December 6, 2020

Author: Scott Lovely

This summer we saw marches across the nation for the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement, calling for equal treatment and fighting against systemic racism.  The racial tension in this nation has not been at this level of frustration since the 1960’s.  Now more and more people see and understand the plight that the African American community has been complaining about when dealing with local law enforcement.  With this new enlightenment of the community it may be time to also address the issues within school settings that are establishing a culture of failure for our students of color.

For 30 years there have been published studies displaying the disproportionate discipline being handed out to students of color.  The team “school to prison pipeline” was coined by the Children’s Defense Fund study conducted in 1975, Young, Young, & Butler (2018) outlined what they called; ‘the discipline gap’ which refers to the recorded disproportionate representation of Black students in school discipline, specifically in the area of suspensions, expulsions, and office referrals. 

Educators are well aware of the fact that students cannot learn if they are not in class, this has been an issue for years as the accountability of student progress has been pushed onto the teacher.  Teachers complain about students that are out of class hindering the overall rating of their student improvement scores.  Now with documented discipline recording higher numbers of exclusionary discipline for students of color, there is no question why students are falling behind and failing state standardized tests, along with schools within certain neighborhoods being rated so low.

Somehow, we must shift this trend and establish a new paradigm in which these students can succeed and it has to begin now.  With studies recording this trend for 30 years, action must be taken and the conversation can no longer wait as we see another generation being funneled into the “school to prison pipeline”.  Behavior matrix trainings, culture difference trainings, and diversity, equity and inclusion must become the focus of schools in an effort to correct these issues.  Communities must stand together and demand a change in their schools because Black Lives Matter in Schools Too.


Young, J. L., Young, Jamaal R., & Butler, B. R. (2018, December). A Student Saved is NOT a Dollar Earned: A Meta-Analysis of School Disparities in Discipline Practice Toward Black Children. LSU Digital Commons.