A Message from the CSG Chairman

Tennessee State Senator Mark NorrisI am pleased to provide you with the first in a series of bulletins regarding school discipline, which will update you about the status of the CSG Justice Center’s School Discipline Consensus Project and highlight important recent developments in the field.

When I took the gavel as CSG’s Chairman, I announced our national initiative “State Pathways to Prosperity,” which looks at various strategies to boost states’ efforts to improve education and workforce development. One aspect of this national initiative focuses on keeping kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system. I asked Senator John Whitmire to lead this given his pioneering efforts in Texas and his role as chair of CSG Justice Center’s School Discipline Consensus Project.

Later this spring, the CSG Justice Center and its partners will release a comprehensive report reflecting two years of conversations with more than 700 people from across the US: policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and advocates from the fields of education, behavioral health, school safety, law enforcement, juvenile justice, social services, and child welfare. The School Discipline Consensus Project Report provides a comprehensive blueprint for anyone in local, state, or federal government seeking to minimize schools’ dependence on suspension and expulsion to manage student behaviors. Implementing the report recommendations should improve students’ academic outcomes, reduce their involvement in the juvenile justice system, and promote safe and productive learning environments.

Expect this exhaustive report to be released in May. Along with the report, the CSG Justice Center will provide a host of complementary resources, including a user-friendly executive summary, checklists tailored to particular audiences, such as superintendents, and other web-based tools.

Participants in the School Discipline Consensus Project were pleased to see that so many of the ideas they featured in the Consensus Report are reflected in the guidance package recently released by the U.S. Department of Education. I am grateful to the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Education, along with a number of private foundations, for partnering with the CSG Justice Center to provide a bipartisan, field-driven vision to improve school discipline policies and practices.

Texas State Senator John WhitmireAs leaders in our respective state legislatures, Senator Whitmire and I are keenly aware that every state is unique, and, in the end, improvements in policy and practice must come from individual schools, school districts, and state government.

We are pleased that Tennessee and Texas are among a growing number of states across the country recognizing that suspending and arresting students for minor misconduct can result in lasting negative consequences and poor educational outcomes. In Texas, the state legislature took a significant step in 2013 to pass legislation that prevents school-based officers from issuing citations for minor misbehavior. In Tennessee, as part of its Safe and Supportive Schools grant, researchers and practitioners are developing an approach to measuring improvements in school climate.

In the weeks leading up to the release of the School Discipline Consensus Report, the CSG Justice Center will be sending regular round-ups of school discipline-related articles and resources. If you haven’t done so already, please sign up here to receive updates: csgjusticecenter.org/subscribe. Please also forward this link to colleagues and friends in the field.

Sincerely,

Senator Mark Norris
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader
Chairman, Council of State Governments