Before students of all colors can succeed equally in Connecticut’s public schools, we must be bluntly honest about why disparities exist. An achievement gap would exist if we gave every student equal opportunities and some children still failed to achieve. In a myriad ways, we do not give all our children the same opportunities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in school discipline policies that exclude children from the classroom.
Any parents who controlled or disciplined their children by tying them up could expect to be visited by child welfare authorities and police. Yet mechanical restraints have long been commonly employed in Connecticut’s public schools and its juvenile court. The legislature has an opportunity this session to protect our children’s safety and dignity through bills that would limit this practice in our educational and juvenile justice systems.
The governor’s proposal to reorganize juvenile justice in Connecticut will dismantle a system that has reduced youth crime and saved taxpayers millions. It would likely lead to worse outcomes and be more expensive than the current system.
Connecticut has made remarkable strides in improving its array of services and evidence-based programs to ensure more kids can grow and thrive in families. Commissioner Joette Katz has not rejected group placement as an option; she has merely required the justification that taking kids away from families demands.