Cohen, Bennett present legislation of rehabilitative practices to address the school prison pipeline

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado today introduced the School Rehabilitation Methods Act, legislation to help schools and counties build safe and inclusive learning environments and encourage the use of rehabilitative practices in place. Of overly severe punitive discipline policies, such as “zero tolerance,” which often results in disproportionate punishment for minor offenses.

“It is important to shape students’ behaviors in an empathetic and understanding way, not through harsh discipline and punishment,” Cohen said. “The pipeline from prison to school is the result of resource-poor school systems that often rely on police involvement or zero-tolerance policies and deprive students of the attention they need. The Schools Rehabilitation Methods Act is designed to address the need of our elementary and high schools to help students develop skills “Initiatives to resolve conflicts and promote a positive school climate. It will also reduce rehearsals in the juvenile justice system. I am proud to join Senator Bennett in advancing this step and look forward to seeing its long-term beneficial effect.”

“When I was in charge of the Denver Public Schools, we worked with students, parents and community leaders to dismantle the school pipe by abolishing an overly harsh school discipline policy that pushes children out of schools and the criminal justice system. This policy disproportionately affects colored students “Students from disadvantaged families and students with disabilities,” Bennett said. “This legislation will help Colorado schools build on their work to foster positive and safe environments for our children and support their efforts to help more students succeed, meet high expectations and complete their college or career-ready education.”

The prison school pipeline directs students – especially colored students and students with disabilities – out of school and into juvenile and criminal justice systems, depriving them of education and limiting their future employment opportunities. Too harsh school disciplinary policies, rising zero-tolerance policies in schools and racial and ethnic bias all contribute to the pipeline from school to prison. Rehabilitative practices are initiatives initiated to prevent misconduct by improving the school climate, building community and strengthening relationships. The bill seeks to foster a positive school environment, raise the voice of students and strengthen all ties in the school community.

The Schools Rehabilitation Methods Act of 2022 offers an opportunity to stop the school pipeline from prison by reducing out-of-school suspensions and limiting students ’risk of dropout and detention. The legislation will be:

  • Establish competitive grants to help schools and counties build safe and inclusive learning environments and encourage the use of rehabilitative practices instead of overly harsh punitive discipline policies, such as “zero tolerance.” These working methods include employing a team to lead restorative methods; Implementation of rehabilitative practice training; And funding a curriculum, material development and anti-racist and culturally and linguistically responsive training. The bill also sets standards for school and targeted student safety standards that schools must meet before receiving a grant.
  • Prioritize eligible schools and eligible candidates with the greatest proven need. This includes schools that are disproportionately affected by juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and serve high-poverty and / or rural communities.
  • Instruct the Ministry of Government Responsibility to investigate the prison school track and the extent to which evidence-based interventions – such as rehabilitative methods – can improve student achievement and improve public safety and student well-being.
  • Establish a data monitoring system in the Ministry of Education to highlight strong examples of rehabilitative methods in schools and establish guidelines for school disciplinary procedures that can dramatically reduce the number of children admitted to the pipeline from school to prison.

The National Board of Education (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and People for the American Way have approved the bill.

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