Clark joins White House convening on school discipline


Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass) with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and education advocate Anna Deavere Smith at the July 27 White House convening on school discipline.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark  joined a White House strategy session on school discipline with experts from across the country. The White House gathering of school officials and child advocates came together to reevaluate standards in school discipline, including expulsions, suspensions, and other measures that can create barriers to academic success. Clark serves on the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce and has advocated for schools to implement supportive learning environments instead of punitive measures.

“When children come to school bearing the weight of neglect, hunger, abuse or other trauma, it’s difficult to learn,” Clark said.  “Instead of helping them meet their challenges, severe school policies can cut off our most vulnerable students’ path to success and create a school to prison pipeline. It’s important for us to empower teachers with modern, evidence-based approaches that set high expectations for achievement, and promote long term academic success.”

Clark has introduced bills that emphasize the benefits of trauma-informed learning environments. Clark’s bill, the Supportive School Climate Act, aims to improve outcomes for students by promoting supportive environments while reducing suspensions, expulsions, and other overly harsh school disciplinary actions. Clark also introduced the Caring Start Act, legislation to help children from birth to age 5 who experience higher barriers to learning due to toxic stress or trauma outside of school.

Each year, over three million students are suspended or expelled – often for minor, non-violent offenses. These students become less likely to complete high school and more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system.