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Federal Policy, ESEA Reauthorization, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2011
10 pages
This paper examines the effects of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act and provides a set of recommendations for strengthening the law pending its reauthorization by lawmakers.
When Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the No Child Left Behind Act, researchers and officials within the fields of law and education noticed a startling increase in the school-to-prison pipeline. In this instance, educational policies and practices have been developed that have the effect of pushing students, especially minorities and those with disabilities, out of schools and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This paper reviews the problems resulting from the school-to-prison pipeline and offers a set of recommendations that would strengthen the ESEA pending its reauthorization. The paper's authors recommend that in order to "begin dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, improve the quality of education offered in our Nation's schools, and ensure that students' opportunities to learn are protected, Congress should: 1) Create a stronger and more effective school and student assessment and accountability system capable of recognizing success in a variety of forms and better able to provide useful infor-mation for school improvement; 2) Provide funding and incentives aimed at improving school climate, reducing the use of exclusionary discipline, and limiting the flow of students from schools to the juvenile and criminal justice systems; and 3) Facilitate the re-enrollment, reentry, and proper education of students returning to school from expulsion and juvenile justice system placements. 32 notes