This e-mail features new resources on restorative justice and an update from POWER-PAC on their recent victory in Chicago Public Schools and the Juvenile Justice Zine Series. It also includes blog posts on DSC-NY's recent participation at the "Restoring Community in Schools" conference and on the disproportionate "special education" warehousing of Black and Latino youth.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like to get involved by writing to [email protected]

Best wishes,

Dignity in Schools Campaign

Member Group Spotlight

POWER-PAC, a Chicago, IL-based parent-led organization, recently released "Parent to Parent Restorative Justice Guide" (available in English and Spanish), a "how-to" guide for parents and education advocates interested in introducing restorative justice practices in schools to help end the school-to-prison pipeline.

POWER-PAC is a cross-cultural, citywide membership organization of low-income parents whose mission is to build a strong voice for low-income, immigrant and working families by uniting parents across race and community around issues of importance to families. They are currently working on three major campaigns: Elementary Justice: Redirecting the School-to-Prison Pipeline, to eliminate unnecessarily punitive discipline policies and practices that negatively impact children of color in Chicago’s public elementary schools; Recess for All!, seeking the return of recess to Chicago Public Schools by next school year, and The Early Learning Campaign, which aims to reduce structural barriers to enrolling low-income children of color in quality early education programs in Chicago.

They recently scored a major victory in their Recess for All campaign. On Monday, May 23, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released the new CPS guide to implementing recess in which they included recommendations submitted by POWER-PAC. The guide, developed in partnership with POWER-PAC’s parent organization Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), outlines the process by which schools can reinstate recess in the school day.

Find out more about POWER-PAC.

From the DSC Blog

DSC-NY Organizing for Change at IIRP Conference
by Shoshi Chowdhury, Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY
The Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY Chapter held a session on "Organizing for Change" at the one day conference, "Restoring Community in Schools: Promoting Positive Alternatives to the School to Prison Pipeline," hosted by the International Institute for Restorative Practices on May, 4 at the CUNY Grad Center. The conference was attended by diverse stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, principals, Department of Education officials, advocates, and policy makers.
Read more

Special Education Means No Education for Many Youth of Color
by Ernest Saadiq-Morris, Urban Youth Justice
Special education warehousing of Black youth and other youth of color is rampant in too many urban school districts. Special education warehousing is the disproportionate removal of youth of color from general education classrooms through referrals to special education classrooms that segregate them from the student population. Disproportionality occurs when the percentage of Black youth in special education —or a similarly situated special education subgroup, such as Latino/Hispanic English Language Learner students— is not proportionate to their percentage in the school or district’s general population.
Read more

In The News

More Schools Rethinking Zero-Tolerance Discipline Stand
by Donna St. George (Washington Post, June 1, 2011)
"This rethinking has come in North Carolina and Denver, in Baltimore and Los Angeles — part of a phenomenon driven by high suspension rates, community pressure, legal action and research findings. In the Washington region, Fairfax County is considering policy changes after a wave of community concern; school leaders in the District and Prince George’s, Arlington and Montgomery counties have pursued new ideas, too."
Read more

No Tolerance for Zero Tolerance Policies
by Tina Dove (Daily Kos, June 1, 2011)
"Relying on zero tolerance policies – which are disproportionately meted out against minority and poor children – robs teachers, administrators and parents of the chance to help children learn from their mistakes and keep them engaged in the classroom, instead of idling at home or in the streets."
Read more

The OCR as a Tool in Dismantling the School-To-Prison Pipeline
by Rosa K. Hirji and Benétta M. Standly (Article on the American Bar Association website, May 23, 2011)
"The movement against the “school-to-prison pipeline” must examine the significance of this change in the investigation of racial disparities in school discipline in the context of its overall goals. From this perspective, how much can we rely on the OCR to remedy the school-to-prison pipeline in communities of color, and does this represent a step forward?"
Read more

During Graduation Time, Let Us Reject The School-To-Prison Pipeline
by Annette Fuentes (The Progressive, May 12, 2011)
"A national coalition of educators, legal and civil rights advocates is doing just that. They’ve come together to form the Dignity in Schools Campaign, which is calling on Congress to replace a zero-tolerance approach to safety and discipline with something completely different: positive behavioral supports. In this model, adopted by Los Angeles schools, students’ good behaviors are rewarded and their bad behaviors are viewed as an opportunity for learning and remediation."
Read more

Updates from Local Chapters

The Dignity in Schools Campaign New York Chapter is happy to announce that Shosi Chowdury has joined us as the DSC-NY coordinator. She joined DSC-NY after working as a youth organizer with Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM) where she conducted street and school outreach to increase the organization’s membership base of South Asian youth. Over the years she has been involved in campaigns and coalition work which successfully created policy changes in the New York City Department of Education to promote transparency on school discipline issues. Welcome Shoshi!

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Parent to Parent Restorative Justice Guide
"Parent to Parent Restorative Justice Guide" (available in English and Spanish) is a "how-to" guide for parents and education advocates interested in working to introduce Restorative Justice practices in schools to help end the school-to-prison pipeline. These new resources were created and published by COFI/POWER PAC based on their work in Chicago Public Schools.
Click here to download the English version.
Click here to download the Spanish version.

Juvenile Justice Zine Series

These four juvenile justice zines were created by teaching artists, Rachel Marie-Crane Williams and Elgin-Bokari T. Smith; and youth at the Chicago Freedom School and the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The
zine series was developed in conjunction with an exhibition called “Unfinished Business – Juvenile Justice,” a community-curated show that links the founding of the nation’s first juvenile court in 1899 with the pressing contemporary issues of juvenile justice and prison reform.

A Graphic History of Juvenile Justice in Illinois

Youth Stories

Girls in The System

The School To Prison Pipeline Zine

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 to learn more.

DIGNITY IN SCHOOLS | 90 JOHN ST. STE 308, NEW YORK, NY 10038 | TEL: (212) 253-1710 Ext. 317 | FAX (212) 385-6124 | [email protected]