Thank you all for making this year's Dignity in Schools Campaign National Week of Action on School Pushout a great success!
Throughout the week of October 1-8, 2011, thousands of parents, youth, and educators took part in actions and events in 28 cities to expose the school pushout crisis in our nation and advocate for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.
This e-mail contains some highlights from this year's Week of Action, video footage and photos from some of the events, as well as news coverage from around the country.
If you or your organization participated in the National Week of Action please remember to send us your photos and/or video footage by contacting Joao Da Silva, DSC Communication Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-253-1710 Ext 317.
Highlights from the Week of Action
LOS ANGELES, CA
On Wednesday, October 5th, DSC-Los Angeles hosted a virtual rally with participants from Fresno, Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Over 100 people from Los Angeles alone participated in the rally with many more video-conferencing in from other cities. Claudia Gomez of the Youth Justice Coalition shared her story of being pushed out of the Los Angeles Unified School District through a combination of a lack of appropriate support services, truancy ticketing, suspensions and expulsion. Claudia, who successfully graduated from high school in 2008, called for the protection of students’ human right to education, saying “education with dignity recognizes the school as a community and education as a human right, not just a cycle of tests and punishments.” Other speakers included representatives from DSC-LA member groups CADRE, CDF-CA, the Community Rights Campaign of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, and Public Counsel.
- Click here to view photos from the DSC-LA event.
- Video footage from DSC-LA event: Part 1 & Part 2.
On Wednesday, October 5th, Padres y Jovenes Unidos launched its 100 Days of Colorado Stories. Padres members Dalilah Vasquez and her father shared the first story of the series, relating her personal experience starting in middle school with the unnecessary involvement of law enforcement in minor discipline incidents. Padres will continue to release one story a day until the January 12th start of the Colorado legislative session as part of their work to pass state legislation that: limits police interference in schools to serious threats to school safety; provides guidance to school staff and police officers; and provides support for alternatives that focus on students’ needs and puts their education first.
- Click here to view photos from the Denver, CO event.
- Video footage from the Padres y Jovenes Unidos event in Denver, CO.
LEXINGTON & McCOMB, MS
With over 15 forums and actions taking place in different cities and towns throughout the state, Mississippi had the most events during the Week of Action. For example, on Saturday, October 1 youth organizers with the Nollie Jenkins Family Center kicked-off the Week of Action with a “Know Your Rights” training in Lexington, MS. On Tuesday, October 4th, youth members of the MS Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse and the McComb Youth Council NAACP hosted a community round-table and educational forum for parents, students and community leaders in McComb, MS.
- Music Video: “Pushout is Dissatisfaction" by Nollie Jenkins Family Center.
- See photos from the MS Coalition community round-table.
NEW YORK, NY
On October 4th, over 100 students, parents, advocates, and teachers from DSC-New York held a rally at City Hall Park followed by a march to police headquarters to speak out against punitive discipline policies and over policing in public schools. Speakers at the event included representatives from DSC-New York member groups DRUM, NSA Parent Action Committee, Sistas and Brothas United, and Teachers Unite, as well as Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm. As part of the rally, the Bushwick Campus Street Theatre group, Bushwick Stage Nerds, performed a visual representation of students passing through a metal detector as they enter school in the morning, getting stopped and searched by a school safety officer and being made late to class.
- Click here to view photos from the DSC-NY rally.
- Click here for video from the DSC-NY rally.
On Wednesday, October 5th, the DSC, National Education Policy Center (NEPC), and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform hosted a press briefing at the National Press Club for the release of the report "Discipline Policies, Successful Schools and Racial Justice." The report, authored by Daniel Losen of The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto de Derechos Civiles at UCLA, analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and found that more than 28% of Black middle school boys had been suspended at least once, compared with 10% of white males nationwide.
Speakers at the press briefing included DSC members Wanda Parker, a parent organizer with Citizens for a Better Greenville (Greenville, MS), and Edward Ward, a youth member of Blocks Together (Chicago, IL).
- Click here for videos from the NEPC Conference.
News Coverage of the DSC Week of Action
School Discipline Policies in Colorado Too Harsh? Lawmakers and Advocates Say Yes
By Melanie Asmar, Denver Times, 10/11/11
"School discipline, once considered too lax, has now swung too far in the opposite direction, say several state lawmakers and child advocates. As such, Colorado is one of a growing number of places rethinking harsh, 'zero-tolerance' policies that lead to students being jailed for writing on bathroom stalls with marker and charged with felony assault for fighting in the hallway."
Protestors Chant for an End to Excessive Suspensions of Students
By Kait Richmond, Pavement Pieces, 10/06/11
"Nilesh Vishwasrao should be a freshman in college, making new friends and studying English literature. Instead, he is nearly six months behind after being what he calls 'pushed out' of high school. Vishwasrao, 18, of Jackson Heights, Queens, was suspended several times in high school for minor offenses, such as chewing gum or wearing a hat. But when they added up, the guidance counselor called in Vishwasrao’s father."
Padres y Jóvenes Unidos Proponen Alternativas al Sistema Disciplinario Escolar
Viva Colorado, 10/06/11
"Decenas de miembros de la organización comunitaria Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, de Denver, se reunieron el 5 de octubre frente al capitolio estatal para presentar alternativas al sistema disciplinario escolar actual, al que consideran como normas de castigo."
Positive School Environments, Not Metal Detectors, Are the Key to Student Success
By Claudia Gomez and Leslie Mendoza, The Eastside Sun, 10/06/11
"Graduating from high school is the dream of most L.A. students. We understand that education and a diploma can make the difference between a healthy, successful future and a dead-end job, or worse, the criminal justice system. But just getting to and staying in school can be a daily struggle, especially for those of us coming from the poorest communities. And when we arrive at campus, we often feel unwelcome and unmotivated in a climate where police and parole officers may outnumber counselors, and teacher layoffs create overcrowded classes."
Protesta por Politica de Cero Tolerencia
KCEC News, 10/05/11
"Las escuelas del país cuentan con una política de cero tolerancia en cuanto a la disciplina de los estudiantes y colorado no es la excepción. Por lo que un grupo de padres y defensores de los estudiantes está protestando en estos momentos frente al capitolio estatal."
Study Finds Minority Students Get Harsher Punishments
By Nirvi Shah, Education Week, 10/5/11
"Black and Hispanic students are far more likely to be kicked out of school when they break the rules, including some that often have nothing to do with keeping students safe, according to a new report from a civil rights research and advocacy group."
Minority Students Face Harsher Punishments, Report Shows
Huffington Post, 10/5/11
"Black and Latino students are disproportionately more likely to experience harsher punishments by schools for infractions and misbehaviors, according to a new report by the National Education Policy Center."
National report highlights punitive suspensions of minority students, which are on the rise in Baltimore
The Baltimore Sun, 10/5/11
"A national report released today underscores the widely-known disparity in suspensions of minority students and their non-minority counterparts.In the report, Maryland is highlighted for its efforts to curb punitive suspensions and expulsions, and Baltimore is highlighted for its effort of significantly reducing its suspension rate in recent years--though the number of suspensions in the district is up this year, including those for 'soft offenses' like disrespect and insubordination."
Treme Center to Host Forum on School Discipline Policies Tonight
By Andrew Vanacore, The Times-Picayune, 10/04/11
"Local students will share their stories about school discipline policies in New Orleans during a forum at the Treme Center tonight, an event organized by Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools and other groups.It's being put on as a part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign National Week of Action on School Pushout."
New York's Pushout Crisis: Why Students Don't Graduate
By Emily Shaw, Liz Sullivan and Refat Shoshi Chowdhury, Gotham Gazette, 09/27/11
"Luke was supposed to receive his high school diploma this year, but, like many others, he did not. A 16-year-old black student, he was placed in special education with a label of 'emotional disturbance.' Luke was attending a high school in District 75, the citywide district for special education, where students with disabilities are isolated from their peers without disabilities. It was not where Luke was supposed to be."
Organizations that took part in the National Week of Action include:
Access Living, ACLU of Eastern Missouri, ACLU of Pennsylvania, ACLU of Southern California, Action Communication and Education Reform, Activists With A Purpose, Advocates for Children of New York, Advocates for Children's Services (a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina), Advocates for Justice and Education, Atlanta Community Engagement Team (ACET), Black Organizing Project, Blocks Together, Boston Parent Organizing Network (BPON), Boston Student Advisory Council, Boston-area Youth Organizing Project, Center for Community Alternatives, Children’s Defense Fund – California, Children's Defense Fund - New York, Citizens for a Better Greenville, COFI, Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE), Community Rights Campaign of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, Concerned Citizens for a Better Tunica County, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Dignity in Schools – NY, DSC-Los Angeles, Education Not Incarceration, Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), Fannie Lou Hamer Center for Change, Freedom House, Future of Tomorrow, Generation Y, Girls for Gender Equity, Gwinnett STOPP, Interfaith Children's Movement, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL), Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office, Make the Road New York, Mass Transit Street Theatre, Morehouse Chapter of the NAACP, MS Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, Parents Organized to Win, Educate and Renew - Policy Action Council (POWER-PAC), Portland Parent Union, Power U Center for Social Change, Public Counsel, Safe Schools Healthy Students - New Orleans Recovery District, Sistas and Brothas United, SNAPPS, Sunflower County Parents and Students Organization, Teachers Unite, The Commutation Project, Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), West Town Leadership United (WTLU), Women of God's Design Ministry, Young Adults Striving for Success (YASS), Young People's Project - Greater Boston, Youth Innovation Movement Solutions, Youth Justice Coalition, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Youth on Board, Youth on the Move, YWCA of the Greater Triangle.
Video PSA: National Week of Action
Photos from the National Week of Action
Week of Action Resources
- Download, read, and share the DSC National Week of Action Platform in English, and/or in Spanish.
- Download the National Week of Action flyer.
- Learn more about school pushout with our factsheets.
- Sign onto our National Resolution for Ending School Pushout.
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.