States Push for Harsher School Discipline Practices to Address Student Misbehavior


"It's a very short-term measure, and it's not thinking about how we're actually building safe and healthy schools."

That's the opinion of Thalia Gonzalez, a professor at the University of California College of the Law in San Francisco, who tracks bills in a number of states that make it easier to discipline students and tougher for younger kids.

The bills are being pushed by teachers who say it's safer to give kids more freedom, but Gonzalez tells NPR that the argument "isn't matching safety with healthy school communities."

"We have spent so much time moving past punishment and really thinking about what is in the best interests of educating our children," she says.

"And we have forgotten in this moment, in this post-COVID reality, or, if you can call it that, where our young people, our teachers are sitting at the front lines in these places of tension, that we actually have to promote and build those positive school climates."

She points to a recent study that found Black boys in preschool are suspended more than once, and that the risk of missing 15 days of school for a suspension means you're seven times more likely to drop out, "but that means that you will have less access to jobs

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