Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 674 into law on Monday, banning out-of-school suspensions for students in prekindergarten through second grade throughout the state of Texas, except in cases involving drugs, weapons or extreme violence.
Authored by Rep. Eric Johnson, who represents District 100 in Dallas, the law also encourages school districts to implement research-based positive disciplinary alternatives to suspension that keep kids in schools.
“I’m very pleased that Governor Abbott signed the bill, as opposed to allowing it to become law without his signature,” Johnson told The Root. “I take this to mean that the governor shares my view that the school-to-prison pipeline is real and that our early-childhood educators are our first line of defense against it.”
In his official statement, Johnson said that the law “sends a strong message that the state of Texas wants children to be educated and not incarcerated.”
In advocating for his bill, Johnson rightfully noted on a fact sheet that suspending young children is harmful and ineffective for a number of reasons, including these:
- Young children who are expelled or suspended from school are about 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, face incarceration and repeat grades.
- The removal of children from school creates hardships for families who have to miss work to stay home with young students.
- Suspensions are associated with lower schoolwide academic achievement and lower school climate ratings.
- Houston Independent School District has already banned the practice of discretionary classroom removals for children in pre-K through second grade.
The Root salutes Johnson and his efforts to curb the school-to-prison pipeline at the local level.