As 2011 comes to an end, members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign around the country continue to work, strategize and take action to stop the school pushout crisis and implement positive alternatives to harsh disciplinary practices that suspend, expel and push our young people into prisons and low-wage jobs.
After a very successful DSC National Week of Action in October, with events held in 28 cities across 14 states, we held our Annual Membership Meeting on December 2-4, bringing over 100 members together in New Orleans, LA. At this annual face-to-face meeting, members of the DSC shared updates on their local work, discussed major campaign decisions, and planned our work for the year ahead.
This e-mail features photos from our Membership Meeting and resources from member groups, a video from Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) documenting their 3-year campaign to include student feedback in teacher evaluations, and new blog posts on discrimination in school choice, the ineffectiveness of zero tolerance to address bullying, and local efforts to create positive school climates for Louisiana’s youth.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like to get involved by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Dignity in Schools Campaign on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Dignity in Schools Campaign
Member Group Spotlight
For the past three years, student organizers of the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) have been working to ensure that students' voices are heard and that their opinions and experiences are taken into account in decisions about their education. Through their “We Are the Ones in the Classroom…Ask Us!” Campaign, BSAC has fought to include student feedback in teacher evaluations.
As of June of 2011, after organizing and holding public rallies to gain support from students, teachers, and administrators, the MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted YES to make student feedback a mandatory component of the educator evaluation policy. BSAC produced a 5+ minute video that documents their campaign and their victories along the way. Through interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, this video tells the compelling story about why constructive feedback and student evaluation of teachers is important for all of us interested in improving the quality of education in this country.
Watch "We Are the Ones in the Classroom… Ask Us!" now.
From the DSC Blog
School Choice Discrimination Leaves No Choice for Vulnerable Youth of Color
by Ernest Saadiq-Morris, Urban Youth Justice
The term school choice is commonly used by corporate education reformers as a grotesque misnomer to disguise their attempted end-run around the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal recognition in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) of the constitutional right of all children to equal educational opportunity, based upon the absolute rejection of the “separate but equal” concept of segregated public education.
National Survey Results Prove It… Our Youth Need Help Addressing Harassment and Bullying in Schools
by Catherine Kirchhoff, Dignity in Schools Campaign
If you are: The boy who goes to school wearing lipstick and gets bullied. The girl who was not expecting a racy photo she took for the boy she was dating to be forwarded to members of her class to result in receiving, “U R a slut” text messages. The student who gets made fun of by both educators and peers because she has same-sex parents. The student who was groped inappropriately by another walking down the hall.
Creating Positive School Climates for Louisiana’s Students
by Damekia Morgan, Dignity in Schools Campaign-Louisiana
On October 4, 2011, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), Juvenile Justice of Louisiana (JJPL), Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative, and Young Adults Striving for Success (YASS) hosted a call-to-action meeting to urge the citizens of the city of New Orleans to come together to end school push out.
In The News
School Zero Tolerance Kills Dreams, Hurts the Economy
by Kathy Mulady (Equal Voice Newspaper, November 23, 2011)
"At a time when competition for jobs is fierce and even entry-level positions require a high school or college degree, anyone without a high school diploma need not apply. Yet, each year, more than a million students in the United States leave high school without graduating. Once assumed to be dropouts, many who leave are, in reality, pushed out."
In Los Angeles, Truancy Tickets Hit Kids of Color
by Robin Urevich (HealthyCal.org, November 15, 2011)
"In Los Angeles, a change in the city’s daytime curfew law is on the City Council agenda. The law is aimed at keeping kids in school, but activists have waged a two-year battle against it, saying it’s punitive, discriminatory and counter-productive. For years, students who were on the street after classes started, even those who were rushing toward school, faced a $250 fine. Their parents were forced to miss work to attend court hearings."
When Zero Tolerance Goes Too Far
by Charles Fox (Special Education Law Blog, November 30, 2011)
"In our post-Columbine world and in an understandable effort to ensure that schools are safe, schools enacted 'zero tolerance policies' resulting in expulsions or suspensions for infractions involving weapons, drugs, or other violent acts. These policies were designed to ensure that schools respond harshly and consistently to serious student misconduct. With time, however, the list of violations for which zero tolerance applies has been broadened to cover acts involving defiance, noncompliance, or disrespect. "
Nearly All Student Arrests in NYC Public Schools Target Black and Latino Males
by Jorge Rivas (Colorlines, November 30, 2011)
"New York City police officers arrested or ticketed an average of four students per day in the city’s schools over a four-month period this summer and fall. Out of 63 arrests in that time period, all but four of them were black or Latino kids, Gotham Schools reports. The statistics released on Monday came under the terms of the Student Safety Act, a law the City Council passed last year to require transparency about arrests made by the New York Police Department in city schools."
Schools Are Overreacting to Misbehaving Students
Editorial (The Washington Post, November 29, 2011)
"A student misbehaves and gets sent to the principal and then home. It’s a scenario that gets played out in countless classrooms every day; so commonplace is the practice that it’s generally seen as no big deal. But as a new report on school discipline in Virginia makes clear, the effects of lost school time can be devastating and — contrary to conventional thinking — do little to improve student behavior or make schools safer."
2012 School-to-Prison-Pipeline Regional Action Camps
Presented by Advancement Project in partnership with AEJ, DSC, Labor/Community Strategy Center, Padres & Jovenes Unidos, Youth United for Change and other local partners.
Western Region - Los Angeles, CA February 10-12
Southern Region - Raleigh/Durham, NC March 2-4
Midwestern Region - Chicago, IL April 13-15
Northeastern Region - New York, NY June 1-3
The overuse of harsh zero-tolerance measures, police, and juvenile courts in addressing school disciplinary issues has led to the needless pushout and criminalization of countless youth across America. In response, a growing national movement has emerged to dismantle this School-to-Prison-Pipeline. This grassroots-led effort has already achieved important victories, and the momentum for change is building, but there is much more to be done.
Join with youth and adult advocates from across the country at one of the 2012 School-to-Prison-Pipeline Regional Action Camps.
Click here to find our more!
Podcast: Students Organize Around the Root Causes of School Pushout
This 4-minute report features students' voices from a recent event called Youth Speak-Out Against Push Out. This event was organized by the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools and Education Not Incarceration of Delaware Valley, as part of the Dignity in Schools National Week of Action on School Pushout.
Click here to listen!
Youth Organizing for Educational Change
This new report from the Forum for Youth Investment features brief case studies of seven youth organizing efforts across the United States including campaigns by Southern Echo and Youth United for Change. They show what can happen when young people are both informed members of the educational community and engaged changed-makers.
Click here to download.
Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools
A new report from the Justice Policy Institute shows that increases in the presence of law enforcement in schools has coincided with increases in referrals to the justice system, especially for minor offenses like disorderly conduct. This is causing lasting harm to youth, disrupting the educational process and leading to suspension, expulsion, or other alienation from school. This sets youth on a track to drop out and puts them at greater risk of becoming involved in the justice system later on, all at tremendous costs for taxpayers as well as the youth themselves and their communities.
Click here to download.
Media Outreach & Communications Webinars
As part of the member support offered to members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign's, the DSC offers online and in-person workshops on media outreach and communications strategy. The materials listed below are PDF file versions of the webinars used during these sessions. Please feel free to download and share these resources. Please feel free to download and share these resources.
Click here download the webinars
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.