June 8, 2017

Janelle T. Scott, (510) 642-4740, jtscott@berkeley.edu
Michele S. Moses, (303) 492-8280, michele.moses@colorado.edu
Kara S. Finnigan, (585) 275-9942, kfinnigan@warner.rochester.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

New policy brief highlights how attempts to achieve "law and order" unfairly target students of color

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 6, 2017) — A new policy brief produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) explores how zero-tolerance discipline policies and other injustices inflict violence on students of color. The authors find that systematic violence and disparate school discipline policies hinder equitable, just, and safe schooling. The brief closely examines the relationship between violence and education policy, and provides an alternative set of state and local policies to create more just and safe environments in schools and communities.

The brief, Law and Order in School and Society: How Discipline and Policing Policies Harm Students of Color, and What We Can Do about It, was authored by Janelle Scott, Michele S. Moses, Kara S. Finnigan, Tina Trujillo, and Darrell D. Jackson. The brief was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the authors, school contexts and broader social policies set up conditions in which young people of color experience violence in regularized, systematic, and destructive ways. Using critical race theory as a lens, the authors raise awareness that these policies do not happen in isolation, but are part of larger social inequalities.

To address these challenges, the authors make the following recommendations to local leaders:

  1. School districts and municipalities should develop systematic communication and planning on polices on policing, housing, transportation, and racial disparity;
  2. Funds currently allocated to school resource officers should be redirected to improve student engagement and social connectivity, advanced and enrichment courses, socio-emotional learning curricula, and high-quality extracurricular activities;
  3. Invest in the creation or support of racially and socioeconomically integrated schools; and
  4. Integrate community-based policing programs with school-based restorative justice initiatives.

Recommended policy changes for state leaders include:

  1. Requiring teachers, school leaders, and all security staff to receive intensive preparation, trauma-informed professional development, and ongoing training on the causes of, and remedies for, racial inequality within and outside of school;
  2. Requiring the reporting of in-school and out-of- school suspensions and expulsions for traditional public schools and charter schools, disaggregated by race and gender;
  3. Developing multiple measures of schools' effectiveness in place of narrowly focused test-based measures; and
  4. Creating teacher-police collaborative networks and invest in "grow your own" teacher preparation programs that help to develop, support, and retain teachers of color and teachers committed to equitable educational practices.

According to the authors, in today's education policy context, states have an essential role to play in addressing school discipline, measures of schools' effectiveness, and preparing and supporting teachers.

In their conclusion, the authors suggest that by departing from narrowly focused, punitive strategies, policymakers at all levels can design and support policies to address the opportunity gaps that children of color and low-income families face inside and outside of school.

Find the policy brief on the web:

The brief can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/