Good Idea: MA Won't Deny Suspended Students Education Resources
Thanks to the advocacy work of students, parents and communities across Massachusetts, a new law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick will give suspended or expelled students access to educational resources like alternative schools, tutoring or online learning programs.
The new law is a big step in combatting school pushout. Students who are barred from the classroom without access to the resources they need to continue their studies are more likely to fall behind in their work, drop out of school and wind up in the juvenile justice system. Keeping them engaged in their education not only fulfills every student's right to a quality education but also serves the long-term interests of the community.
Under the law, school districts must also report suspension and expulsion data to the state to better identify disparities in how school discipline policies are implemented in the state. Across the country, harsh discipline policies disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities. More and better information on which students are targeted and how is key to reforming unfair and misguided discipline policies that push students out of the classroom.
You can learn more about the new law here and view a copy of the new law here. And click here to view an impressive list of all the organizations that testified at legislative hearings in support of the law.
Providing resources to suspended or expelled students is only part of the solution to school pushout. More critically, we need school districts to implement positive in-school alternatives to suspensions and expulsions. To learn more, check out "Solutions Not Suspensions," a new grassroots initiative led by the OTL Campaign and the Dignity in Schools Campaign that calls for a national moratorium on out-of-school suspensions and the implementation of alternatives discipline policies.