Have you heard of the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP)? The STPP is the result of many factors, such as laws that disproportionately target and punish Black and Brown communities, that have impacted how school discipline is carried out. With statistics such as the school suspension rate for Black girls being six times higher than white girls, there is no denying the inequities present in school districts today. Policies and procedures that support the STTP are in direct conflict with a commitment all nurses should have to ethics and equity.
A team of researchers recently conducted a review of fourteen recent research articles regarding school-based exclusionary discipline and developed recommendations all school nurses can put in to practice to ameliorate such forms of injustice rooted in racism. Lead author Dr. Shoshana Aronowitz reports, “school nursing is important to me because I am very passionate about nursing’s role outside of traditional hospital and clinical settings. As nurses, we have an important role to play in advancing health equity, and we can’t adequately do it if we are only working in traditional health care spaces”. Knowing that school health is not a traditional health care space, and that school nursing is a specialty with our own practice model, the recommendations of Dr. S. Aronowitz and team members BoRam Kim and Dr. Teri Aronowitz are presented specifically in the context of the 21st Century Framework for School Nursing Practice. The researchers provide comprehensive and actionable steps school nurses can take in regards to care coordination, leadership, quality improvement, and community/public health. Dr. S. Aronowitz continues, “we have opportunities to be influential in numerous roles to make a difference in the lives of youth- I think that intervening at the school-level is one of them.”
We encourage NCSNs to access the article currently published online with the Journal of School Nursing and consider how they may participate in the dismantling of the STTP in their own districts.