-prison pipeline because of who they are, what they look like and how they express themselves. LGBTQ or GNC youth are frequently suspended or expelled because their sexual orientation or gender identity is seen as a disruption or a challenge to the school’s authority." Check out the whole post here: http://www.dcly.org/lgbtq_youth_the_school_to_prison_pipeline.


The Seattle Times - School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back

"You’re not going to see a call for zero-tolerance on discipline any more. That mindset has been fundamentally changed. But it’s true that there is always an enormous undertow. Mostly, around teachers’ sense that the best classrooms have no place for certain kinds of behavior. But on the question of suspensions, kids come as-is. There’s no pushing them out. They’re giving us what they can. If it’s not enough, it’s because we haven’t given the tools."

The Center for Public Integrity - Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts: Where does your state rank?

"The findings raise questions about what kind of incidents at school really merit police or court intervention, and provide fodder for a growing national debate over whether children, especially those in minority groups, are getting pushed into a so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” unnecessarily and unjustly. What’s happening in some schools seems almost directly at odds with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education."

PBS A radical approach to discipline that starts with listening to students

"Metropolitan is among a small but growing number of schools nationally that are turning the traditional approach to discipline on its head. Instead of trying to get students to leave their personal troubles at the door, these schools help kids cope with what often is a history of trauma. The idea is to catch problems before they become disciplinary issues resulting in suspensions or expulsions."

USA Today - Senate panel approves bipartisan K-12 education bill

"The Every Child Achieves Act would still require students to take standardized tests, including two per year in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and one during high school. It also would require students to take a total of three science tests between grades 3 and 12. However, the federal government could no longer use those test scores to punish 'failing' schools that do not meet achievement goals."

The Wall Street Journal - Letters: Suspension, Restorative Justice and Productive Schools

"Schools using restorative justice as an alternative to school suspension and other “zero tolerance” practices have been getting better results with their students. Once it began using restorative discipline, Ed White Middle School in San Antonio was ranked in the top 25% of schools in Texas for improved progress based on increases in the number of students passing the state math and reading exams. When compared with schools with similar demographics, most of the school’s students are economically disadvantaged; it ranked number two in the state for improved student progress."

Buzzfeed - D.C. Schools Released Private Student Data For A Second Time

"Less than two months after exposing confidential information about students with disabilities on a public intranet, District of Columbia school administrators admitted this week that they also inadvertently released sensitive information about students to BuzzFeed News."

The New York Times - Where Are the Teachers of Color?

"Across the country, government estimates show that minority students have become a majority in public schools. Yet the proportion of teachers who are racial minorities has not kept up: More than 80 percent of teachers are white."

The Huffington Post - As Awareness of the School-to-Prison Pipeline Rises, Some Schools Rethink the Role of Police

"Traditionally, police stepped on school grounds to respond to emergencies, such as those involving threats or major acts of violence, or to provide security, such as at arrival and dismissal times and at special events. What's new is the growing trend of having police stationed in schools full-time. In other words, schools have become some officers' beat. And like traditional policing, many officers walk this beat armed."

PBS - Justice Department Probes Another “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

"In Texas, failure to attend school, or truancy, is a criminal offense punishable by fines up to $500, plus court costs. Judges also have wide discretion in levying additional penalties. They can order children to attend counseling or perform community service, or even wear an ankle monitor or drop out of school entirely."

Thanks for working with us!

We're very excited about the Education Committee's continued interest in school discipline issues and think that the folks on this list can make a big impact on how the Council thinks about the issue. We'll let you know about future opportunities to weigh in and help tip the balance towards more positive school discipline. In the meantime, we hope that you'll read the articles above and share whichever one interests you the most on Twitter and Facebook. Let's keep raising the profile of efforts to close the school-to-prison pipeline.

In solidarity,

The Every Student Every Day Coalition Steering Committee

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