Ayanna Pressley Pushes $2.5 Billion Bill to Abolish Discipline in Public Schools Because Too Many Blacks Are Suspended/Expelled

Monday, December 9, 2019
By Paul Martin

Paul Kersey
December 9, 2019

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) is set to introduce legislation on Thursday to tackle the problem of students of color, particularly Black girls, facing disproportionately punitive discipline in school.

The Ending Pushout Act aims to stop discriminatory punishment practices that “criminalize Black and brown students, push them out of school and exacerbate the school to prison pipeline,” per a release from Pressley’s team. This is the first bill to come out of the congresswoman’s sweeping criminal justice reform proposals announced last month.

Black students in the U.S. are significantly more likely than white students to be suspended, expelled, arrested at school or referred to outside law enforcement agencies. While Black children make up about 16% of all U.S. public school students, they account for about 40% of school suspensions, according to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report.

Black girls in particular face harsher treatment in school than their peers: they are over five times more likely to be suspended than white girls, according to a 2017 report from the National Women’s Law Center, which used data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights from 2013-2014.

Pressley’s legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), would establish $2.5 billion in new grants for states and schools to provide educators with implicit bias training, invest in counselors and social workers, and adjust school discipline policies ― notably around “appearance” and “grooming” for students ― with input from families and community members.

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