Rethinking school discipline

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (YouTube) The topic of school discipline has been bubbling up in the news, with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announcing on Jan. 8 new federal guidelines for school discipline, citing the race and gender disparities among those students suspended and expelled.

"Together, we call on state and district and local school leaders to rethink school discipline," says Duncan in an accompanying video.

Here's what the Secretary had to say over Twitter:

One of our fellows has been working diligently on this issue. You may have noticed this opinion piece from Matt Haney and Neva Walker over the holiday break. Matt is a fellow and a San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education Commissioner. Neva is the executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco.

In the piece, titled "San Francisco schools need solutions, not suspensions", the co-authors make the case for why San Francisco schools need to move away from suspending students for "willful defiance" and towards other, more effective disciplinary actions. They write:

The good news is that there are proven alternatives: Restorative practices help students accept responsibility, repair harm and contribute as a positive member of the school community. Positive behavioral supports and trauma-sensitive practices give teachers the tools to set clear behavioral expectations and address the needs of their most challenging students. These interventions don't just reduce suspensions; they also lead to more supportive, caring school environments.

Read the full op-ed over on