As awareness of the existence and impact of the school-to-prison pipeline has increased in recent years, traditional discipline practices have been subject to much scrutiny. Students of color are being suspended and expelled from our nation’s schools at an alarmingly high rate. More than 25 percent of Chicago Public School students have been suspended at least once in their school careers. Despite the frequency with which traditional discipline procedures are utilized, there is no clear evidence that they make schools safer or have any lasting positive effect on student behavior.
Clear and convincing evidence shows a critical need to change the way in which schools manage student discipline. Research shows that exclusionary practices, such as suspension and expulsion:
- Have long-term negative effect on student achievement;
- Disproportionately impact students of color; and,
- Are associated with lower test scores, decreased graduation rates, and increased incarceration rates later in life.
In response to chilling statistics on the rates at which students of color, particularly African-American boys, are being suspended and expelled from our nation’s schools, community groups and advocates have embraced restorative justice as a powerful solution.