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Should Schools Suspend Suspensions?

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Suspensions have some unintended consequences. They disproportionately target minorities, and some students who get suspended are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, and become involved in the criminal justice system. But suspensions are viewed by some as a necessary tool to keep schools safe. It may not be great for the suspended student, but they say it’s more important to keep everyone ELSE at the school safe. Should suspensions be suspended?

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. https://learn.kqed.org/topics/23

According to a 2018 government report, schools have a discrimination problem when it comes to discipline. Black students get disciplined more harshly AND more often than their white classmates for the same kind of misbehavior. That’s why over the last few years, more than HALF of U.S. states have passed laws to REDUCE suspensions. Many are replacing out-of-school suspensions with in-school suspensions. Other schools are trying restorative justice, where the focus is on rehabilitation instead of punishment. However, there are still many schools who want the option to suspend students if necessary. It’s the “keep it local” approach, where each school decides what works best for its students.

What is the school to prison pipeline?

The school to prison pipeline is the cycle where Students who get suspended are more likely to drop out. And students who drop out are THREE TIMES more likely to get arrested. So, suspensions lead DIRECTLY to more people in the U.S. prison system.

What is restorative justice? 


Restorative justice focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment. For example, if a fight breaks out between two students, instead of separating them and swiftly issuing each one a suspension, restorative justice focuses on bringing them together to talk out their issues in a respectful, safe manner. They’re encouraged to accept responsibility for the harm they caused, while also reflecting on WHY they acted out.


Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities

11 Million Days Lost to Suspensions

School Suspensions Have Plunged: We Don’t Yet Know If That’s Good News

Racial disparities in school discipline are growing, federal data show

Black Girls Matter Report

Why Restorative Justice Is About More Than Reducing Suspensions

Suspension Rates in NYC Schools


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