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EWA​, the professional organization dedicated to ​strengthening the community of education ​writers and improving the ​quality of education coverage ​to better inform the public, hosts ​a weekly podcast featuring lively interviews with journalists.

Aug 6, 2014

Eighty percent of Texas prisoners are high school dropouts, a state known for its zero-tolerance approach to school discipline. And as more research finds a link between suspensions and quitting on school early, the evidence is mounting that keeping kids from learning for behavioral reasons hurts their academic outcomes. Against this backdrop is White Middle School in central Texas.

San Antonio Express-News reporter Francisco Vara-Orta spent seven months working on a story that tracked the school’s efforts to rollback its harsh disciplinary rules, implementing a new approach called “restorative justice” that lets the students talk it out in lieu of suspension. The project has led to a drop in suspensions and is gaining support among state leaders. Vera-Orta spoke to EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn about his story and possible changes to the state’s enforcement of school discipline rules.