Clogging the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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When the Ferguson Commission released its recommendations to Mo. Governor Jay Nixon as well as the public earlier this fall, one of the key pieces included reforming school discipline policies.

Several points were highlighted as a part of this recommendation including:

  • Eliminate the option for out- of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade.
  • Update school discipline policies to align with positive youth development and restorative justice frameworks.
  • Mandate training for school personnel and partnering community-based organizations on the needs and legal and constitutional rights of students, as well as resources available for students.

RELATED: Read the full Ferguson Commission recommendation on school discipline

 

A9: Effective partnerships btwn community-based organizations and schools can help holistically address student needs #AmGradSTL

— Wyman Center (@WymanCenter) October 22, 2015

Meeting the needs of the whole child is so important. #AmGradSTLhttps://t.co/sEeGyjpoNA

— Allison (@brewyahs) October 22, 2015


While there’s not a perfect solution to stopping the “school to prison” pipeline or combatting further suspensions, restorative justice has continued to be a key piece of the puzzle in recommendations toward these issues.

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As previously mentioned, more training opportunities for teachers could help in ensuring they have better understanding and communication with students when these situations arise.

Another resolution presented was having more support services and resources – i.e. counselors, social workers, etc. – more readily available for students, which have become constrained in recent years due to school districts’ budgets.

Studies show that counseling programs can boost student achievement, self-esteem, and help students overcome learning barriers. (NEA Today)

Between all of the solutions and recommendations, one thing remains clear – our region has much work ahead to help more students achieve and succeed.

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