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Statement from Gov. Bob Wise on Obama Administration’s New Recommendations on Classroom Discipline

“Current ‘zero-tolerance’ policies are doubly detrimental to students,” says Gov. Wise.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Obama administration is releasing new recommendations on classroom discipline designed to end disparities in how students of different races are punished for violating school rules. This issue is of great importance to the Alliance for Excellent Education, which has issued three different reports in the last six months on the issue. Links to those reports, as well as a statement on the new recommendations from Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, appear below.

“Current ‘zero-tolerance’ policies are doubly detrimental to students. They keep students out of school and away from the classroom, causing them to lose critical learning time and fall further behind, and they fail to address the underlying issues for their behavior.

“These policies fall especially hard on students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners, all of whom are disproportionately suspended and expelled compared to their white and non-disabled peers. For example, although African American and Latino students comprise just 16 and 24 percent of the nation’s public-school–age student population respectively, they represent more than 70 percent of the students who are involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement by schools.

“Students cannot be engaged when they aren’t allowed in the classroom. Worse, middle and high school students subjected to harsh school discipline policies and practices such as suspensions and expulsions are more likely to drop out: a student suspended once in ninth grade is twice as likely to drop out of high school.

“These new recommendations are an important first step away from zero-tolerance policies and will help schools and districts develop and implement measures that address discipline in fair and equitable ways so that schools and ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career.”

The Alliance for Excellent Education has issued three reports and conducted one webinar on school discipline in the last three months. The links for each are below:

Rigorous, Engaging Course Work Linked to Positive School Climate, Narrowed Achievement Gap in New Alliance Report:

School Discipline Policies Should Aim to Keep Students in School and Engaged, According to a New Alliance Report:

School Climate Indicative Of Student Engagement And Success, New Alliance Report Finds:

Webinar: Creating a Positive School Climate: Implementing Equitable and Effective School Discipline Practices:


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.