ACLU Speaks Out Against School "Pushout"

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
December 3, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU of Louisiana
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Students need education, not punishment


NEW ORLEANS – “School pushout” describes what happens when certain students are deprived of the education and opportunities that all students deserve. The ACLU of Louisiana has signed on to a national resolution for ending school pushout as part of a national coalition of advocates, organizers, youth, parents, and educators committed to ensuring fairness and equality in all schools in the United States.

The resolution has two goals. First, it confronts the many factors that contribute to pushing youth out of schools, such as harmful disciplinary practices, inadequate curriculum, and lack of parent and family participation in decision-making. Second, it provides targeted recommendations for school boards and other decision-makers, to promote positive school climates and alternative approaches to discipline.

“There is no evidence that harsh discipline in schools helps the school system or the children,” says ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman. “Research suggests that overuse of suspensions and expulsions may actually increase the likelihood of later criminal conduct.”

The ACLU receives complaints from around the country that children as young as five are being led of out of classrooms in handcuffs for throwing temper tantrums. Resources needed to improve classrooms are being used for security against kindergarteners. The schools that need resources such as textbooks and libraries are the ones spending millions of dollars for security personnel. The result is that students are pushed out of schools and left without educations and skills, when education and skills are what they need to succeed.

School pushout disproportionately affects minority and low-income students, LGBT students, immigrant students, those with special needs, and others who are vulnerable and most in need of services. Minority students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. Esman continued, “All our students need and deserve support so that they can remain in school and become productive adults. Treating children like criminals perpetuates the problems that schools should resolve. We owe it to our children, and to our future, to do better.”

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