The state of our schools

The state of our schools

Over the past year, students embodied our democracy. They organized against injustice, participating in a mass walk-out and taking hold of a national conversation.

But as students are heading back to school, many of them are being greeted by more police and metal detectors, and few, if any, counselors. Increasingly, students of color are entering a school system that's policing the children it's tasked to protect – conducting invasive searches and subjecting them to disproportionate punishment.

We just released an interactive report analyzing data on race, discipline, and safety in our public schools – all 96,000 of them. Check out these findings that show how public schools are performing nationwide, and in your own county.

Here are some key takeaways:

For the first time in history, public schools in America are serving mostly children of color.

Students who missed school in 2015-16 because of suspensions – disproportionately students of color – were denied a total of 11 million days of instruction. That’s 60,000 school years and 60 million hours of lost education. All in a single school year.

Millions of students are in schools with cops but no counselor, social worker, or nurse. In 2015-2016, there was a student-to-counselor ratio of 444:1.

The Trump administration is calling for increasing "law and order" with more school police, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is even considering allowing the use of federal funds to arm teachers with guns – moves that will harm students of color the most and deepen education inequality.

We're facing a national school system that’s harming the students it has a duty to protect, but this past year showed us the power that youth have, even so.

Jerome, summer has ended, so gear up for this year and get ahead of your homework: Learn more about race, discipline, and safety in our country's public school system – including in your home county – and see what policy changes are needed now.

We all need to be back-to-school ready.

The ACLU Team

P.S. If you're going back to school or know someone who is, get a refresher on what rights students maintain in the classroom here. (Spoiler alert: Students maintain all of their rights.)