Suspension is an adult choice with disastrous consequences

A new study out from the CSG Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, has released an humongous statewide study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students, followed for at least six years. This is a major, major study with unprecedented depth and breadth.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study on How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

This study is staggering, and not just for its documentation of the “prison pipeline” that suspension policies create. Not even for the finding that when students are suspended or expelled, the likelihood that they will repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or become involved in the juvenile justice system increases significantly. Or even that African-American students and children with particular educational disabilities who qualify for special education were suspended and expelled at especially high rates.

All those sobering facts pale in comparison to the finding that as the Washington Post story says, “Here’s one myth of school debunked: Harsh discipline is not always a reflection of the students in a particular school. It can be driven by those in charge. In a study of nearly a million Texas children described as an unprecedented look at discipline, researchers found that nearly identical schools suspended and expelled students at very different rates.

This study shows that suspension isn’t something that is “forced” on schools who have to deal with out-of-control kids and bad communities.

So this is a choice. A choice adults make that has disastrous consequences for children and society. And now, a completely unjustified choice.