School Discipline Talking Points

“Schools that rely on security guards and metal detectors to create safety may end up creating an environment that is so repressive that it is no longer conducive to learning.”

- Pedro Noguera, Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education

To help you with your campaigns and advocacy work, here are some talking points to keep in mind when discussing the necessity with providing every single student with an equal opportunity to learn.

When students are not in school, they miss out on educational opportunities.

Harsh school policies create a school-to-prison pipeline

  • Students who do not finish high school are more than eight times more likely to go to prison than students who graduate. (
  • Research shows that suspensions and expulsions are linked to higher rates of later criminal activity. (
  • High school students who come in contact with the courts are more likely to drop out. Two-thirds to three-fourths of youth who were confined in a juvenile justice facility withdrew or dropped out within a year of re-enrolling; after four years, less than 15 percent of these youth had completed their secondary education. (

This is more than an educational crisis. This is a racial crisis.

  • Harsh discipline measures are disproportionately meted out to students of color. (
  • More than 28 percent of black male middle school students were suspended in 2006, a rate of nearly three times the 10 percent rate for white males, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
  • Nearly 20 percent of black female middle school students were suspended in 2006, more than four times the 4 percent rate for white females, according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights report.
  • Children of color are more likely than their White peers to face the most severe punishments, according to a multiyear discipline study in Texas from the Council of State Governments. (

Harsh discipline policies are not cost-effective and don't make schools safer or smarter.

  • Schools with higher suspension rates tend to be less safe.
  • States spend far more on prisons and incarceration expenses than they do on schools. (
  • Students at schools that mete out fewer suspensions perform better on academic tests. According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, researchers have identified examples in which schools with similar student bodies that suspended and expelled students at higher rates did no better on key school performance measures than those schools that had fewer suspensions and expulsions. (