Educators for Excellence (E4E) members are speaking out in defense of federal guidance on school discipline, which they say is an important resource for reducing discipline disparities in the classroom and improving school climate.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently decided to review the 2014 guidance, which was issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice to support public schools in administering discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
In early December, nearly two dozen organizations across the country, including PIE Network partners Center for American Progress, E4E, Stand for Children, and The Education Trust, united to urge the U.S. Department of Education to keep this guidance.
In a letter sent to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the organizations stated that “This federal guidance remains essential for holding our school systems accountable at the local level and for keeping this issue at the center of the national dialogue so that communities can work together to create solutions that bring an end to racial and discipline disparities and provide support so that all students can succeed in our nation.”
E4E members and Evan Stone, E4E co-founder and co-CEO, also provided written and in-person testimony for a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing. In their testimony, educators from across the country shared how the guidance is an important factor in reducing classroom discipline disparities, in addition to their insights into using restorative practices and supporting students affected by trauma.
“The school discipline guidance from the Department of Education has made these restorative practices more accessible for teachers,” said E4E member Tianitha Alston. “It encourages teachers to build relationships with their students and leverage those relationships to deal with behavior before using exclusionary discipline as a last resort.”
In a recent Education Post article, Evan Stone and Lillian Lowery, vice president for K-12 policy, research, and practice at The Education Trust, examined concerning disparities in suspension data, and highlighted examples of promising efforts to rethink exclusionary discipline practices.