For years, legislators sang the praises of juvenile review boards, because community-based JRBs helped kids succeed more frequently– and more cheaply – than the juvenile justice system. But when the General Assembly moved juvenile justice from one state agency to another, it neglected to move the funding for JRBs that serve our largest cities. That means fewer second chances and fewer essential services – mainly for young people of color and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our state frequently cannot find the money to support these youth, though the funding for the more expensive strategies of prosecution and even incarceration is never in short supply.
Before students of all colors can succeed equally in Connecticut’s public schools, we must be bluntly honest about why disparities exist. An achievement gap would exist if we gave every student equal opportunities and some children still failed to achieve. In a myriad ways, we do not give all our children the same opportunities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in school discipline policies that exclude children from the classroom.