Eliminate Zero Tolerance Policies in School

The problem: Nationwide, students of color experience rates of punishments in school – ranging from office referrals to corporal punishment, suspension, and expulsion – that far exceed their numbers in the school population or the share of offenses they commit.

The Facts:

  • Nationwide, African Americans are arrested at 2.1 times the rate of white youth. For violent crimes, African Americans are arrested at 3.5 times the rate of white youth.
  • Largely as a result of zero tolerance policies, African American public students are suspended three times more than their white counterparts.
  • Students who have been suspended from school are three times more likely to drop out than those who have never been suspended.
  • Students who drop out of school are three times more likely to be incarcerated.

Largely as a result of zero tolerance policies, African American public students are suspended three times more than their white counterparts.

How Do We Eliminate Zero Tolerance Policies?

The Solution: By reviewing the zero tolerance policies we can educate administrators, teachers, and community members about their impact. Awareness will create the need for comprehensive solutions to the need for a safe and conducive learning environment for all children.

The Problem: Nationwide, students of color experience rates of punishments in school that far ex- ceed their numbers in the school population or the share of offenses they commit.

Why is it important to eliminate zero tolerance policies?

Zero tolerance policies are intended to improve behavior in an effort to provide a safe learning en- vironment for students. Unfortunately, the nature of these policies punishes children for petty crimes, and disproportionately affects children of color. Not all students of these are guaranteed a safe and conducive learning environment. Furthermore, there is no evidence that zero tolerance policies have been effective in changing behavior and making school safer.

How can reforming school discipline policies improve the safety of all students?

Current zero tolerance policies disproportionately affect students of color. These children are not afforded the same learning environment as their white peers. By eliminating zero tolerance policies, to be replaced with comprehensive solutions, we can ensure that all children are safe and learning while at school.

— Call to Action –

In an effort to reverse current national ineffective discipline policies, the NAACP calls on all units to review the discipline policies in their community, focusing on zero tolerance policies. Only through creating awareness about these harsh policies can community members come together to create solutions that will provide a safe and conducive learning environment for all students.

— Call to Action Components —

Review the Discipline Policies – The NAACP units must actively review the discipline policies in their communities. Units may choose to form a specialized committee or use their standing edu- cation committee. Form a commission of stakeholders (parents, university researchers, students, teachers etc) to review a school or district’s discipline policy – especially if it is a zero-tolerance policy – and compare it to more beneficial policies from around the country.

Create Change Amongst School Administrators – In order for change to occur, you will need school administrators to understand how these policies are ineffective at achieving a safe and conducive environment for all students. School Leader Interventions are strategies which educate and sensitize principals individually or collectively to the impacts of discipline policies and make them aware of alternative discipline methods that do not exclude students from school.

Report the Disparities – By compiling a report that highlights the disparate impact of discipline policies on students of color and poor students in a school or district you can highlight the problems with the policies. Feel free to share these with school administrators, teachers, parents, and com- munity leaders. These points will make great talking points for letters to the editor as well.

Posted in education.