New SPLC Program for At-Risk Students

Today the Southern Poverty Law Center announced a new national initiative, based in New Orleans, called the School to Prison Reform Project. The aim is to make sure that students in public schools are receiving the special education services they’re entitled to receive according to federal law. And the logic, of course, is that students with learning disabilities and behavioral problems are at a higher risk than their better adjusted peers to run into trouble with the law. According to the SPLC’s press release, students with “emotional disturbances” are three times as likely as other students to be arrested before leaving school, and they are very likely to drop out (only 35 percent graduate, compared with a national average of 76 percent); roughly three-quarters of those dropouts are arrested within five years.

Addressing the special needs of this population of students and reinforcing their positive behaviors–keeping them out of the “school to prison pipeline,” as the SPLC describes it–is undeniably a good instinct. It sounds like a great idea; I support the vision. Whether program director Ron Lospennato can deliver results, though–whether, that is, he’s got enough money and support to make this more than just a great idea–remains to be seen.

Think positive…


One response to “New SPLC Program for At-Risk Students

  1. Pingback: Catching Up With the SPLC School-to-Prison Reform Project « Juvienation

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