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

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

School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, The

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Prison and Judicial Reform

School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, The

Research and data on school discipline practices are clear: millions of students are being removed from their classrooms each year, mostly in middle and high schools, and overwhelmingly for minor misconduct. When suspended, these students are at a significantly higher risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are youth of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).

There is no question that when students commit serious offenses or pose a threat to school safety they may need to be removed from the campus or arrested. Such incidents, however, are relatively rare, and school typically remains the safest place a young person can be during the day. In schools with high rates of suspension for minor offenses, however, students and teachers often feel they are not safe or supported in their learning environment. Trailblazing student and parent groups, advocacy organizations, researchers, professional associations and school districts have raised the visibility of exclusionary discipline practices across the nation. In response, individual schools, districts, and state education systems have implemented research-based approaches to address student misbehavior that hold youth accountable address victims' needs, and effectively improve both student conduct and adult responses These approaches also help keep students engaged in classrooms and out of courtrooms

The federal government has also put a spotlight on these issues. As part of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance in January 2014 to assist public elementary and secondary schools in meeting their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. The School Discipline Consensus Report builds on this foundation and breaks new ground by integrating some of the best thinking and innovative strategies from the fields of education, health law enforcement, and juvenile justice. Leaders in these diverse systems agree that local and state governments must not only help schools reduce the number of students suspended, expelled and arrested, but must also provide conditions for learning wherein all students feel safe, welcome, and supported. The central thesis of this comprehensive report is that achieving these objectives requires the combination of a positive school climate, tiered levels of behavioral interventions, and a partnership between education, police, and court officials that is dedicated to preventing youth arrests or referrals to the juvenile justice system for minor school-based offenses.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Education Policy Impacts: 2007-2014

Education and Literacy, Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Education Policy Impacts: 2007-2014

Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) is a national funders' collaborative committed to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students -- in particular

students of color from low-income families -- by supporting community-driven reforms led

by grassroots education organizing groups. A project of NEO Philanthropy, CPER has

engaged 76 local and national fund members, investing $34 million in 140 community groups,

advocacy allies, and national coalitions over the Fund's eight year lifespan.

Powered by multi-year campaigns that involved organizing, advocacy, research, communications, and alliance building, CPER grantees played a key role in securing more than

9 policy wins at the school, district, state and federal level between 2007 and 2014. This

summary of selected wins begins with those achieved at the federal level and follows with

district- and state-level reforms grouped by CPER's six investment sites across the country.

Organizations must remain united to defend these wins, monitor their implementation, and

ensure that policies will stick.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

School Climate: Practices for Implementation and Sustainability

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

School Climate: Practices for Implementation and Sustainability

The National School Climate Center (NSCC) School Climate Practice Briefs -- Practices for Implementation and Sustainability -- present the latest in research and best practice for effective school climate reform from leading experts. The 11 issues selected to be included in this set of Practice Briefs are based on NSCC's decade-long work with the entire academic community -- teachers, staff, school-based mental health professionals, students and parents -- to improve a climate for learning.

These School Climate Briefs for Implementation and Sustainability focus on both the "what?" - what are the foundational standards, research and measurements of school climate; and the "so what?" - what practices individuals, schools and communities can employ to measure and improve school climate for maximum impacts. We encourage a review of the entire set of Briefs as they demonstrate how school climate aligns with current opportunities and challenges schools face to ensure quality, safe, equitable and engaging environments for students and adults.

Geographic Focus: North America-Canada

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