Giving Compass’ Take:
• After the school shootings in Parkland, Fla., the Trump administration re-evaluated school discipline guidance policies implemented during the Obama administration. The 2014 guidance focused on constructive interventions rather than harsher punishments.
• If the administration does call for more stringent school discipline policies, will schools abide by these? Should youth voice be incorporated into these decisions?
• The RAND Corporation recently surveyed people to understand both sides of the gun violence debate and how they felt about the policies pertaining to this issue.
The February 14 Parkland shooting that killed 17 people has led to a slew of policy proposals, including the headline-grabbing call from President Trump and others for laws that would arm educators with guns. There have also been appeals for schools to increase the number of armed law-enforcement officers on campus and to fortify their buildings. Trump says he wants schools to be as secure as airports.
One of the questions on the table: school discipline. Do schools need to punish unruly children earlier on and more harshly, in the hopes that doing so prevents larger, more violent transgressions later? In 2014, the Obama administration released guidance that encouraged schools to emphasize “constructive interventions”—victim-offender mediation, for example, or preventative classroom-management strategies—rather than more punitive approaches.
After Parkland, Trump announced the creation of a school-safety commission. One of its specific tasks is to review the Obama administration’s 2014 guidance and decide whether it ought to be rescinded. The goal of the 2014 guidance was to eliminate race-based discrimination in discipline practices: Federal data had long shown that students of color were suspended at disproportionately high rates despite evidence suggesting that such students are no more likely to misbehave than are their white peers.
Critics, however, decried the new rules as federal overreach, with some concluding that the policy—which threatens to withhold funding for schools that fail to comply with it—has hampered educators’ ability to ensure their schools are safe and orderly. Some studies have found a correlation between discipline reform and increased rates of reported disorder, while others have associated it with a decline in academic performance for never-suspended students.
Read the full article about school safety by Alia Wong at The Atlantic
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