EducationWilliam J. Ford

School Policies, Procedures Hurt Girls of Color: Report

Two agencies created a guide that stresses schools must decrease suspensions, eliminate dress codes during the coronavirus pandemic and improve overall school climate for girls of color, specifically Blacks and Latinas.

According to the document released Thursday by The Education Trust and National Women’s Law Center, it emphasizes students should be involved in the process to implement policies and procedures in a student code of conduct.

“What schools have been doing isn’t working,” Kayla Patrick, senior policy analyst for The Education Trust, said in an interview. “Suspensions and expulsions don’t help students to learn more or do better. It doesn’t create a better outcome for students.”

The report, titled “…and they cared: How to Create Better, Safer Learning Environments for Girls of Color,” presents some statistics on school suspensions from the 2015-16 school year.

About 14% of Black girls accounted for all students suspended during that year, but represented only 8% of students registered in school.

During that time frame, Black girls were more four times likely to be arrested in school compared to white students.

Patrick said it is the most recent year of data available from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

The document highlights policy changes that worked in the Chicago and Oakland school districts and the state of Massachusetts.

In the Oakland Unified School District, student discipline data by race and gender can be accessed online. The district’s school board in California also approved this year to cancel a $2.5 million contract with the police department and will use that money for student support services and a restorative justice program.

During the 2019-20 school year, Chicago school officials improved its policies on sexual harassment, consent and retaliation and outline how students and teachers should report sexual misconduct. The policy changes also accompanied a 20-person office to address Title IX complaints and sexual allegations against students.

State officials in Massachusetts passed a law in 2012 that required educators to use restorative justice or positive behavioral interventions to handle student discipline. The law went into effect in 2014.

Out-of-school suspensions in that state and both school systems all decreased from double digits in 2012 and 2013 to single digits in 2018.

Patrick said the revised policies can eliminate cultural biases toward a girl’s speech, hairstyle and attire.

A few students from Oakland and Chicago are quoted in the report on how new procedures improved their school experience such as talking through conflicts.

“We both put our differences aside and put our guard down,” a Chicago high school student said. “We [were] actually talking and letting each other know how we felt at the moment, things was happening, and stuff. Yeah, it worked.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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