Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 3.23.22 PMThe Obama administration is now urging schools to abandon overly zealous discipline policies that civil rights advocates have long said lead to a school-to-prison pipeline that discriminates against minority students. School districts must now reexamine their discipline policies to ensure fairness and equity in student discipline. Read article from The Washington Post Holder, Duncan announce national guidelines on school discipline  and MSNBC.

In a recent study by the Civil Rights Project, one of the findings concludes that in American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled. It has been reported that minority students were disproportionately arrested, suspended and expelled for minor, nonviolent offenses.

School leaders must have a vision on what a positive school environment looks like, sounds like and feels like. A positive school environment has behavioral systems in place, a purposeful curriculum, engaging instruction, supportive and nurturing staff, parental and community supports. A school leader must hold the curriculum, instruction and staff constant. Parental supports are not always in their control but a true leader will have other mechanisms in place to offer support. It is a tall order, but it can be done.

Here are some resources that can be used to begin the examination of the behavior and academic systems in your school. Click on the links to view resources.

Angela Alexander, educator, lover of learning