Fewer Suspensions Won't Fix Bigger Issues

Fewer Suspensions Won't Fix Bigger Issues
Mark Stockwell/The Sun Chronicle via AP

Over the past thirty years, the school discipline pendulum has swung wildly from one extreme to the other, as policymakers have struggled to solve an inherently difficult problem. Today, the “zero tolerance” policies that were all the rage at the end of the last century are generally viewed as heavy-handed and blunt, removing administrator discretion and treating many different kinds of offenses as equally injurious. Yet as the tide of elite—and education reform—opinion has turned against over-suspension, the instinctive response of policymakers has once again been to tie the hands of teachers, principals, and local officials, this time with the explicit goal of reducing the use of suspensions, especially for traditionally disadvantaged groups.

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