Blog post

Graduation for some, criminal justice for others: Annette Fuentes writes for the The Providence Journal

Morgan Buck18 May 2011

Just in time for graduation season, Annette Fuentes, author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse, expands her harsh critique of the 'zero-tolerence' policies that have caused an "epidemic of suspensions for behaviors that are often minor transgressions." Published in The Providence Journal on Tuesday, she argues that "zero-tolerance discipline and the suspension epidemic are like a public-health threat":

Each time a student is excluded from the classroom, it puts his or her education in suspension, too, and it increases the likelihood that the student will drop out.

Education researchers have found that suspensions early in a child's academic career, even as young as elementary school, are a predictor of dropping out by the 10th grade.

Suspensions lead to the school-to-prison pipeline. The harsh discipline of zero-tolerance policies puts the most vulnerable kids, disproportionately black and Latino students, at greatest risk of dropping out of school. And from there, excluded from education and with limited prospects, they are at greater risk of falling into jail.

Zero-tolerance discipline and the suspension epidemic are like a public-health threat, so it's no wonder that the American Psychological Association came out strongly against these harsh practices in public schools several years ago. The group called for a new approach to creating safe schools in a healthy learning environment.

Visit The Providence Journal to read the article in full.