Zero Tolerance and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Last Updated: April 27, 2011

This article appeared in the April 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the practice of law enforcement-issued citations in public schools for “disturbing class,” which is the largest category of ticketed offenses in schools. S.B. 1116 would also require schools to consider a student’s disciplinary history before imposing exclusionary punishments including suspensions or expulsions. Two recent reports by advocacy organizations in the state have highlighted both the number of students ticketed for nonviolent offenses and the number of children under 11 who have been charged by law enforcement for various school violations.

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Text of the legislation:

NAACP Report: Misplaced Priorities

An NAACP report released earlier this month highlights the trend of increased spending on incarceration, prison construction, and related programming and calls for a commitment on the part of states to reduce prison rates and invest the resulting savings in education. Among the recommendations found in Misplaced Priorities are calls for alternative and diversionary programs for at-risk youth to reduce the likelihood of contact with the criminal justice system.

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Read the report here:

Education Week's Editorial on Zero Tolerance Policies

Earlier this month Education Week featured an editorial calling for an end to zero tolerance policies written by the president of The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation, which is funding grassroots efforts to improve school discipline practices in a number of states through its Just and Fair Schools fund.

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Read more from the April 2011 Rural Policy Matters.