by Emily Mann and Deborah Abelman, The Wheelock Blog (February 19, 2014)
Several weeks ago, the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice issued a series of guidelines to address growing evidence and concern over the disproportionate use of school disciplinary techniques. The announcement of the new guidelines addressed long standing policies and practices of educational exclusion, such as suspension and expulsion, along with zero tolerance practices. The announcement acknowledged that the implementation of these reactive and punitive policies and practices were disseminated at differential rates for both minority youth and children with disabilities.
Above and beyond the disproportional use of reactive punishment, these practices are not associated with success. Children who are frequently disciplined and/or who spend time in school environments where there are ongoing negative disciplinary measures are more likely to be retained at grade level and/or drop out of school. This is economically and socially costly and is antithetical to a model of education that is rooted in a child’s ability to be present in class and ready to learn.
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