As she proposes her first bill to tackle criminal justice reform, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass), wants to start with students of color; in particular, Black girls.
Geared to stop the “school to confinement pathway”, Rep. Pressley’s bill is titled, “The Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-Based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma Act,” and it would offer incentives to states and schools who commit to banning most suspensions and expulsion, corporal punishments and physical restraints of students.
Pressley, the first Black women to represent Congress in Massachusetts, along with Rep. lhan Omar (D-Minn.), wants the legislation to “establish $2.5 billion in new federal grants for schools that commit to a set of measures aimed at overhauling the ways schools handle disciple,” according to The Intercept. “ Schools receiving grants would have to agree to rewrite their discipline policies and include students, families, and communities in the process.”
“As the Trump Administration actively works to roll back protections for our most vulnerable students, we must work in partnership with the community to develop holistic solutions that center the lived experiences of girls of color who have been most impacted by cruel and discriminatory school policies and practices,” said Pressley.
The bill also comes at a time when Black students have a significantly higher chance than white students of being suspended, expelled, and even arrested at school or referred to outside law enforcement agencies. According to HuffPost, while “Black children make up about 16% of all U.S. public school students, they account for about 40% of school suspension, according to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report. “