the School To Prison Pipeline
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
Decades of research
have shown that exclusionary discipline is not the best way for
schools to handle misbehavior. Suspensions and expulsions do not
lead to improved student behavior. In fact, these exclusionary discipline
approaches tend to make behaviors worse and tremendously increase
the likelihood that the student will end up in the criminal justice
black students in the US tend to be disciplined with these types
of approaches more than any other sub group. While only 16% of school
suspensions for African American students are for fighting, 82%
are for subordination. Many feel the high suspension rate for subordination
may in fact be blamed on cultural differences.
other factors that predict school suspension are gender, low socioeconomic
status and special education classification. Having an ED or BD
special ed label greatly increases the likelihood of suspension,
despite federal laws which are supposed to prohibit this. The more
of these criteria met by a student, the more likely they are to
experience suspension during their schooling. A black male, living
in poverty with some type of disability has a 66% chance of being
suspended from school.
multilevel supports for behavioral issues, just as they do for academic
for at risk of being suspended or expelled should be targeted for
Black male students
need training in how to appropriately respond to unfair treatment.
and supportive "In School Suspension" programs should
be developed as an alternative to exclusionary approaches. Traditionally,
ISS rooms have been staffed by untrained persons and viewed more
as a time-out room or baby-sitting room. Schools need to use these
programs as an effective way to make a positive change in students
with behavior problems.
(2014) Symposium: The Role of School Psychologists in Dismantling
the School to Prison Pipeline. Early Warning Signs, Effects of Repeated
Exclusionary Discipline on Juvenile Justice Involvement, Stability
of Discipline Referrals Over Time. American Psychological Association
Annual Conference, Aug 7, 2014. Washington, DC
Dr J. Blake, TX A&M Univ.; Dr R Skiba, Indiana Univ.; Dr P.
Fenning, Loyola Univ; Dr L. Raffaele-Mendez, Univ of South Florida
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and
author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A
Student's Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating
the High School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer
of the Layered Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked
with parents and educators around the world to better structure
schools to make brain-friendly environments. In addition, her
work has been used by the Boeing Corporation, Family Circle Magazine,
the Washington Post, and ABC television.
her: Kathie (at) brains.org