Dignity in Schools Campaign Listserv
In This Issue
Video on School to Prison Pipeline; Model Code Project
Letter to Office of Civil Rights; Race to the Top
Take Action! Support the Student Safety Act
Sign the DSC Resolution for Ending Pushout
About the DSC

Join Our List

Email [email protected]

   November 2009
Dear Friends,

Last Friday, November 20, marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  The Convention establishes universal standards for the human right to education, recognized by countries around the world, which reflect the principles of dignity, full development, equity and participation. 

Over the next two weeks, the Dignity in Schools Campaign is gathering signatures for our National Resolution for Ending School Pushout.  The Resolution aims to embed these same human rights principles into our local, state and federal education laws, policies and practices in order to guarantee the human rights of all young people.  We urge you to sign the DSC Resolution and ask others in your community to join us.

Visit the ACLU website for more information about the 20th anniversary of the CRC.

Updates - Summit and Model Code Working Group
STPPRoundtableVideo - The School to Prison Pipeline: Is it a Human Rights Violation?
The Dignity in Schools Campaign co-sponsored this Roundtable Dialogue on the School to Prison Pipeline on October 23rd in Chicago with the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Children's Rights Litigation Committee (ABA-CRLC).

Watch video of the dialogue on-line, as speakers discuss discipline policies and practices that push children out of school, and
explore how we can create safe learning environments where the human right to education is protected for all children.

Speakers included: Adilka Pimentel, Make the Road New York, Representative Dora Olivo, District 27 Texas House of Representatives, Judge Brian Huff, Family Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, Marcella Diana, National Education Association, and Chandra Bhatnagar, American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Project.

Model Code Project

The Dialogue was part of a full day conference, Raising Our Hands: Creating a National Strategy for Children's Right to Education and Counsel, sponsored by the ABA-CRLC and the DSC.  As part of the conference, the DSC has been working to develop a model school code that applies human rights standards to promote a human right to a high quality education and dignity in U.S. public schools. 

Read an article from Chicago Catalyst on the model code project and October 23rd dialogue - "Model discipline code would limit suspensions to keep more kids in school," Chicago Catalyst, November 16, 2009.  More updates on the Model Code Project will be available soon!

Updates - Alternatives to Zero-Tolerance WG
DSC Submits Letter to Office of Civil Rights on Data Collection
On November 10, the Dignity in Schools Campaign submitted a letter signed by more than 50 organizations and individuals to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights regarding proposed changes to the Civil Rights Data Collection.

The Department's proposal includes a biennial survey of roughly half the nation's schools (over 7,000 districts), with new requests for data on a range of subjects, including school-related arrests and referrals to law enforcement, expulsions under zero-tolerance school disciplinary policies, and other discipline-related data disaggregated by race and ethnicity, gender, special education status (pursuant to IDEA and Section 504), and LEP status.

two_studentsNew Race to the Top Fund Guidelines Support Efforts to Improve School Climate and Discipline

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released the state application for the Race to the Top Fund, a $4.35 billion dollar competitive grant program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funding. 

In response to recommendations from the Dignity in Schools Campaign and other advocates around the country, the final application guidelines include new language encouraging states to support schools in "implementing approaches to improve school climate and discipline, such as implementing a system of positive behavioral supports (PBS)," and to develop data systems that track school climate programs and discipline (see the summary of Major Changes to Race to the Top).

The attention that Race to the Top pays to school discipline and climate can provide great leverage for state-level advocacy efforts to:
  • Expand training capacity at the state-level for schools and districts to improve school climate (e.g., PBS, restorative practices),
  • Push for implementation of approaches like PBS and restorative practices in underperforming schools, and
  • Collect better state- and district-level data on school discipline and tie it to student and teacher performance.
We want to thank everyone who signed and helped draft the DSC letter regarding the use of stimulus funds and encourage you to become involved with the DSC Alternatives to Zero-Tolerance Working Group.

For our current collection of stimulus-related school discipline advocacy materials, please visit www.dignityinschools.org/alternatives. If you have any suggestions or advocacy materials that we could include please email [email protected].

For more information on Race to the Top, visit:

Support the Student Safety Coalition in NYC
Take Action to Support the Student Safety Act in the New York City Council
If you are a New York City resident, please take action to support the work of the Student Safety Coalition in New York City to pass a bill before the City Council that would increase data reporting requirements around discipline and safety incidents and inform students of their rights to file complaints against school resource officers.

E-Alert from the NYCLU and Student Safety Coalition:

SSA_StudentDid you know that there are more police personnel in New York City's schools than there are on the streets of cities like Boston, Washington DC or Detroit?

The consequences of this enormous police presence are grave: children as young as five have been handcuffed for throwing tantrums and teenagers have been arrested for writing on desks.

The public has a right to know how school safety policies impact our children. It's up to you to make that happen.

The Student Safety Act gives the public basic data on police-student interactions.

Take action now: Tell City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council leaders to pass the Student Safety Act.

The Student Safety Act is the first step in restoring students' rights in the largest school district in the country. Our students must not wait any longer.

Thank you,

The Staff of the New York Civil Liberties Union

ResolutionDSC National Resolution

DSC Resolution Banner

Sign the DSC Resolution and Take Action in Your Community!
DSC members and supporters have worked collaboratively to draft the National Resolution for Ending School Pushout to reframe the national dialogue on school climate and discipline within a human rights framework.  
We are committed to using this Resolution to hold our local schools, communities, district officials, and state and federal policy-makers accountable for creating caring school climates and positive approaches to discipline to keep young people in school.  Click here to read the Resolution.
To sign on, please send your name or the name of your organization as you would like it to appear on the Resolution to [email protected] by November 30.
To help gather signatures for the Resolution and plan a national release in early December with coordinated activites in cities around the country, contact Anna Lambertson
The process of drafting this Resolution began over a year ago when we created a series of questions to ask youth, parents, advocates and educators about what must be done to end pushout and protect students' rights to education and to dignifying learning environments.  We posed these questions to communities around the country, summarized the responses, and presented a draft to attendees at the first DSC conference in June 2009.  Conference attendees provided detailed feedback to improve and enrich the content of the Resolution.

About the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC)
The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a national coalition of advocates, community-based organizations, educators, lawyers and policymakers working together to seek human rights-based solutions to the systemic problem of pushout in U.S. schools.

Visit the website to learn about membership and get involved in the campaign. The DSC has a Core Group that oversees the project, Working Group Members that help shape our work and participate in our ongoing projects, and Allied Organizations that believe in and support the campaign.

Core Group Members:
  • Sarah Biehl, Ohio Poverty Law Center
  • Matthew Cregor, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Rosa Hirji, Children's Rights Litigation Committee, American Bar Association
  • Anna Lambertson, Advocate, Colorado
  • Monica Llorente, Advocate, Chicago, IL
  • Liz Sullivan, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
  • Lori Turner, ACLU of Illinois