Exclusionary school discipline causes serious harm in students’ lives – interrupting their education, undermining their rights, and often leading to worse academic outcomes. Feeling unsafe and unwelcome, students who are repeatedly excluded from school through suspensions, expulsions, or school-related arrests become more likely to drop out entirely and face increased risk of coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
This is often referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline, the policies and practices that funnel students out of their classrooms towards incarceration. Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately punished and excluded, widening existing disparities.
All students deserve fair, inclusive schools where they are empowered to succeed. Through MA Appleseed’s Educational Justice initiative, we work with students, educators, parents, and partners to:
- Identify and promote trauma-informed practices that meet the genuine needs of students and support their physical, social, and emotional well-being;
- Shift school cultures away from criminalization and implement policies grounded in restorative justice;
- Disrupt harmful narratives that fuel unjust policies and amplify a vision of education that reimagines school safety beyond punitive discipline; and
- Advance policy change and support movement-building efforts at the local level to create safe, supportive learning environments for all students.