It is disappointing to see an organization whose vision is “a great public school for every student” standing on the sidelines while children suffer. Sadly today, there are many students who are not experiencing a great public school experience. In schools across the nation, some students are being forced into padded isolation rooms. Some students are being physically restrained in classrooms leading to trauma (PTSD), severe injuries, and even death.
The data shows that students most frequently being secluded and restrained are children with disabilities (autistic, ADHD, emotional disturbance, and others), Black and brown students, and very young students with a trauma history. The disproportionate nature of these abusive and traumatizing practices shows that we are failing to meet the needs of many children in our nation’s schools. How can NEA ensure a great public school for every student when they choose to sit on the sidelines?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”Martin Luther King Jr.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act would make it illegal for any school receiving federal taxpayer money to seclude children and would ban dangerous restraint practices that restrict children’s breathing, such as prone or supine restraint. The bill would also prohibit schools from physically restraining children, except when necessary to protect the safety of students and staff. The bill would provide training for school personnel to address school-expected behavior with evidence-based, proactive strategies, require states to monitor the law’s implementation, and increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”Martin Luther King Jr.
Here’s the thing we can do better. Our children deserve better. Teachers and staff deserve better. We can reduce risk to students, teachers, and staff by reducing the use of restraint and eliminating the use of seclusion. The NEA should support legislation that would bring funding to schools to help them implement a twenty-first century approach to supporting all students.
We encourage NEA President Becky Pringle to end NEA’s neutrality and to do what we can to what you can to ensure a great public school for every student
An exchange with National Education Association
What follows is an email exchange from May 19th, 2023 with a Senior Media Strategist with the NEA.
Question: What is NEA’s position statement on restraint and seclusion in schools? Is NEA planning to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act (2023)?
Response from NEA: NEA remains neutral on the Keeping All Students Safe Act in regards to restraint and seclusion in schools.
Response from AASR: And how do we change that? It is hard to believe that NEA is not interested in creating safer classrooms for students, teachers, and staff. The risk of trauma, injury, and even death increases when physical restraint is used or when children are dragged and forced into seclusion rooms. I would think that NEA would be aligned in reducing risk to teachers. We can reduce risk to students, teachers, and staff by reducing the use of restraint and eliminating the use of seclusion. There is also data that shows when restraint and seclusion are reduced and eliminated, teacher satisfaction increases, and staff turnover decreases. Why would NEA sit on the sidelines or only lobby behind the scenes against the bill?
It is time for NEA to rethink its position. NEA supports using prone restraint on a five-year-old child with disabilities when it remains neutral. NEA supports the forced isolation of a young Black student when it remains neutral. NEA support pushing children down the school-to-prison pipeline by remaining neutral. The mission of NEA is for a great public school for every student. NEA is failing to create “great” and safe public schools for children with disabilities, Black and brown children, and children with a trauma history when you are neutral on supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act. At some point, it will look very bad for NEA to be supporting these practices by failing to take action.
We would love the opportunity to speak to someone in a leadership role at NEA to discuss how we can collaborate. How can we work together towards safer schools for students, teachers, and staff?
Founder & Executive Director
Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint
Response from NEA: None to date, but we remain hopeful.