Spring is here and we've already got a good start to the year with the Dignity in Schools Campaign's first small convening, Voices of Power: Taking Control of Meetings with Policymakers, which was held during the weekend of March 30 - April 1 in Norcross, GA. Members of the DSC from throughout the country joined together for two days of sharing experiences and strategies for how to advocate effectively with legislators and decision-makers to end school pushout. You can see photos from this event here.
Additionally, we are very excited to announce that the Dignity in Schools Campaign now has a National Field Organizer! We welcome Fernando Martinez who has joined the DSC national staff. Fernando will support and assist our current member groups and help us expand and grow by organizing and recruiting new members around the country.
This e-mail features a link to a video documenting the school pushout crisis in Florida, a report on Restorative Justice Practices in Chicago Public Schools, the DSC's comments on the Department of Education's Proposed Teacher Incentive Fund, and education news from around the country.
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 Groups Spotlight
Power U Center for Social Change
Florida Students Caught in School-to-Prison Pipeline
Power U Center for Social Change, a Miami-based community organization and member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, together with the Advancement Project produced and released this video documenting the school discipline crisis in the State of Florida. The video is intended to serve as a conversation starter in the effort to dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline, push for common sense discipline and ensure that every student receives a high quality education. Please take a few minutes to view it and share it!
Click here to watch the video.
High Hopes Campaign Issues A New Report About Restorative Justice in Chicago Public Schools
In March, The High HOPES Campaign released, "From Policy to Standard Practice: Restorative Justice in Chicago Public Schools." The data collected in this report show that suspensions and expulsions have not made Chicago Public Schools safer, but instead have negatively affected the learning environment, resulted in long-term damaging effects on student behavior, learning and academic achievement, and contributed to higher dropout rates and violence. Campaign members collected data and met with restorative justice experts, practitioners, educators, youth, parents, and community members and found that restorative justice practices can improve school attendance, student achievement, school safety and culture.
Key recommendations from the report call for Chicago Public Schools to:
The High HOPES (Healing Over the Punishment of Expulsions and Suspensions) Campaign is a coalition of Chicago-based community organizations including Access Living, Community Renewal Society, Enlace Chicago, ONE (Organization of the NorthEast), Trinity United Church of Christ, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Blocks Together and POWER-PAC who are also members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign. They join together in advocating for CPS to reduce suspensions and expulsions through the implementation of restorative justice programs and other positive alternatives.
- Commit to and proactively pursue a district wide reduction in suspensions and expulsions by 40 percent in the coming school year.
- Overcome current barriers to the implementation of restorative justice by developing a sustainable, district wide plan for rolling out these practices in schools.
- Fully fund and support implementation by creating full-time restorative justice coordinator positions in each school and offering ongoing training and technical assistance.
- Re-prioritize spending on school safety by diverting costly investments in policing and zero-tolerance strategies to the implementation of restorative justice. They estimate that such a full-scale investment in restorative justice would cost around $44 million, much less than the $67 million budget of the CPS Office of School Safety and Security.
- Create monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track the reduction in punitive discipline methods and the success of restorative justice implementation, and make that information available in an ongoing, public manner.
Click here to download the report.
From the DSC Blog
DSC Statement on the DOE’s Proposed Priorities for the Teacher Incentive Fund
by The Dignity in Schools Campaign, 3/30/2012
"On March 30th, 2012 the Dignity in Schools Campaign submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Incentive Fund, a part of the Obama administration's educational platform which would provide funds for implementing teacher incentive programs in states and districts with 'high need schools'."
Bronx Youth of Color Most Vulnerable to School Arrests and Summonses
by The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York, 3/14/2012
"On March 8, 2012, the New Settlement Parent Action Committee, and the Dignity in Schools Campaign- New York gathered close to 100 parents, students, educators, and elected officials on the steps of the Bronx Borough President’s office to express their outrage over the Bronx’s shocking rates of school-based arrests and student summonses, and to demand positive disciplinary alternatives."
Department of Education Data Show Urgent Need to Address Racial Disparities in School Discipline
by The Dignity in Schools Campaign, 3/06/2012
"Today Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, announced the results of the latest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) – a national survey of 72,000 schools – which shows that racial disparities in school discipline, including suspensions, expulsions and arrests, remain alarmingly high in districts and states across the country."
In The News
40% of School Suspensions Are for `Defiance'
by Christina Hoag (The Associated Press, 04/08/2012)
"School suspensions were once reserved for serious offenses including fighting and bringing weapons or drugs on campus. But these days they're just as likely for talking back to a teacher, cursing, walking into class late or even student eye rolling. More than 40 percent of suspensions in California are for 'willful defiance,' or any behavior that disrupts class, and critics say it's a catchall that needs to be eliminated because it's overused for trivial offenses, disproportionately used against black and Latino boys and alienates the students who need most to stay in school."
What If Krop High Had Not Suspended Trayvon Martin?
by Aaron Morrison (New America Media, 4/04/2012)
"On the evening Trayvon Martin was killed in a Sanford, Fla. gated community, it was a school night. However, the 17-year-old Miami student would not have returned to classes with his friends the following morning. Martin was serving a 10-day out-of-school suspension in the central Florida town, after officials reportedly removed him for marijuana possession, under a 'zero tolerance' policy."
Fenger High School celebrates Peace Week
by Dawn Turner Trice (Chicago Tribune, 3/26/2012)
"Last week was Peace Week at Fenger High School. This week is spring break. Principal Elizabeth Dozier told me that students hold the event the week before vacation because they think it has a calming effect during the time off. Dozier is 34, but as she was standing amid a crowd of students gathered outside Thursday for a brief ceremony, she could easily have passed for one of them. She came to the school in September 2009 to help fix Fenger. It's considered a 'turnaround' school because of students' behavior problems and low test scores and attendance rates. She had been on the job only a few days when sophomore Derrion Albert was brutally killed and his death made national news."
Bronx Youth of Color Most Vulnerable to School Arrests and Summonses
by Dinu Ahmed (Huffington Post, 3/13/2012)
"On March 8, 2012, the New Settlement Parent Action Committee gathered 100 parents, students, educators, and elected officials on the steps of the Bronx Borough President's office to express their outrage over the Bronx's shocking rates of school-based arrests and student summonses, and to demand positive disciplinary alternatives. Recent data released under the Student Safety Act -- new legislation that disaggregates statistics on arrests and summonses by race, age, and gender -- shows the disproportionate impact that harsh punitive measures in New York City schools have had on the Bronx, particularly on youth of color."
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.
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 out more!
Restorative Schools Vision Project
The Restorative Schools Vision Project has launched its new website! It is still a work-in-progress but make sure to bookmark it in your browser and watch the three minute introduction video. The Restorative Schools Vision Project is a Human Rights organization dedicated to fulfillment of the Constitutional promise of Education Equality. RSVP believes that Restorative Schools will significantly contribute to ending school pushout (“dropout”) and the school-to-prison-pipeline. Expect more and more new resources to be added to the site in the coming weeks!
Click here to visit the RSVP website!.
Getting Out from Under: A Human Rights Alternative to the Corporate Model of Public Education in NYC
The Independent Commission on Public Education (iCOPE) has published a 44-page booklet that offers a positive alternative vocabulary, discourse and vision to the current corporate take-over of New York City's public schools. The human rights framework embodied in this work makes explicit the human and civic values that have been implicit in so much of the protest of the last decade under mayoral control of the school system.
Click here to download the booklet!.
From Policy To Standard Practice: Restorative Justice in Chicago Public Schools, Spring 2012
This new report by the High HOPES Campaign is the result of a thorough year-long process of collecting information from restorative justice experts, practitioners, educators, youth, parents, and community members. High HOPES members interviewed different stakeholders, reviewed studies, re-ports, and other documentation, and even held an all-day summit attended by close to 100 people. The data collected in this report shows that suspensions and expulsions do not make schools safer but instead negatively affect the school environment; have long-term damaging effects on student behavior, learning and academic achievement; and contribute to higher dropout rates and violence.
Click here to download the report.
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.