Schools are swinging from “zero tolerance” to softer let’s-try-to-reason-with-’em approaches,” reports the New York Times.
“School safety did not improve” when zero tolerance led to more arrests, suspensions and expulsions, Steven C. Teske, a juvenile court judge in Georgia, told a Senate subcommittee in 2012. If anything, juvenile crime increased, the judge testified. “These kids lost one of the greatest protective buffers against delinquency — school connectedness.”
The “school to prison pipeline” is a problem, tweets Robert Pondiscio. “But who speaks for those who want safe & serious schools?”
It’s not clear how softer, talk-it-out discipline alternatives will affect “school safety and student outcomes,” write Matthew P. Steinberg and Johanna Lacoe. “A safe school climate is essential for student success.”
Recent evidence also shows that exposure to disruptive peers during elementary school worsens student achievement and later life outcomes, including high school performance, college enrollment, and earnings.
It’s important, they warn, to monitor “the effects of discipline reform on all students, not just those being punished.”