school discipline

Reframing School Discipline: A Strategic Communications Playbook

July 3, 2017

How can advocates for more effective, more equitable approaches to school discipline talk about this issue in a way that deepens understanding, attracts new allies, and builds a larger constituency for meaningful change?

This strategic messaging playbook offers guidance. It outlines 12 evidence-based framing strategies that communicators in the education, justice, and civil rights sectors can use to challenge exclusionary discipline policies, build support for reducing racial disparities in disciplinary outcomes, and cultivate awareness of alternative approaches such as restorative justice and trauma-informed schools.

The recommendations are based on a Strategic Frame Analysis® conducted by the FrameWorks Institute. Since 1999, FrameWorks research has demonstrated that effective communications can help activate the public’s engagement with complex social issues—such as the reforms needed to ensure that school climates support positive outcomes for all children. FrameWorks’ approach begins by investigating the patterns of thinking that structure public opinion on social issues, and then systematically develops and tests different ways of translating expert views to the public. The goal is to find the most effective ways of inviting the public into conversations on pressing policy topics, so that community decision-making can be more informed by research and evidence.

In advancing greater social justice in the United States, it is critical to ensure that the nation’s schools serve as gateways to fuller participation in economic, social, and political life, particularly for youth of color and other marginalized groups. We hope that you find these framing tools and techniques helpful in your work to support greater fairness, equality, and justice in American school discipline.