Restorative justice programs that provide children with the support they need to thrive in school

May 21, 2022

By, LeeAnn Hall Director, National Campaign for Justice

Juvenile detention center


By investing in restorative justice programs that provide children with the support they need to thrive in school, we can break the school-to-prison pipeline and give children, particularly children of color targeted by unequal enforcement, the opportunities they need to succeed.

Schools must take the time to work with students that may act out or are struggling in some way, not simply kick them to the curb and arrest them because of minor problems in the classroom.

We must take a different approach to school discipline that puts the needs of children first.

Studies show that over disciplining students’ behavior in school does not result in better outcomes for students or schools.

Instead, students that face punishment with exclusionary school discipline policies from expulsions to suspensions are more likely to fall behind academically. And the Agency of Education and others have found that students of color, students with disabilities, and low-income students are disproportionately expelled from class, increasing structural barriers and racial inequity for families often already struggling to succeed.[1]

The U.S. Department of Education found that young children who are suspended or expelled are 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, experience academic failure, hold negative attitudes toward school and face incarceration than those who are not.[2]

This is why it’s often called the school-to-prison pipeline. These policies push children out of the classroom and down a path that is devoid of the educational opportunities that should be nurtured within every child at every school.

EXPO of Wisconsin Response:

We can do better…we must do better! EXPO of Wisconsin builds powerful issue campaigns that win. We educate organizers and movement leaders. We help develop effective strategies for criminal and social justice movements.

We create innovative organizing projects where we see a need. We also partner with established organizations to build people’s power.

[1] Exclusionary Discipline Response, Vermont Agency of Education