The release of the new Race for Results report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has prompted a lot of conversation about race, opportunity, and the systemic barriers that prevent all of our kids from having the same chance at a bright future.
A new report released by the federal Department of Education points out just one of those systemic barriers that disproportionately impacts children and youth of color – harsh school discipline policies, often referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Access to quality education is an essential piece of opportunity. Since Columbine, however, policies have been adopted across the country that actually push children out of schools and into the court system. Studies have shown that while the increasing use of law enforcement at schools and the prevalence of zero-tolerance policies have not improved safety at school, they have contributed to more students becoming disengaged and involved in the court system.
When a student is suspended, they become less likely to graduate on time and more likely to repeat a grade, drop out without earning a diploma, and become involved with the juvenile justice system.
In Nebraska, our data on the prevalence of the school-to-prison pipeline is still limited. But the data we do have shows that we have plenty of work to do, especially for our youth of color.
Other states have begun to take action to undo harmful school discipline policies. If we want to make sure that ALL of our state’s children have access to education and opportunity, Nebraska will need to do the same.