Research is continually proving that exclusionary discipline, like suspensions and expulsions, may be detrimental to the very student they’re trying to help. In an attempt to limit the negative consequences, Texas has passed a law that prohibits schools from using these forms of discipline except in extreme cases. And, it’s working.
The law focuses on younger children, specifically kindergarten through second grade. Students cannot be suspended or expelled unless there are extreme circumstances involved like a weapon, drugs or alcohol. According to a report released on Wednesday by Texas Advocacy group Texans Care for Children, the law is working. Texas public schools had reported more than 101,000 students in pre-kindergarten to second grade were suspended during the 2015-16 school year. That number fell by 31% to 70,197 in the 2017-18 school year.
While this decrease is a step in the right direction, the report also shows certain groups of children — black students, foster care students, and special education students — experienced exclusionary discipline more than others. This finding is congruent with larger systemic issues throughout education on a national level, as Parentology reported earlier this year.
The Texas school suspension law is making a positive impact by keeping kids in the classroom. Based on the US Commission on Civil Rights report earlier this year, exclusionary discipline is a key factor in the “school to prison pipeline.” Students removed from classrooms are more likely to be retained a grade, drop out of school or enter the juvenile justice system.
While the initial results are promising, many believe there’s still room for improvement. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who wrote the bill as a state senator, said in a statement, “I’m glad there has been progress — but it’s not nearly enough and it’s not what the law requires. The Legislature voted to end these suspensions because they are ineffective and hinder the development of children.”