On Dec. 17, Unfinished Business posted an article written by Max Marchitello ’10M.Ed. titled “Congress Takes on the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” Marchitello discusses institutional discipline practices and the recent congressional hearing, which, “marked an important first step for Congress to address a crisis plaguing our country’s schools.”
In many public schools, pernicious exclusionary discipline practices such as zero tolerance policies are common place. Extreme disciplinary measures are becoming a far too common recourse for educators as students are suspended or expelled for minor infractions with ever-increasing frequency. These practices do little to deter violence or keep students safe; rather, they have the undesirable effect of impeding student achievement, pushing students to dropout, driving kids into the juvenile justice system and greatly increasing the likelihood of future incarceration.
While these draconian practices adversely impact all students, they are particularly harmful for students of color and students with disabilities who are disproportionately punished under these policies. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s recently released Civil Rights Data Collection, African-American students are 3.5 times more likely than their White peers to be suspended, and students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive more than one out-of-school suspension.