Tell Lawmakers: Support The Young Student Exclusion Ban Act
Disparities in the administration of exclusionary discipline begin at the very start of a child’s schooling. In Massachusetts, Latinx and Black children in public pre-K through 3rd grade programs are 3x and 4x more likely to experience exclusionary discipline than white students, respectively. Young students facing school exclusion are also more likely to have a disability, and 75% of the total early grade population excluded from the classroom because of discipline are economically disadvantaged.
Students in the early grades need to be protected, nurtured, and kept in the classroom where they can learn and develop. During this formative school period they are building an educational foundation and learning to read. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in 3rd grade do not graduate from high school on time. This is a rate 4x greater than that for proficient readers. It is thus vital that young students of color and students with disabilities are not deprived of the foundational blocks of all their future learning.
Excluding students of color, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students from the classroom at an early age makes it increasingly likely these students will experience expulsion or suspension in later grades, face poor academic performance, fail to graduate on time, or drop out altogether. These types of adverse outcomes are all the more likely in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As young students return to school from traumatic experiences brought on by the pandemic, including inequities in access to learning during virtual and hybrid schooling, now is the time to ensure that students are able to remain in the classroom where they can get back on track while feeling safe and supported.
The Young Student Exclusion Ban Act (H.3876) would address this escalating crisis and improve educational outcomes by replacing the use of exclusionary discipline in response to minor offenses by students in the pre-K through 3rd grade with effective, alternative approaches like restorative practices, mediation, and other forms of conflict resolution. For example, this bill would have prevented a kindergartener from being suspended for shutting a door that accidentally caught a teacher's hand, which could have been effectively addressed by alternative means. The scope of this bill expands to 4th grade one year after enactment, and to 5th grade two years after enactment.
The Boston Public School system – along with 11 other states and 12 municipalities – has already taken action to address this issue by instituting similar bans on the use of exclusionary discipline for young students. Tell your legislators that it’s time for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts to catch up!
We’ve already started a message for you – click “Start Writing” above to add your own details and urge your State Representative and Senator to co-sponsor and submit testimony in support of H.3876. To get this legislation passed, we need to build strong support in the State House and we can’t do that without you. If your legislators have already co-sponsored H.3876, please thank them for their support.