All of Delaware’s students deserve a safe, equitable, and proficient education, but our schools have a long way to go before we make that vision a reality.
Shannon Griffin, M.S., Project Director & Melva L. Ware, Ph.D., Toolkit Editor
In response to the concerted advocacy of community leaders to change education policies and end school practices that feed the state’s mass incarceration system, Delaware has enacted legislation that furthers these goals. Signed into law in 2018, this Act amends Title 14 of the Delaware Code Relating to the Lawful Authority of Teachers Over Pupils. It requires schools that suspend students at a high rate or that show significant disparities in the rates of suspension among demographic subgroups to take meaningful corrective actions that include transparent reporting, parent-informed planning, and adoption of restorative, non-punitive discipline practices.
By replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective non-punitive interventions, schools will consciously create more inclusive cultures. High rates of school exclusion are linked to stress-related academic and health risks for affected students. Comprehensive studies indicate that inclusive school cultures reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families. Non-punitive, restorative discipline practices support the development of responsive relationships for young people with adults. Responsive school interactions foster students’ development of core life skills, including self-regulation. (See Issue Brief, January 2019. School Discipline Practices A Public Health Crisis and an Opportunity for Reform www.changelabsolutions.org)
This training opens the door for Delaware educators to adopt systematic approaches to school discipline that encourage problem-solving and create opportunities for students to take more responsibility for their behavior. As our schools respond to this opportunity to move towards systemic change, we are grateful to the Welfare Foundation of Delaware for providing critical financial support for the development of this training toolkit.
Fair discipline educator & parent training
This training supports school communities in meeting the requirements of the new regulations. It is designed to prepare educators and parents to make substantive contributions during the process that schools must undertake to develop plans that address root causes of high suspension rates and identify school-specific remedies.
As published, the training curriculum references the reported work of states and school districts that have documented the positive impact of their similar efforts to shift disciplinary practices away from heavy reliance on suspension to adoption of community-building strategies. The importance of district and school building commitment is consistently noted in these reports.
Designed to equip participants with information, as well as practical steps for planning within school communities, training curriculum for the six outlined workshops was developed and advised by Delaware educators and social justice advocates. The toolkit serves as generic guidance for planning intensive training. Introductory sessions allow presenters opportunities to introduce key concepts.
For more information and to schedule training, contact Shannon Griffin, ACLU Community and Project Organizer firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overview of training topics
- Advocacy Training: Activating Change Agents
- Analyzing Data & Disrupting the Discipline Cycle
- Engaging Families and Understanding Trauma
- Parents and Teachers Working Together: The Power Pact
- Understanding School Discipline, Racial Disproportionality, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Sessions are facilitated by local experts in education. Check back later for future workshops.