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Editor's Note

Moving Beyond Zero Tolerance

Imagine if every school were to discontinue zero tolerance policies. Fewer students would be pushed out of school for minor infractions. More students would receive the education they depend on public schools to provide—an education that gives them a true shot at future success. Unfortunately, zero tolerance policies continue to reign in many public schools across the nation. As a result, instead of getting the education they deserve, many students land in the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately affects students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBT students.

Our cover story, “The School-to-Prison Pipeline” provides an in-depth look at the negative effects of zero tolerance discipline practices. NEA supports restorative practices that use empathy over authority, and encourage schools to use a new toolkit so they can learn to stop excessive penalizing, and instead start communicating with students to understand their motivations.

Empathy, communication, and understanding also play a role in “The Road Less Traveled,” a story that takes a look at how public schools across the nation empathize with the experiences of unaccompanied minors, ease their adaptation to a new country, and help these students prepare for a bright future.

In “The Student Debt Crisis,” we address a topic that affects too many of today’s college graduates. In fact, seven out of 10 college grads owe $30,000 in student loans. In 2013, NEA launched the “Degrees Not Debt” campaign—an effort that calls for college affordability for all students. Read this important story to learn more.

To me, many of the stories in this issue come down to one word—opportunity. As we look at the months ahead, let’s work together to make sure that every student has an opportunity to receive the great public education they deserve.

Steven Grant

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