Dear friends and colleagues,
Over the last year and a half, TLA has been working with colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Center to examine patterns of student disciplinary action across a group of districts in the Southeastern U.S. This work (which we’ll be publishing this fall) largely reflects what we already know from well-established research; our students of color disproportionately and predictably bear the brunt of inequitable school discipline practices as well as the cascading consequences of lost instructional time and needed connection to school and community.
Our analysis is driving critical conversations and needed community advocacy about this inequity, and the importance of holding our systems and educators accountable for recognizing harm. At the same time, as we look deeper at the data we also see other opportunities. There are schools where predictable patterns of inequity are not present, where communities are driving significant change. These data serve as inspiration for advocacy of another sort, for deeper inquiry into the practices and conditions for this positive change, and for making the case for greater sharing, replication, and adoption. As we consider where and how innovation efforts can be directed, the data offer a critical lens for setting goals and broadening conversations.
This work is helping us learn more about how data can effectively serve as a tool for advocacy, for whom, and for what purposes. As the 2023-24 school year begins, we’ve developed a new guide leadership teams and community members can use to clarify how the data they have can support their efforts to advocate for more equitable change in any area, from discipline to unfinished learning to closing gaps in access to creativity and deeper learning. By offering processes and examples, we hope this actionable tool can help our field get better at transparently using data to support conversations about equity, supporting accountability and improvement, and shining a light on innovation opportunities and bright spots to learn from.
As always, TLA would love to hear your feedback and ideas about how we can get better. Have an idea for future work we should do? Let us know!
With gratitude for your partnership,
Beth Rabbitt, CEO