As educators and school leaders grapple with changes in discipline policy in New York City, “safety” is cited as a primary concern of teachers from schools struggling to shift from punitive discipline structures to more restorative ones. As a longtime city teachers and union members, we feel that a vital consideration continues to be left out of these conversations: the impact of punitive discipline and the safety of students of color and their families.
The fact is that black students and students with special needs continue to be suspended and arrested at enormously disparate rates, even as the number of punishments has decreased in recent years. Moreover, there is much evidence that these discrepancies result directly from educator and school police responses to student behavior, more than any real differences in behavior between black students and white students. Read more .