Tell Your State Representative: We Need Funding to Keep Students in Class

The Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means recently released its FY23 budget proposal. In exciting news, Representative Uyterhoeven of Somerville has filed two important amendments to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education budget that would utilize existing funds to provide targeted interventions (#1133) and school supports (#1138) to reduce the use of suspensions among students in pre-K through 3rd grade. In addition, Representative Khan of Newton has filed an integral amendment to support public schools and school districts in transitioning to safety models that do not rely on stationing police in schools (#1321).

Together, these initiatives will help disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and keep students in class where they are safe and supported.

We need funding for these initiatives because 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.

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.

Similarly, research has shown that while having police in schools does not improve school safety (particularly with respect to preventing school shootings), police presence in schools has been tied directly to greater numbers of suspensions, lower graduation rates, and lower college enrollment rates. And the same racial disparities we see in student suspensions and expulsions occur when these students are forced to interact with school police. In Massachusetts specifically, Black and Latinx students represent 27% of all students, but 64% of all arrests.

These types of disparities and adverse outcomes are all the more likely in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to ensure that students are able to remain in the classroom where they can get back on track.

We’ve already started a message for you – click “Start Writing” above to add your own details and urge your State Representative to co-sponsor House budget amendments #1133, #1138, and #1321. If your Representative has already co-sponsored House budget amendments #1133, #1138, and #1321, please thank them for their support.