The Atlantic Philanthropies’ School Discipline Reform Portfolio

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

The Atlantic Philanthropies’ School Discipline Reform Portfolio

This report summarizes findings from a two-year evaluation of The Atlantic Philanthropies’ school discipline reform portfolio. The portfolio, which ran from late 2009 to 2016 and invested over $47 million dollars in 57 grants to 38 different grantees, was created to improve educational outcomes for students by reducing the number of zero tolerance suspensions, expulsions, and arrests in schools, particularly for children of color, and enhancing the use of positive disciplinary practices that keep children in school and engaged in learning. Atlantic set a nationwide goal to reduce school suspensions by one half and reduce discipline disparities by one quarter.

March 2017

Geographic Focus: North America / United States

Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Over the past few years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has assisted an increasing number of parents who have contacted them with concerns about charter school suspensions and expulsions. In helping parents with these cases, AFC found that charter school discipline policies were not always readily available.

In this report, AFC sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the three New York City charter school authorizers and, to the extent possible, charter schools opening in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year seeking, among other things, copies of their discipline policies. Charter schools are required to comply with FOIL requests, and most charter schools responded. From the FOIL responses and charter school websites, AFC was able to review 164 discipline policies from 155 of the 183 charter schools operating in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year. These discipline policies came from large charter school networks as well as from small, independent charter schools.

While charter schools should be able to discipline their students, they must uphold the rights of their students and provide them with a fair discipline process. The Charter Schools Act requires charter school authorizers to ensure that charter applications include discipline policies and procedures that comport with the law. Yet, all three authorizers of New York City charter schools have approved charters for schools that have legally inadequate discipline policies.

February 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans

Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States

Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States details findings of national surveys of 1,065 elementary school students in 3rd to 6th grade and 1,099 elementary school teachers of K-6th grade. The report examines students' and teachers' experiences with biased remarks and bullying, and their attitudes about gender expression and family diversity.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Building Equalizing Schools Within Inclusive Communities: Strategies That Redirect the School to Prison Pipeline in the Classroom and Beyond

Education and Literacy;Race and Ethnicity

Building Equalizing Schools Within Inclusive Communities: Strategies That Redirect the School to Prison Pipeline in the Classroom and Beyond

Exclusionary school discipline, also known as "zero tolerance," was chosen as the subject of this report for three reasons: it offers a window into inequalities in education, criminal justice, and broader social life; social scientists have come to a consensus about its harms and provided clear alternatives; and it illustrates the need for comprehensive knowledge and holistic solutions for complex problems.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Empty Seats: Addressing the Problem of Unfair School Discipline for Boys of Color

Education and Literacy;Men;Race and Ethnicity

Empty Seats: Addressing the Problem of Unfair School Discipline for Boys of Color

Boys of color are impacted more heavily by harsh discipline policies in schools -- also referred to as "zero tolerance" policies -- than their white peers. This disparate treatment has consequences for students' lifelong outcomes. As schools seek to lower dropout rates and improve graduation rates, they must evaluate the role of discipline reform in keeping boys of color connected to school and learning.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations & Resources

Children and Youth, Crime and Safety, Education and Literacy

School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations & Resources

The primary mission of North Carolina schools is to provide students an excellent education. To fully achieve this mission, schools must not only be safe, but also developmentally appropriate, fair, and just.

Unfortunately, many so-called "school safety" proposals in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut have been shortsighted measures inspired by political expediency but unsupported by data. We aim to provide a more thoughtful approach informed by decades of research and centered on the mission of public schools.

This issue brief responds to the newly established N.C. Center for Safer Schools, which has requested public input on "local concerns and challenges related to school safety" and has made available the opportunity to submit written comments.

The first section of the brief debunks common myths and provides essential facts that must provide the backdrop for the school safety debate. The second section offers proven methods of striving for safe, developmentally appropriate, fair, and just public schools. It also provides examples of reforms from other cities and states. The third section makes note of resources that we encourage Center staff to study carefully.

This brief rests on several key premises. First, "school safety" includes both physical security of students as well as their emotional and psychological well-being. Many of the proposals following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have had an overly narrow focus on physical security at the expense of this broader picture of holistic student well-being. Second, public education in this state needs more funding in order for schools to even have a chance of achieving their core mission. North Carolina consistently ranks among the worst states in the country for funding of public education.

Schools need more resources to implement measures that can truly ensure student safety. Third, student well-being depends on a coordinated effort by all the systems that serve youth. For example, school safety will be helped by laws that keep guns off school property and by full funding of the child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice systems. Finally, this issue brief is not intended to be a comprehensive set of suggestions.

Instead, our focus is on providing the Center important context that we view as missing from the current debate.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Southern)-North Carolina

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