Strict discipline policies have caused the suspensions of millions of students yearly in the U.S., mostly for minor infractions—a practice that makes them more likely to fall behind, drop out and end up in the juvenile justice system, says a new report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a nonpartisan group. The center sought to reduce suspensions by highlighting schools that prevented transgressions in a range of ways, such as helping students get mental-health care quickly and feel more connected to caring adults, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. Department of Education has reported that the problem started even before kindergarten. More than 8,000 preschoolers were suspended in the 2011-2 school year: While black students represented 18 percent of preschoolers, they accounted for more than 42 percent of students suspended. The center’s 400-page School Discipline Consensus Report was drawn from many studies and 700 interviews with experts representing educators, police, court officials, parents and others. The three-year project cost more than $2 million, with the U.S. Justice Department funding roughly half of it. Center director Michael Thompson said a growing number of schools have “early-warning systems” to flag students who are floundering academically.