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ERIC Number: EJ1144814
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1054-8289
Social and Emotional Learning and Equity in School Discipline
Gregory, Anne; Fergus, Edward
Future of Children, v27 n1 p117-136 Spr 2017
Beginning as early as preschool, race and gender are intertwined with the way US schools mete out discipline. In particular, black students and male students are much more likely than others to be suspended or expelled--punishments that we know can hold them back academically. These disparities, and the damage they can cause, have driven recent reforms, including some that incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) practices. Anne Gregory and Edward Fergus review federal and state mandates to cut down on punishments that remove students from school, and they show how some districts are embracing SEL in their efforts to do so. Yet even in these districts, large disparities in discipline persist. The authors suggest two reasons current discipline reforms that embrace SEL practices may hold limited promise for reducing discipline disparities. The first is that prevailing "colorblind" notions of SEL don't consider power, privilege, and cultural difference--thus ignoring how individual beliefs and structural biases can lead educators to react harshly to behaviors that fall outside a white cultural frame of reference. The second is that most SEL models are centered on students, but not on the adults who interact with them. Yet research shows that educators' own social and emotional competencies strongly influence students' motivation to learn and the school climate in general. Gregory and Fergus describe how one school district is striving to orient its discipline policies around a conception of SEL that stresses equity and promotes both adults' and students' SEL competencies. Although such reforms hold promise, they are still in the early stages, and the authors call for rigorous empirical work to test whether such efforts can substantially reduce or eradicate racial and gender disparities in discipline.
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. 267 Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Tel: 609-258-6979; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York (Syracuse); Colorado (Denver); Ohio (Cleveland); California (Oakland)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A