NEA and Partners Promote Restorative Justice in Schools
“Educators cannot stand by as tens of thousands of African-American, Latino, and other students get pushed out of school for minor disciplinary infractions, said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, who on Friday helped release a new toolkit that aims to end the “school-to-prison pipeline” through the use of restorative policies and practices.
“Far too many of our most vulnerable students are excluded from class for minor, non-violent behavior,” cautions Van Roekel, “putting them at great risk for academic failure and an unnecessary journey down the school-to-prison pipeline. And far too many educators lack the support and resources to meet their students’ developmental needs.”
The racial disparities start at a shockingly early age. According to a new U.S. Education Department study,Black 4- and 5-year-old students account for almost half of the preschoolers suspended more than once from school, even though they make up just 18 percent of preschool students. Overall, federal data shows that Black students of all ages are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than White students.
The consequences are huge: Even a single suspension greatly increases the odds of students repeating a grade, dropping out of school, and ending up in the criminal justice system. What’s more, a closer look at the data shows that students of color, as well as LGBT youth and children with disabilities, are more likely to be suspended, expelled, or arrested for behaviors that go undisciplined in their White peers. Research also shows that White students are more likely to be suspended or expelled for “observable” offenses, like fighting or drug possession, while Black students are much more likely to be disciplined for less objective offenses, like “disrespect.””
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