Multi-Sector Action Steps for Building Healthy Living and Learning Districts

Across the country, nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate partners have launched various initiatives designed to create networks of support to address the challenges Black males face. In an effort to position policymakers and advocates to institutionalize these initiatives, Schott highlights several positive efforts, not as stand alone programs, but as components of a comprehensive system offered, guaranteed and sustained in state and local budgets. Working in concert, these supports begin to build a healthier living and learning district by addressing highly interrelated student needs. These needs, however, can be addressed through actions by many different sectors and on multiple levels, including:

  • Schools
  • Communities
  • Federal, State & Local Governments
  • Philanthropy
  • Private Sector

Unlike ineffective “one size fits all” approaches, the Schott Foundation calls for states and districts to adopt tailored approaches adapted to personal educational needs, social contexts and students’ learning styles. The current standard approach does not serve high or low achievers well — it only allows the necessary supports for teachers to guide students towards an inconsistent medium. Students need a more student-centered learning approach to reach their full potential.

More than three million students — from early grades to high school — are suspended from school every year. These suspensions disproportionately target Black and Latino students, causing them to miss critical learning time as well as other school services and opportunities, contributing to the achievement gap and the pushout and drop out rates for these students.

As educators and policymakers seek to create healthy learning environments for all students, a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions should be a high priority. Despite compelling research that reveals that suspensions reinforce rather than lessen negative student behavior, too many schools continue to use them as a default disciplinary tool. Contrast this to the positive climate in schools that use restorative justice practices to foster safe learning environments through community building and constructive conflict resolution.