Decatur Revisited: Expelled Youth Face Life Adrift: Changing Tunes

October 1, 2000

When the Gun-Free Schools Act was passed in 1994, little was said about what would happen to expelled students. Over the last five years the tenor of the discourse at the federal level has changed substantially, with a greater emphasis on reducing suspensions and expulsions, and continuing the education of expelled students.

1995: "I am proud of the fact that we fought last year for a law requiring states to expel students for a year if they bring guns to school — no excuses, zero tolerance. That's something the government ought to stand for."

President Bill Clinton, remarks by the President on Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

1997: "These numbers are irrefutable proof that President Clinton's plan to make our schools safe and drug-free is working."

Vice President Al Gore, announcing that 6,276 students were expelled for bringing weapons to school in 1995-96.

1999: "While we believe that students who bring firearms to schools must be removed from the regular classroom, we continue to be concerned about what happens to those troubled students who are expelled from school."

U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, giving testimony on the administration's proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, before the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies.

2000: "No child should ever be denied an education. Giving up on troubled young people makes for a missed opportunity — they deserve more than being dismissed or ignored. Strong alternative programs and strategies such as these funded today can reduce the factors that lead young people into poverty and crime and encourage them to stay in school, graduate and become productive members of society."

U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, announcing $10 million for the "Alternative Strategies to Reduce Student Suspensions and Expulsions and Ensure Educational Progress Program."

"Decatur Revisited: Expelled Youth Face Life Adrift: Changing Tunes." Youth Today, October 2000, p. 37.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.