This week is the National Week of Action to End School Pushout. Unlike the term “dropout,” which is generally due to a decision or behavior on the part of the student, “school pushout” refers to the way zero-tolerance school discipline can push students out of school through suspensions, expulsions, and even arrests for minor misbehaviors.
The campaign to end school pushouts began out of a need to retain at-risk students in schools rather than have them end up in detention facilities. Statistics show that students who are minorities or have disabilities are suspended, expelled or have other disciplinary action taken against them at a higher rate than other students. These students are more likely to ultimately leave the schools after multiple disciplinary actions, often either by falling behind academically to the point they can’t catch up, or by entering the juvenile justice system.
Started by the Dignity in Schools (DSC) Coalition, the Week of Action aims to reduce the number of students pushed out of school systems by disciplinary action. The theme for this year’s week of action is “Educate Students, Stop Arrests.”
According to a Washington Post article on racial disparities in school discipline, “The Civil Rights Data Collection, which contains detailed information for the 2015-2016 school year on more than 96,000 public schools, offers more evidence that certain young people — including black, Hispanic male and American Indian students — face harsher discipline than their white counterparts.” This tendency toward harsher discipline action against minority students leads them to higher drop-out rates and higher rates of imprisonment.
The DSC advocates for efforts such as “counselors not cops,” whereby schools replace constant police presence with an increase in staff to support students’ emotional needs. They also strongly support the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed during the Obama administration in order to make school climate and supportive practices key elements of a school’s success rating.
During this week of action to end school pushouts, DSC has organized events all over the country. “Under the banner of ‘Educate Students, Stop Arrests.’ local and community-based organizations will hold rallies, teach-ins, community forums, unveil murals, lead marches and more; taking a stand against punitive, zero-tolerance discipline policies and calling for the end of the regular presence of police officers in schools.” Their National Event, a community forum and resource fair, will take place October 26th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Wondering what you can do during this week of action? You can check out this interactive map to find events near you. You can also follow the conversation on social media through the hashtags #DSCWoA2019 #EducateStudentsStopArrests.