Randi Weingarten's blog
We all want safe and welcoming school environments where students can learn and teachers can teach. But two recent disturbing examples of extreme reactions to student conduct have brought the negative effects of such responses into sharp relief. That is why many of us have called for re-evaluating the zero-tolerance policies for student misbehavior adopted throughout the nation over the last two decades. These policies were promoted by people, including me, who hoped they would create safe learning environments for students by freeing them from disruptions by misbehaving peers.
If there’s one thing our fractured society can agree on, it’s that every school should be safe and welcoming for students and staff. The recent incident in South Carolina comes at a time of reckoning for and reconsideration of discipline policies in American schools. Using research, experience and common sense, we can move toward ways to create safe and welcoming school environments.
On Oct. 2, I had the honor to speak at the AFT's Civil, Human and Women's Rights Conference in New Orleans. This is what I told the 650 people gathered there, and what I will keep saying as I travel the country.