Hello DSC Members & Allies,
At the federal level and in our local communities, DSC members are responding to calls for more police and armed personnel in schools in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School by urging schools and policy-makers to invest instead in services and trained counselors to help foster a nurturing school climate and prevent school violence.
In this e-news you can read about a youth of color-led call to action in response to gun violence and misguided school safety policies, DSC’s statement on the White House proposal on gun violence, and the joint issue brief, "Police in Schools Are Not the Answer", from a coalition formed by DSC, Advancement Project, Alliance for Educational Justice and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like to get involved by writing to [email protected]. You can also visit the Dignity in Schools Campaign on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Dignity in Schools Campaign
Member Group Spotlight
A coalition of organizations led by youth of color, including the Youth Justice Coalition and other members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, have launched "You Can't Build Peace With a Piece" a national youth-led campaign to call for positive approaches in response to gun violence and address the impact of school safety policies on youth of color in the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
The coalition has created a Facebook Group to spread the word, share content, and resources, to collaborate on a series of events throughout February, March, and April.
On Wednesday, February 13th the coalition held a rally outside Senator Barbara Boxer's office in downtown Los Angeles to release the following statement:
Statement By Youth of Color on School Safety and Gun Violence in America
“We can imagine the pain and suffering that the youth and families in Newtown, Connecticut are experiencing. As youth growing up on some of America’s deadliest streets, we are all too familiar with gun violence and its impacts. Too many of us have been shot and shot at. We have buried our friends and our family members. Nearly all of us have been to more funerals than graduations. No one wants the violence to stop more than we do.
But, we have also seen how attempts to build public safety with security systems, armed police and prisons have failed. We want college prep, not prison prep.
President Nixon declared the War on Drugs and enacted the first use of zero tolerance laws in communities. President Reagan expanded the War on Drugs and his Secretary of Education, William Bennett, enacted zero tolerance in schools. School shootings were used to expand these policies at the local, state and federal level, most famously by President Clinton following the Columbine shootings. For forty years, federal, state and local dollars have gone toward the massive build-up of juvenile halls, jails and prisons while simultaneously severe cuts have been made to our school and higher education budgets. Locally, these policies have resulted in the takeover of school security by police departments and school resource officers.
As a result, in communities of color throughout the nation, students now experience a vicious school-to-jail track. Despite the fact that school shootings have overwhelmingly happened in white schools, youth of color have paid the price. We have been handcuffed and humiliated in front of other students and staff for “offenses” as small as being late to school; detained in police interrogation rooms at our school; expelled from school for carrying nail clippers, markers or baseball caps; and arrested – even in elementary schools – for fights that used to be solved in the principal’s office. With our backpacks searched and our lockers and cars tossed, at the end of a billy club or the butt of a gun, knees down-hands up, or face down on cold concrete or burning asphalt – we have experienced the true face of “public safety.” These policies haven’t protected us, helped us to graduate or taught us anything about preventing violence. They have taught us to fear a badge, to hate school and to give up on our education. We understand too well that guns in anyone’s hands are not the solution. You can’t build peace with a piece.”
- Click here to continue reading the full statement.
- Click here to sign-on to the statement as a Youth Endorser or as a Supporter/Ally.
- Visit the group's Facebook page and "like it" to learn more, join the discussion and receive updates.
- Click here to watch a video of the February 13th rally outside Senator Barbara Boxer's office in downtown Los Angeles.
Dignity in Schools Campaign Statement on White House Proposal on Gun Violence
Invest In Practices that Strengthen Bonds between Students and Educators, Not Increased Police Presence
On January 16, President Obama laid out an impressive plan to meaningfully address the causes of gun violence and highlighted the importance of fostering a nurturing school climate to help prevent school violence. Part of the President’s plan would enable U.S. schools to hire up to 1,000 more school police or school counselors. As DSC, we are concerned by any plan that could result in more police in schools. “What our schools need are programs that promote peaceful conflict resolution that will strengthen our communities,” said Dwayne Hoye, a member of Blocks Together and the Dignity in Schools Campaign, and a graduate of Orr Academy High school in Chicago, IL. “We already have approximately two police officers per public school in Chicago and in spite of that, I never felt any safer in my school. I wish they had used those resources to train my teachers and school staff on how to prevent conflict instead."
Coalition Says Armed Police in Schools Wrong Answer For Stopping Gun Violence
In the weeks following the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, a number of policy-makers and organizations, including members of Congress and the National Rifle Association, have called for armed guards and/or police officers in public schools. In response, a coalition of youth, parents, education advocates, civil rights organizations, and law enforcement came together to caution the White House and Congress against embracing proposals to put armed guards and police in schools. DSC, Advancement Project, Alliance for Educational Justice and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund released the joint issue brief, Police in Schools are Not the Answer to the Newtown Shooting.
- Sign the petition calling on the White House to "Say No to More Armed Guards in Schools"!.
- Click here to read the coalition’s Issue Brief.
- Click here to read the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s letter to Vice President Biden.
Sign-On To Our Call for a Moratorium on Out-of-School Suspensions!
Over 3 million students are suspended out of school each year contributing to pushout across the country. The Dignity in Schools Campaign and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign launched the Solutions Not Suspensions Initiative to call for a nationwide moratorium on out of school suspensions.
- Visit the Solutions Not Suspensions website to find out more, sign the pledge for the moratorium and please don't forget to share with others!
Share the DSC Model Code with Members of Your Community!!
The Dignity in Schools Campaign created a Model Code on Education and Dignity, a set of recommended policies that communities, schools, districts and states can implement to stop out of school suspensions and school pushout, and implement positive alternatives. Contact us at [email protected] to learn about holding workshops in the Model Code in your community and sharing the Code with policy-makers.
Click here to download the Model Code
In The News
Pushed From School To Prison
by Zaina Alsous (The Daily Tar Heel, 02/03/13)
"Last week The New York Post splashed the image of 7-year-old Wilson Reyes in handcuffs on its cover. Reyes was accused of stealing $5 from another student and was then interrogated by police officers. While this case may seem extreme, the core issues — criminalization of youth and unjust school disciplinary practices — are widespread and have been occurring for years."
Where Are the Student Voices in the Gun Control Debate?
by James Cersonsky (AlterNet, 1/25/13)
"In the wake of the Newtown massacre, municipalities far away, and far different, from Newtown are now ramping up their school police forces and security checks. They have an ally in President Obama, whose 23 gun control proposals include added funding for ‘school resource officers’—that is, police. As a result, students of color across the country are bracing for the dependably discriminatory impact of heightened school security. Since the advent of zero-tolerance policies during the Reagan-era war on drugs, suspension rates have gone up disproportionately for blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. Black students are now three times as likely as white students to get suspended, despite scant evidence of greater suspension-worthy infraction.”
Zero-Tolerance and Tough-on-Crime Policies Put Students in a School-to-Prison Pipeline
by Rebecca Burns (In These Times, 1/23/13)
"Schools have redefined developmentally appropriate behaviors as crimes. Pushing and shoving in the schoolyard is now a battery, and talking back is now disorderly conduct. Metal detectors and uniformed security guards greet students each day at Orr Academy on Chicago’s West Side. ‘My high school seemed like its own personal prison,’ Edward Ward, a 2011 Orr graduate, told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his testimony in December 2012. He recalled how a police processing center was even set up to book students on school grounds."
After Newtown, School Communities Brace for Another Influx of Police
by Julianne Hing (Colorlines, 1/10/13)
"It wasn’t just students who returned to school this week after their holiday break. In school districts around the country, extra police officers are being deployed to provide a sense of security while policymakers weigh legislation in response to the massacre in Newtown, Conn.—proposals that could make police in schools an increased and permanent fixture in kids’ lives. Politicians’ response to the deadly attack unleashed on Sandy Hook Elementary in December has been swift. This week, Vice President Joe Biden convened meetings for a White House task force to address gun access and mental health issues, and has promised to deliver a legislative proposal to the president by month’s ends."
DSC Annual Membership Meeting - Washington, DC
March 1-5, 2013
Contact us for more information and to register!
School-to-Prison Pipeline Actions Camps - Advancement Project
New Orleans, LA: April 19-21, 2013
Denver, CO: June 28-30, 2013
Click here to find out more!
A Guide for Attorneys Representing College Applicants and Students During and After Criminal Proceedings
The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) is pleased to share with you this new resource for attorneys, practitioners and others interested in reintegration and reentry, “A Guide for Attorneys Representing College Applicants and Students During and After Criminal Proceedings.” With a growing number of colleges and universities screening applicants for past criminal justice involvement, this Guide is an important tool for defense attorneys who seek to ensure that higher education remains an option for their current or past clients with dreams of one day graduating from college. Since higher education reduces recidivism, this Guide provides key strategies for enriching lives, increasing opportunities, and making our communities safer for all of us. We hope this publication will be helpful to all who are working to end the lifelong consequences of a criminal history record.
Click here to download the Guide.
Growing Fairness Project
Teachers Unite's Growing Fairness project will be a film, toolkit and training resource to educators, youth and activists everywhere looking to shift their school culture. To produce the film and the toolkit, Teachers Unite are crowd-sourcing the project via indiegogo.com. To learn more and contribute please visit - Indiegogo.com/GrowingFairness
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.