Sunday, June 16, 2024

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The school-to-prison pipeline discussion begun last month continues Wednesday with Daniel J. Losen’s free talk on “Closing the School Discipline Gap.”

Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California at Los Angeles and editor of a book about the issue published in December, will speak at Lesley University’s 19th Annual June Fox Lecture, bringing solutions from school districts nationwide.

The March 23 talk by Jay Blitzman, a judge in the Middlesex Juvenile Court, looked at “Dismantling the Cambridge School to Prison Pipeline” and heard recommendations from students, family members, law enforcement, teachers and administrators and other professionals collected as part of the Lowell-based – but potentially Cambridge-bound – Juvenile Court Restorative Justice Diversion Program.

Two-thirds of suspensions in Massachusetts public schools in 2013-14 were for nonviolent, non-criminal, non-drug offenses, NeighborMedia blogger Mark Jaquith said in a report from Blitzman’s talk, and people at the Main Library talk learned Cambridge wasn’t immune to the problem.

As the organizers of Losen’s talk at Lesley University put it:

In urban school districts across the country, overwhelmed teachers are sending more students to the principal’s office, and more principals are punishing students with out-of-school suspensions. Losen’s research shows an unintended consequence: higher suspension rates for students of color and those with disabilities.

Losen’s center offers online resources that sort suspension data by factors such as race and disability. Its research finds that more schools are exploring less punitive ways to manage student behavior, organizers said, showing “that improving relationships with students pays off in dramatically reduced discipline referrals, and ultimately, in the number of suspensions.”

“Dan Losen’s work at the Civil Rights Project at UCLA serves as a stark reminder of the systematic impact of bias toward our youngest and most vulnerable children,” said Jack Gillette, dean of Lesley’s Graduate School of Education. “The sheer numbers of children of color who are subject to excessive discipline and ultimately funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline is in itself a form of state-sanctioned neglect. Armed with proper data, some districts have acted and made a difference. My hope is all who attend this year’s lecture will join in extending that difference.”

The lecture will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lesley University’s second floor University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square. It is free and open to the public. Information is here.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.

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Homepage image: From the ACLU of Southern California.