Saturday, April 13, 2013

Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis

Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis:
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Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis

While overly harsh school discipline policies can affect all students, they have disproportionately impacted students of color. In the past few years, numerous reports and studies have highlighted the racial disparities in school suspension and expulsion as well as their negative impact on student achievement.
One of the main contributors to the increase in student out-of-school time and decreased learning time is often state and district approaches to discipline. Local policymakers have a critical role to play in reshaping classroom, district and community discipline practices and policies to create safe and supportive learning environments that (1) reduce out-of-school time, (2) provide better supports to teachers and administrators to address disciplinary challenges, and (3) engage parents, students, and community-based organizations in the development and implementation of more educationally sound and equitable policies and practices.
NSBA, in collaboration with the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, has created a policy guide for school board members that will help them develop positive alternatives to out-of-school suspension. This policy guide provides information on the adverse impact that out of school suspension has on academic achievement, especially as it relates to students of color and those with disabilities. In addition, the guide provides examples of strategies that school boards have used to promote student growth through positive school discipline reform models.

Participating Organizations
Council of Urban Boards of Education
National Black Caucus of School Board Members 
National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members
National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members
National Opportunity to Learn Campaign
National School Boards Association
Opportunity Action
Solutions Not Suspensions

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A new report from UCLA's Civil Right Project is a one stop shop for all the school discipline data advocates or organizers needto fight the overuse of out-of-school suspensions. Out of School & Off Track uses data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools for the 2009-2010 academic year and breaks it down by district, race, gender, elementary/secondary school level, English language learners, and disability status.
In an article published in Phi Delta Kappan, Dan Chu from the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) details BSAC's long and ultimately successful campaign to develop a tool for students to give constructive feedback to their teachers.
OTL ally Linda Darling-Hammond was recently on the Melissa Harris-Perry to talk about the dangers of high-stakes testing and the threat they pose to public schools.
OTL allies are participating in a summit this weekend at the Association for Black Foundation Executives 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago. They will be discussing how policies and practices in Chicago public schools are creating systemic inequities for communities of color – and what foundations and advocates can do to address those inequities.

In the past five years, Arkansas has been deliberately and successfully moving toward a juvenile justice system that relies less on confinement and more on holistic, community-based approaches that effectively engage youth in constructive life choices. A new report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (a member of the Arkansas OTL Campaign) describes the state's success in juvenile justice reform to date and summarizes the steps still needed to best serve Arkansas youth and their communities.
In a school discipline discussion that's focused primarily on the plight of young men of color, girls are being overlooked and officials aren't developing the types of gender-specific policy supports that would prevent young women from being pushed down the school-to-prison pipeline.