Keeping Kids in School By Reforming Disciplinary Practices and Increasing Health Care Access

Keeping kids in school pic.JPGDiscipline policies that send students home lead to missed instruction time and project-based learning, which cannot be replicated with at-home assignments. As a result, communities around the state are starting to think differently about discipline in schools for young children.

In Prescott, the district eliminated its zero-tolerance policy for fighting so students are not automatically given out-of-school suspension for this infraction. Additionally, teachers and administrators in the district completed training in conscious discipline and restorative justice. These approaches focus on reconciliation rather than punitive measures.

Act 1059, passed during the 2017 legislative session, builds on this momentum by banning out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in grades K-5, unless a student poses a harm to himself/herself or others and all other measures have been tried and failed. Research shows that such punishments are not effective in changing behaviors and have an added consequence of harming academic performance because the students are missing classroom instruction.

Chronic health issues can also be a cause of excessive absences, but Marshallese students in Arkansas have had limited access to health care because they have been ineligible for ARKids First. The Arkansas Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 1012 to increase access to health care and reduce days missed due to illness, by asking the Governor to take steps to extend ARKids First coverage to children born in the Marshall Islands.