U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week announced plans to dramatically reduce incarceration for nonviolent offenses and announced efforts to reform school discipline policies and the criminal justice system.
Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis released the following statement in response:
“Secretary Duncan got it right. The school-to-prison pipeline has devastating effects on young people. Mass incarceration starts in pre-school with suspensions and arrests. We cannot stay on this path.
“We must address racial bias and how it impacts decisions that affect students,” she said. “Secretary Duncan’s acknowledgement is a result of years of grassroots organizing around the criminalization of students who have suffered the consequences of exclusionary discipline.”
“While we are encouraged by the Department of Education’s commitment to end the school-to-prison pipeline, we must move beyond simply acknowledging racism and make greater investments in student success, rather than punishment,” she continued.
“The department should ensure that any school climate transformation program must provide resources to hire support professionals. We need to invest in counselors, social workers, school psychologists and restorative justice practitioners who can better address the needs of students, not law enforcement officers who exacerbate the problem.”