Session: Disciplinary Practices in Schools: Implications for CRT in School Social Work (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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204 Disciplinary Practices in Schools: Implications for CRT in School Social Work

Friday, January 22, 2021: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Cluster: School Social Work
Symposium Organizer:
Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Prior research demonstrates that students of color, and particularly Black males, experience higher rates of exclusionary discipline (e.g., suspensions), the effect of race is independent of family income or student behavior, and that experiencing exclusionary discipline confers risk for both short and long terms outcomes (Skiba et al., 2018). Scholars and policy advocates urgently call for research that is informative about how to reduce or eliminate these persistent disparities. The reduction of disciplinary disparities is also a key goal of the Social Work Grand Challenge to achieve equal opportunity and justice. Although some suggest the promise of school-wide strategies (implicit bias training, School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS); Skiba et al., 2018), an emerging body of literature grounded in critical race theory (CRT) strongly suggests that implementation of school based strategies without an explicit critical orientation will not be sufficient to reduce disparities or address their underlying causes. Unfortunately, there is limited school social work research or practice exemplars that explicitly deploy a CRT lens (Anyon et al., 2018; Joseph, 2018). This symposium presents three papers that address race-related disciplinary disparities, interventions or practices that seek to reduce them, and at least one key tenet of CRT in the study framing and/or methodology: (1) the permanence of racism (2) whiteness as property, (3) amplification of counternarratives that challenge dominant narratives and norms (4) Black progress is contingent on white interests, (5) critique of liberal ideologies (e.g., meritocracy), and (6) intersectionality (e.g., Capper, 2015). Each focuses on high schools and high school students and implements qualitative or mixed methods. Drawing on a case study of a school implementing restorative practices, Paper 1 suggests that relative to white females, Black females experienced exclusionary discipline at higher relative rates than between Black and white males and highlights the importance of explicit consideration of intersectional identities in school discipline research. Paper 2 conducts an analysis of a school staff’s perceptions as they plan to implement SWPBIS, revealing deep racialized stratification within the school. It highlights how whiteness operates in establishing norms and demonstrates that disciplinary practices directly reflect and reify institutional racism in schools. Paper 3 draws on interviews from students and staff from two School Boards in Canada to explore disproportionate exposure to adverse experiences of students receiving exclusionary discipline. It suggests that the role of adversity within school discipline, including systemic racism and inequality, and school and community violence, must be critically understood. These papers demonstrate the multiple ways in which inequitable discipline can be seen as both a cause and outcome of a racially stratified educational and racially unjust social systems. All point to limitations of current intervention strategies that emphasize technical implementation of strategies and overlook or underestimate larger systemic factors shaping disciplinary practices. They demonstrate the generativity of deploying the lens of CRT in school social work and related research on school discipline and suggest strategies to deliver interventions from a CRT perspective so that they have greater leverage in reducing or eliminating disparities.
* noted as presenting author
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