School Discipline Reform: Hard Lessons from the Front Lines
In recent years, the school discipline pendulum has swung wildly, as policymakers, opinion-shapers, and interest groups have struggled over an inherently difficult problem. Today, the “zero tolerance” policies that were popular at the end of the last century are widely viewed as unfair, heavy-handed, even discriminatory. Yet as the tide of opinion has turned against the heavy use of school suspensions, many policies have tended once again to tie the hands of teachers and principals, this time with the explicit goal of reducing the use of “exclusionary discipline,” especially for disadvantaged groups.
To what extent are such policies actually altering school practice—and are those alterations doing good or harm? Are new approaches such as “restorative justice” having the intended effect? What are the pros and cons of limiting—even banning—suspensions for certain forms of misconduct? Are schools following the new mandates? Are racial disparities in discipline decreasing? Is it possible to reduce suspensions without causing more school and classroom disruption?
Join us for a two-panel event on January 25 that will examine how to handle student misbehavior. The first panel will feature Matthew P. Steinberg, author of The Academic and Behavioral Consequences of Discipline Policy Reform, and Abigail Gray, author of Discipline in Context: Suspension, Climate, and PBIS in the School District of Philadelphia, moderated by Fordham's SVP for Research, Amber Northern. A debate will follow, between Cami Anderson, former superintendent in Newark and founder of the Discipline Revolution Project; Kristen Harper, director for policy development at Child Trends; Laura Jimenez, director of standards and accountability at the Center for American Progress; and Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The panel will be moderated by Alia Wong, education editor and writer at The Atlantic. At the end, audience members will weigh in on the question, "Should districts ban out-of-school suspensions for low-level offenses?"
Follow along on Twitter using our handle, @educationgadfly and #DisciplineReform.
Amber M. Northern
Senior Vice President for Research
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Senior Research Investigator
Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania
Matthew P. Steinberg
Assistant Professor of Education Policy
University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Education Editor and Writer
Founder and Managing Partner
ThirdWay Solutions, The Discipline Revolution Project