Today, the Council of State Governments released a new report that helps to raise awareness about the importance of dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Entitled Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement, the report is the most in-depth of its kind, examining the academic, disciplinary, and juvenile court records of nearly a million Texas secondary school students. Sadly, it confirms the national trend that LDF has observed in its Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline initiative: educational inequity, excessive reliance upon harsh disciplinary practices, and extreme racial disparities in both.
According to the report’s authors ”when students are suspended or expelled, the likelihood that they will repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or become involved in the juvenile justice system increases significantly.” The study shows that students of color and students with disabilities were suspended and expelled at especially high rates. And African-American students were disproportionately likely to be disciplined for discretionary offenses such as ”insubordination,” while their white peers were more likely to be disciplined for mandatory offenses under state law – suggesting that misbehavior is too often in the eye of the beholder.
Calling the study “remarkable” for its scope and depth, Matt Cregor, of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, said that “The numbers are heartbreaking” and reflected patterns elsewhere. “What we’re seeing in Texas is no different than what we are seeing nationally.
“We’re not going to close the so-called achievement gap,” Cregor continued, “or end this graduation or dropout crisis until we take a hard look at the numbers like these and the practices and policies that created them.”
Read more about LDF’s efforts to Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline.