We are pleased to announce that we will be holding our second Days at the Capitol event this April. We will meet in Washington, DC to engage and strategize around our campaign to end school pushout and ensure that all students are treated with dignity.
This update includes new resources from Youth United for Change, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women, and from the ACLU of Florida, Advancement Project, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. It also includes four new blog posts on Obama's "Race to the Top", Detroit public school closings, the story of Rochelle Pitman and her fight to defend her son against an unjust juvenile justice system, the disastrous effects of zero tolerance policies in the Fairfax, Virginia school district, and much more.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to get involved by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dignity in Schools Campaign
Working Group Update
From April 10-13, members of the DSC Local/State Campaign Working Group representing 10 states will travel to Washington, DC for our second DSC Days at the Capitol event. DSC will be meeting with members of Congress to discuss our priorities for federal policy change related to improving school climate and discipline to help end school pushout and guarantee students' rights to education and dignity. Stay tuned for more information.
You can read more about our first Days at the Capitol event from September 2010 on our website.
Member Group Spotlight
The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools is a grassroots youth-led citywide coalition of high school and middle school students from nine youth leadership organizations in Philadelphia (including Philadelphia Student Union, Youth United for Change, Asian Americans United and many more), defying language, ethnic, and neighborhood divides to end all forms of school violence without pushing students into the criminal justice system.
The campaign will be launching its platform to oppose state budget cuts on Wednesday, March 30th at 4:00 pm in Philadelphia, PA. Members of the coalition will be marching from the Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert St. to Broad and Spring Garden. The campaign will also host a CNS Platform Launch and Briefing on Tuesday, March 22nd at 5:00 p.m. at the United Way Building (Lobby 2) at 1709 Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA.
Click here to visit their website and learn more.
From the DSC Blog
The American Pipe Dream: Winning the Future Without Youth of Color
by Ernest Saadiq Morris, Urban Youth Justice
Blind support of a business-modeled reform agenda that prioritizes value-added evaluation of standardized testing performance without addressing institutional learning and discipline disparities will only continue the devaluation of students of color and the disenfranchisement of their right to equal educational opportunity. Education reform that emphasizes an individualized learning process that prepares each student with critical thinking, problem solving, and trade skills is the best possible stimulus investment of public dollars.
Giving Up On Poor Black Children: The Tragic Case of Detroit
by Mariame Kaba, Project NIA
The Detroit school system, which has been admittedly mis-managed, has been hemorrhaging students for years. A recent study suggests that “[a]t more than half of Michigan's high schools, fewer than 10% of students graduating this spring are college ready." Unsurprisingly most of these students are concentrated in the Detroit public school system. With such dismal results, some will argue that in Detroit, the school to prison pipeline is already in full effect. I do not disagree with this assessment.
Zero Tolerance, Zero Consideration
by Joao Da Silva, Dignity in Schools
We will never know what was going through Nick Stuban’s mind when he decided to take his own life on January 20, 2011. We will never fully understand nor even begin to grasp what this 15-year old high school student was dealing with. But his loved ones tell us that he was emotionally distraught after he was suspended and referred for expulsion from the Fairfax, VA high school that he considered his “second home.”
How 2 Minutes Can Change Your Entire Life: An Intimate Portrayal of a Black Mother’s Fight to Save Her Son
by Kendra Williby, Community Rights Organizer
In the spring of 2008, Mrs. Rochelle Pitman made one of the most difficult yet strikingly necessary decisions in her adult life. As a mother of three boys and one daughter, she decided to quit her job so she could attend to her son Jeremy’s educational needs. While she understood the economic impact that this would have on her immediate and extended family whom she helped support, she refused, as she said, “to lose her son to the streets.”
In The News
Elementary School Suspensions, Ages 4 to 10, Jump 76% Under Mayor Bloomberg's Control of Schools
by Rachel Monahan (NY Daily News, March 10, 2011)
"Elementary school-age students were hit with 6,119 suspensions in the 2008-09 school year - up from 3,469 in 2002-03, a New York Civil Liberties Union analysis of city stats shows. City Education Department officials attributed the increase in suspensions to a 'zero tolerance' policy that began in 2005 requiring suspensions for any kid caught fighting."
Phillipsburg Middle School Principal Richard Kistler Changes School's Culture Through Discipline, Structure and Accountability
by Sarah M. Wojcik (The Express-Times, March 7, 2011)
"Kistler helped create the Liner School -an alternative to traditional in-school suspension- and Liner Period, which is 35 minutes tacked on to each day to help kids refine their academics in areas they need the most help. Come to school, behave, get your work done is the mantra Kistler brought from the alternative setting. 'When they're working, they're learning; when they're learning they're staying out of trouble,' Kistler said. "
Group Tackles Dropout Crisis
by Valerie Russ (The Philadelphia Daily News, Feb 18, 2011)
"The report, Pushed Out: Youth Voices on the Dropout Crisis in Philadelphia, found that only 57 percent of Philadelphia's students graduate from high school within four years and only 63 percent graduate within six years. The study argues that many city students don't "drop out" of school, as much as they are 'pushed out' by faulty disciplinary policies and teaching, and by classroom situations that alienate students and their parents."
The Talking Cure: Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System
by Julia Dahl (The Crime Report, Feb 16, 2011)
"Our modern criminal justice system is built on the theory of 'retributive' justice: commit a crime, receive a punishment. What this system ignores, say restorative justice proponents, is the harm a crime causes, both to victim and community. It thus also makes it nearly impossible for a perpetrator to meaningfully repair the harm done."
Still Haven’t Shut Off the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s New Zero-Tolerance Law
This report by the ACLU of Florida, Advancement Project, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP finds that the implementation of Florida’s new zero-tolerance law has fallen substantially short of what is needed to adequately address the over-criminalization of Florida’s youth and the over-reliance on exclusionary discipline by Florida’s schools.
Youth in Action Report: Pushed Out - Youth Voices on the Dropout Crisis in Philadelphia
The research and writing of this report were completed by members of Youth United for Change's Pushout Chapter, a group of out-of-school youth and students in alternative schools and programs. Pushed Out was supported with lead funding from Project U-Turn.
Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women
This new website is a roadmap for the Taskforce's action steps to end violence against girls and young women. It includes a section on violence and education featuring Blocks Together's work to implement restorative justive in Chicago Public Schools.
Learn more at: www.chitaskforce.org
About the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC)
The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a national coalition of youth, parents, advocates, community-based organizations, educators and policymakers working together to seek human rights-based solutions to the systemic problem of pushout in U.S. schools.
Visit us at www.dignityinschools.org to learn more.