(Washington, DC) — LDF commends Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder on their announcement of the “Supportive School Discipline Initiative”. This is a collaboration between the Department of Education and Department of Justice is designed to address the “School-to-Prison Pipeline.”
The stated goals of the initiative are to build consensus for action among federal, state and local education and justice stakeholders; collaborate on research and data collection that may be needed to inform this work; develop guidance to ensure that school discipline policies and practices comply with the nation’s civil rights laws and to promote positive disciplinary options to both keep kids in school and improve the climate for learning; and promote awareness and knowledge about evidence-based and promising policies and practices among state judicial and education leadership.
“LDF and other civil rights and advocacy groups have called for federal agencies to play a leadership role in reducing inappropriate and exclusionary discipline techniques. Today’s announcement gives us renewed hope that we can address this problem and fulfill the promise of quality, inclusive education heralded in Brown v. Board of Education,” said John Payton, LDF’s President and Director Counsel.
“Research has shown that exclusionary discipline policies lead to racial disparities, undermine students’ academic achievement, and make it more likely that they will end up behind bars. LDF welcomes the active involvement of federal agencies in our long-fought battle to dismantle this ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline,’” said Damon Hewitt, Director of LDF’s Education Practice.
The “School-to-Prison Pipeline” deprives children of meaningful opportunities for education, future employment, and participation in our democracy. LDF recognizes the devastating affects of criminalizing rather than educating children and youth, and is dedicated to reversing the pipeline. In partnership with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a nationwide, multi-stakeholder coalition that includes youth- and parent-led community organizations, LDF has introduced and proposed a number of groundbreaking programs and advocacy efforts aimed at promoting educational opportunity instead of exclusion and incarceration.