Proposal aims to stop unfair school punishments targeting minority students

Proposal aims to stop unfair school punishments targeting minority students

A new bill is looking to stop unfair school punishments that largely target minority students and lead to the “school to prison pipeline.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley co-sponsored the “Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-Based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma (PUSHOUT) Act.”

"We need to radically reimagine our school communities,” Pressley said. “Schools should be the safest place for our young people."

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A 2018 Government Accountability report found that while black students make up less than 16 percent of the population, they account for almost 40 percent of students suspended from school.

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"I remember the first detention I got,” Adaku Onyeka-Crawford with the National Women’s Law Center said. “I was 11-years-old. I was a sixth-grade student in honor's math and I thought I had an inciteful question about a math problem."

The PUSHOUT Act would give $2.5 billion in new federal grants to states and schools that ban suspensions and expulsions for kids in the fifth grade and under.

"What pre-schooler deserves to be suspended?” Joanne Smith with Girls for Gender Equality said.

The grant money is also for schools that stop policies that keep kids out of the classroom for breaking minor rules like tardiness or dress code.

"Now we're putting in place incentives around decriminalization and de-incarceration,” Pressley said.

The schools would use the money to invest in counselors, social workers and mental health professionals for students.