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Duncan Urges Schools to Find Alternatives to Incarceration for Non-Violent Students

Duncan Urges Schools to Find Alternatives to Incarceration for Non-Violent StudentsDuncan Urges Schools to Find Alternatives to Incarceration for Non-Violent Students

"We had met the enemy, and it was us," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expected to say in a speech at the National Press Club that will address fixing the school-to-prison pipeline that results in the reference of a quarter of a million students to police per year.

Duncan is referring to his time spent as head of the Chicago Public School system, when he sought to reduce the number of students going to jail and surprisingly discovered it was schools who were putting them there, not the streets, according to U.S. News. The enemy, then, to the city's own children was the schools itself.

" Duncan is slated to urge states and local school districts to find paths other than incarceration for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, something that the department says could save upwards of $15 billion each year. Then, using that savings, increase the pay for teachers working in the country's highest-need schools," the article said.

Though the federal government cannot force state or local governments to adopt changes to disciplinary tactics in schools, Duncan is not giving up on the fight to encourage schools to be more creative in discipline for the benefit of all children.

Certainly, statistics paint a sobering picture on how too much heavy-handed discipline negatively effects students. According to the article, two-thirds of all state prisoners are highs school dropouts.

Even worse, " African-American male between the ages of 20 and 24 without a high school diploma or GED has a higher chance of being imprisoned than of being employed."

"Duncan's announcement Wednesday comes as many under-resourced schools are relying more on police rather than teachers and administrators to maintain discipline, and a growing number of districts are employing school resource officers to patrol hallways," the article said.

Earlier this week, Seattle Public Schools made national news for the approval of a year-long ban on suspensions for many select non-violent crimes, a representation of one of the ways schools are taking the search for alternatives to interfering-disciplinary acts seriously.

Read more here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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