School Change Efforts

Are you a teacher or leader looking to change the negative or authoritarian culture of your school? Are you an educator who reviews our case studies and asks
themselves how they can actively participate in breaking the school exclusion cycle? Are you a person invested in working with students who believes that police have no place in houses of learning? It is time to take action! The resources below provide you with information on ending the School to Prison Pipeline in your school. These resources include ways to educate around social justice, build positive relationships with students, and learn about alternatives to suspension and expulsion. Remember, it only takes one person to start a movement for change!

National Efforts

Dignity in Schools Campaign-National Resource Library for Educatorsprovides some practical tools and guidelines for implementing alternatives to zero tolerance discipline and preventing pushout in your school and classroom.

Brian Schoonover is a former professor and current school administrator in Dade County, Florida, who has just published an book on zero tolerance policies entitled Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies: The History, Implementation, and Controversy of Zero Tolerance Policies in Student Codes of Conduct. In addition to his in-depth book, his website provides links to news articles and research related to zero tolerance policies and reform efforts across the United States:


The Advancement Project is working to end the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track.” Their website provides important resources, including reports on school discipline and tools for teachers.

Regional Efforts

teachersunite.jpgTeachers Unite is an organization of New York public school teachers fighting for social justice throughout New York City schools. In addition to organizing teachers around human rights issues, TU works in together with parents and students, to transform New York and its schools. Their site provides you with more information about their work, information about joining the organization, and ways to starting a local Teachers Unite chapter.

Gavel4.jpgFairfax Zero Tolerance Reform is a group of parents, teachers, and students working together to reform the Fairfax County Public School student disciplinary process. Their website provides information on their work to combat zero tolerance policies, resources on the impact of zero tolerance, as well as links to become involved in their work and the broader fight to reform school discipline within
the United States.

Books Not Bars, a subgroup of the California-based Ella Baker Center Campaign, brings attention to the injustices facing youth in prison and organizes around closing the California Division of Juvenile Justice prisons. Their website has a wide variety of multimedia, as well as suggestions for how to become involved.

The Chicago Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Teaching Collective is an all-volunteer group that organizes interactive workshops, film screenings, and trainings which aim to inspire action. While their work has a broad audience that isn't limited to schools or school teachers, their website and broader organization provide many opportunities for youth and teachers to explore issues related to mass incarceration. In addition to information on the topic, the website also provides some practical steps to inspire, inform, and enable action.


Project NIA, also based in Chicago, uses the principles of participatory community justice – often called restorative or transformative justice to offer a new way of thinking about crime and violence. They use community-based justice models to redefine the goals of the criminal legal system and address both crime prevention and local, collaborative approaches to addressing crime.

cropped-suspensionstories_11x17.jpgSuspension Stories is a Chicago-based youth-led participatory action research project which explores the school to prison pipeline. Their website provides information on their research, as well as guidelines for implementing a similar project curriculum in other schools.

Alternative Approaches

niu.jpgForming Positive Student Relationships is an article that discusses ways that teachers can build relationships with their students to increase their investment in schools. Teachers can invest in understanding students individual life situations, gauge their interests to incorporate into classroom teaching, and show students they care. The tips in this article can show teachers how to reach the child that nothing else seems to work for.


Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Practice is an article that explores the effectiveness of restorative justice in a variety of schools across different demographic backgrounds. It discusses the use of restorative practices as a reaction to schools that have implemented zero tolerance policies, with little or no impact. This work analyzes a link between creation of a positive learning environment and the implementation of restorative practices.

Joshua Heisler's online library on Fairness Committees includes helpful resources and tools teachers can use for for creating a restorative justice program at their schools.

General Resources

Broken on All Sides is a documentary on mass incar­cer­a­tion across the nation and the inter­sec­tion of race and poverty within the crim­i­nal jus­tice
and penal sys­tems. It provides a different look at the US prison system and may provoke new conversations about the causes for mass


Education Interrupted: The Growing Use of Suspensions in New York City Public Schools is a report that provides statistics and information regarding the reliance of suspension and exclusion from school that takes place in New York City. It includes the evidence of the growth in use of suspensions as well as recommendations for how a large urban school district can implement alternatives to zero tolerance, including greater support for students and transparency around disciplinary decisions.

The Civil Liberties Project at UCLA has several reports and other resources on the impact of zero tolerance policies in US schools.

Creating Positive Learning Environments: Re-visioning the NYC School Discipline Code, created by Cathlin Goulding, Sarah Schlessinger, Mia Walter & Paola Zalkind, graduate students at Teachers College, Columbia University.