Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Rethinking ‘Zero Tolerance’

The American Prospect

Tremendous piece—features a Philadelphia school…

“The first federal measure to implement ‘zero tolerance’ in schools was the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 … Districts expanded on Congress’s obligatory punishments to include possession of drugs and alcohol; many began to require one- or ten-day suspensions for minor offenses like cursing or lying to an administrator. The suspension rate soared 87 percent between 1973 and 2006 … Even as most school districts across the country were cracking down in the mid-1990s, a different approach was being tried in Minnesota … As Minnesota’s pilots showed promising results, social-justice groups started pushing for restorative justice … Restorative-justice programs don’t cost a lot to implement … but they do require schools to have sufficient staff. The support staff on which the programs rely – counselors, assistant principals, restorative-justice coordinators – are often the first to go when budget cuts hit.”


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