Greetings DSC Members and Allies!
DSC members were busy over the last month, hosting trainings on communications and state-level strategies, participating in meetings on the Department of Defense 1033 program that provides surplus weapons to law enforcement, and organizing for changes to state and local policies. Details on just some of this work can be found below. Please send updates about your local campaigns to DSC's Communications Coordinator Nancy Treviño to include in next month’s e-newsletter!
DSC Response to Grand Jury Decisions in New York City and Ferguson
Once again, just over a week after the failure to indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, a grand jury has failed to indict the police officer in the case of Eric Garner who was killed by the NYPD by use of a chokehold in Staten Island, New York. This demonstrates yet again the lack of justice for communities of color that experience violence at the hands of law enforcement and other institutions. The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) joins communities in New York City, Ferguson and across the country who have come out in response to the grand jury decisions to demand "This Stops Today." You can visit DSC's website to read our full statements on the Eric Garner decision here and Ferguson here with information about scheduled actions and events taking place around the country.
DSC Members Meet with U.S. Departments of Education and Justice on Surplus Military Weapons in Schools
On November 3, DSC member organizations Texas Appleseed and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., together with other allied organizations, lead a meeting with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education on the Department of Defense Excess Property 1033 program, which provides surplus weapons to law enforcement agencies, including some operating in K-12 schools. DSC members attending the meeting, including Racial Justice NOW!, Gwinnett SToPP and ACLU of Pennsylvania, expressed that the provision of military weapons to school police departments further criminalizes our young people and threatens our work to improve school climate.
We urged the federal government to stop the practice of providing these weapons for use in schools. Other recommendations discussed at the meeting included supporting local school districts and police departments to create Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to limit the role of police in schools and prevent the use of excessive force against students. DSC members and allies will be following up with both Departments regarding our recommendations.
Victory on Willful Defiance in California
In September, California became the first state to eliminate suspensions of students in grades K-3 for minor misbehavior, such as talking back, failing to have school materials and dress code violations, and to eliminate expulsions for all students for these behaviors. Through years of hard work and organizing DSC members Public Counsel, CADRE, YJC, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, Children’s Defense Fund California, Restorative Schools Vision Project, Gay Straight Alliance Network and allies made this victory possible.
DSC members in the statewide coalition made up of parents, educators, students, community, law enforcement and civil rights leaders will continue to work toward state and local school discipline reform, including: 1) Ending the use of “willful defiance” suspensions for all students, not just young children; 2) Increased state funding for positive school discipline approaches including Positive Behavior Intervention and Restorative Practices; 3) Promoting best practices in schools, including reforms in teacher and administrator training; 4) Developing stronger Local Control Accountability Plans that include funding and training for alternative discipline practices; and 5) Reducing use of all suspensions for any reason by at least 80% by 2020.
To learn more about the victory and ongoing campaign work in California, we encourage DSC members to join our next monthly Strategy Call on January 8th to hear from CADRE and others involved in the state-wide campaign.
DSC-NY Holds Rally to End Suspensions for Defying Authority in NYC Discipline Code
On November 11, the Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY Chapter held a rally demanding that the policy that allows schools to suspend students for “defying authority”, infraction B21, be eliminated from the current New York City Discipline Code. DSC-NY is demanding that the school district provide resources and support to schools to implement restorative justice approaches. DSC-NY members say that infraction B21, currently the most common reason for suspension in NYC schools, fuels the school-to-prison pipeline and drives a wedge between students and the school community. Members continue to push for this policy change although they have received some resistance from the Department of Education.
DSC Staff Attend SEOC Annual Meeting
On November 8, DSC Field Organizer, Fernando Martinez participated in the 2014 Statewide Education Organizing Committee (SEOC) annual membership meeting. He facilitated a state-level campaign strategy session in which SEOC members from three chapters--Elizabeth, Jersey City and Asbury Park--strategized about how to bring their local campaign demands together under a strong, unified state-level platform that included reducing school suspensions.
DSC Hosts Communications Training for Mississippi Members
On November 13, DSC Communications Coordinator Nancy Trevino organized a communications training with the Hatcher Group for DSC members in Mississippi. DSC members Citizens for a Better Greenville and Nollie Jenkins Family Center helped organize the training where members learned how to use school discipline reform messages to advance their campaigns for educational justice!
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Using Data to Improve Climate and Discipline
December 9, 2-3PM EST
The Council for State Governments will highlight strategies aimed at strengthening how data is used to improve school discipline, reduce disparities, create safer and more supportive learning environments, and improve outcomes for all students.
Save the Date! DSC Annual Membership Meeting
April 24-26, 2015
Not Measuring Up: The State of School Discipline in Massachusetts
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice released a report on the rates of Massachusetts school suspensions and found that charter schools suspended students more often than traditional schools.
Find report HERE.
Accountability Guidelines on School Pushout and Charter Schools
The DSC Accountability Guidelines on School Pushout and Charter Schools call on states and localities to put in place laws and policies that will increase accountability and oversight of charter schools to address school pushout. Find the guidelines HERE. You can also find a recorded webinar on how to use the guidelines HERE.
IN THE NEWS
Can Adding Ethnic Studies to Graduation Requirements Help Stem the School-to-Prison Pipeline?
About Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC)
Joseph Williams, Take Part, November 20, 2014
With Announcement Expected, Students & Advocates Continue Push for Change in School Discipline Code
Alex-Quan Phan, Gotham Gazzette, November 18, 2014
Schools Pioneer Alternatives to the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Abigail Savitch-Lew, City Limits.org, November 6, 2014
Learning Our Place
Sally Lee, Huffington Post, November 3, 2014
Is This Working?
This American Life, October 17, 2014
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.
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