COVID-19’s toll has been immense—in human lives, in harm to communities, and in its impact on people’s livelihoods.
It is also changing business as usual in many areas, including education, where the adoption of remote learning has raised concerns about some kids, particularly the rapidly growing number of homeless students, falling behind because of a lack of technology and resources.
It’s imperative the increased reliance on technology in schools not deepen the inequities already there. As the school year begins, New York City’s Department of Education has yet to update its discipline policy for COVID-19. Elsewhere in the nation, excessive punishments, such as a student being suspended for having a toy gun in his bedroom, are already being reported. As we have noted in our study of the intersection of the education and justice systems, we found that students suspended from school were more likely to fail to advance academically and experience an arrest. Suspensions were also disparately applied by race, disability, economic status, and other factors.
We have also documented strategies that successful schools have adopted—such as restorative justice—that promote a positive school climate and reduce the use of suspension. Our findings suggest that schools with the best overall climates—as rated by students, teachers, and parents—tend to be those that use suspension most sparingly.
In addition, our Youth Justice Board, a leadership program for New York City teens, looked in depth at how police and schools are using social media to surveil, criminalize, and punish young people. As the report’s findings show, it’s imperative now more than ever that students be educated about both the benefits and perils of technology.
As students in New York City begin an uncertain school year, the members of the Youth Justice Board have outlined some key ways students can protect their digital identities. Their advice includes:
- Keep accounts separate. Don't mix your social life with your school work.
- Know your school's social media and digital policies—and what the expectations are for how you will interact with teachers and administrators.
- Find out what “private” really means and get a privacy report card for any software or program your school is asking you to use.
- Screenshots happen. Minimize the information exposed about you in your video.
- Read all of the Youth Justice Board's tips.
Highlights and Updates
- Listen to a special school-focused episode of our New Thinking podcast, "Restorative Justice is Racial Justice."
- Gothamist examines the campaign to link New York’s bail reform to violent crime—our director of jail reduction, Mike Rempel, weighs in.
- UpNext hosted its annual Back to School event! See more.