Using Learning Labs to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline and Policing in King County, Washington

Using Learning Labs to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline and Policing in King County, Washington

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: February 28th, 2022

The University of Washington Population Health Initiative (UW PHI) announced the award of 11 Tier 1 pilot grants to teams representing researchers from nine different UW schools and colleges for Winter. HIPRC was among the 11 recipients of the grant.

Project Investigators
Monica Vavilala, Director, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Keith Hullenaar, Trainee, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Department of Epidemiology
Marcus Stubblefield, King County Executive Office, Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget
Chelsea Hicks, Trainee, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Department of Pediatrics

Project abstract
According to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), 2.5 million public school students in the United States experienced an out-of-school suspension, over 100,000 received expulsions, and over 250,000 were reported to the police in the 2017- 2018 academic year. A disproportionate number of these students came from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. Academic achievement is tied to future health, social and economic outcomes. Thus, exclusionary discipline and over-policing deny youth educational opportunities and hinder efforts to address downstream racial and ethnic inequities in population health and well-being.

This proposed pilot project aims to address these disparities through designing a pilot school-based learning lab—a research-based process that brings together local and diverse stakeholders to inclusively problem solve about racial and ethnic disparities in school discipline and policing. Learning labs follow Engeström’s principles of expansive learning—a collective activity that unites diverse individual perspectives and qualitatively examines, reconceptualizes, and changes system processes.

The pilot project has three aims. The first aim is to expand existing relationships with local stakeholders in King County—including students and their families, school staff and administrators, and community leaders—who could support or champion school-based learning labs in local schools. The second aim is to conduct a needs assessment with stakeholder partners to assess racial and ethnic disparities in student discipline and policing in their school community. The third aim is to design a pilot school-based learning lab that addresses stakeholder-identified problems regarding racial and ethnic disparities in student discipline and policing in their school community.

Funding Total: $25,000

Background:

The initiative’s Tier 1 pilot grant program supports researchers in laying an interdisciplinary foundation for a future project to generate proof-of-concept. UW PHI grant research teams who will conduct foundational research on population health challenges ranging from COVID 19 to climate change to equity to misinformation. The Population Health Initiative seeks to create a world where all people can live healthier and more fulfilling lives. In support of that vision, the initiative is pleased to offer population health pilot research grants that are intended to encourage the development of new interdisciplinary collaborations among investigators – and with community-based partners – for projects that address critical challenges to population health.

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