Government Offers Guidelines to End ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’
The Obama administration on Wednesday issued new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students are punished for violating school rules after data found minorities were more likely to face disciplinary action or arrest.
The guidelines, which came from the Justice and Education departments, called for improving school environments by training staff, engaging families and teaching students how to resolve conflicts. They also urged schools to understand their obligations under civil rights laws, and outlined a host of federal resources regarding school discipline.
Civil rights advocates have long said that a “school-to-prison pipeline” stems from overly zealous school discipline policies targeting black and Hispanic students that pull them out of school and into the court system.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the problem is frequently the result of well-intentioned “zero-tolerance” policies that too often inject the criminal-justice system into the resolution of problems. Zero-tolerance policies, which became popular in the 1990s, often spell out uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or carrying a weapon. Violators can lose classroom time or become saddled with a criminal record for these and other offenses.