Greetings DSC Members and Allies!
DSC members held a powerful Days at the Capitol event in February, where we urged members of Congress to ensure a strong federal role in education. DSC advocated for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to hold states and districts accountable for creating positive school climates and improving educational outcomes for all students. DSC will continue advocating for our federal priorities this spring. In the next month, we are preparing for our Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago from April 24th to 26th and look forward to seeing you there! If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email email@example.com!
DSC Submits Petition to President Against Lending of Military Weapons to Law Enforcement in Schools
On March 6, the DSC submitted our petition to end the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program that lends surplus military equipment--including weapons--to local law enforcement agencies, some of which are operating in K-12 schools. DSC is calling for immediate action to remove these weapons from our nation's schools and invest instead in proven solutions to improve school climate and safety.
DSC also submitted comments to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which released its report this March. The Task Force called for policies and programs that “reduce aggressive law enforcement tactics that stigmatize and criminalize youth and marginalize their participation in schools and communities.”
Days at the Capitol on ESEA Reauthorization
On February 26-27, DSC members from 12 states convened in Washington DC to meet with members of Congress as they debate reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). DSC members shared stories of how harsh and punitive school discipline policies have negatively impacted educational outcomes, and gave recommendations for how federal legislation can support positive solutions for building safe and supportive school communities.
Members spoke at a Roundtable on School Discipline hosted by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and made visits to congressional offices to urge legislators to oppose draft Republican bills in the House and Senate that would undermine the federal role in education and fail to ensure that federal funds are used to reduce racial and other disparities in education. You can read a blog post about the event and watch the testimony of DSC members at the Senator Murphy Roundtable here (starting at 41 min).
Access New Report and Discipline Data Tables by School District
The UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project released the report, Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?, analyzing discipline data at elementary and secondary schools for every district in the nation. This report also provides companion spreadsheets enabling anyone to compare or analyze data from any district. You can find the full report here and the companion spreadsheets here. You can also find a recent book of research articles on school discipline edited by Dan Losen of the Civil Rights Project here.
DSC to Partner with DoSomething.org for “Suspended for What?” Campaign
DSC is partnering with DoSomething.org for their “Suspended for What?” campaign to raise awareness about harsh school discipline practices starting April 1.The campaign is asking youth to share their experiences with suspensions, expulsions and school-based arrests during the month of April and to ask school administrators to adopt better discipline practices.
We encourage members to participate, including during a Week of Action from April 27-May 1! More info here.
Missouri School Climate Survey Release
On March 11, Missouri GSA Network released the 2014-2015 Missouri School Climate Survey, the only one of its kind that asks students about sexual orientation and gender identity and how it intersects with school life. The survey documents the experiences of LGBTQ youth in Missouri schools, including the experience of bullying and harassment, exposure to LGBTQ history and resources, school-based support networks, engagement in risk behaviors, and academic outcomes. Key findings included that nearly one third (28.18%) of LGBTQ students reported skipping school at least once because they did not feel safe compared with around one in ten (11.76%) straight students. You can find the full survey here.
DSC-NY Pushes for Change in NYC Discipline Code
In February, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new package of discipline reforms, including a new School Discipline Code. The reforms take positive steps towards policy goals that the Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York chapter has fought for over the past year, including the formation of a Mayoral Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline, ending suspensions of more than 5 days for minor altercations, and expanding trainings in restorative practices for schools. On March 2nd, the Department of Education held a public hearing on the revisions to the School Discipline Code, where DSC-NY members provided testimony calling on the Mayor to go beyond the current reforms and enact more policy changes, including eliminating suspensions for the minor, subjective behavior “defying authority.” You can read about some of the recent changes here.
In Remembrance of Martez Harvey and Helen Johnson
We deeply regret to inform you about the recent passing of two leaders in our DSC community, Martez Harvey of Activists with a Purpose in Grenada, MS and Helen Johnson of Nollie Jenkins Family Center in Holmes County, MS. Martez was a youth leader with Activists with a Purpose and attended several DSC events over the years where he shared his bright spirit and commitment to the fight to end school pushout. We most recently lost Martez to tragic circumstances on March 18.
Ms. Johnson will be remembered for her founding leadership in the movement to dismantle the school to jail track and her tireless advocacy for students’ and parents’ rights in Mississippi. Ms. Johnson passed away earlier this year in January.
On March 11, DSC Field Organizer, Fernando Martinez, joined Racial Justice Now! in Dayton, Ohio for a training on DSC’s Model Code on Education and Dignity. Participants compared their local code of conduct with the DSC Model Code, examined school discipline from a human rights framework and identified alternative policies and practices to reduce racial disparities in school discipline. Following the training Dayton Public Schools has invited Racial Justice NOW! to provide an implicit bias training to the district’s staff.
On March 21, DSC Communications Coordinator, Nancy Trevino also joined Racial Justice Now! in Dayton, OH for a communications training on how to craft messages to support better alternatives to school discipline like Restorative Justice. Members practiced their skills by live tweeting at the training and participating in mock TV interviews.
IN THE NEWS
As Awareness of the School-to-Prison Pipeline Rises, Some Schools Rethink the Role of Police
Harold Jordan, The Huffington Post, March 20, 2015
From Selma to Madison, a Generation Demands Justice
The Nation, March 16, 2015
The Empty Chair Crisis
Meg Krugel, Oregon Education Association Magazine, Winter 2015
Zeroing out Zero Tolerance
Carly Berwick, The Atlantic, March 17, 2015
High School Students Across the Country Are Fighting for Their Rights
Rebecca Nathanson, Rolling Stone, March 11, 2015
Community Policing Task Force Has Recommendations for Schools, Too
Evie Blad, Education Week, March 2, 2015
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DSC #SchoolPushout Twitter Chat
April 7 at 5pm est/2pm pst
Join the DSC #SchoolPushout Twitter chat where we will discuss how harsh school discipline practices are criminalizing youth and call for solutions that we, as community, have been advocating for to end School Pushout. Follow @dignityinschool #SchoolPushout. More info here.
DoSomething.org Suspended for What? Campaign
April 1-May 1, 2015
DSC is partnering with DoSomething.org on the Suspended for What? campaign to raise awareness about harsh school discipline practices, that will include a week of action from April 27-May 1. More info here.
DSC Annual Membership Meeting
April 24-26, 2015
DSC members will convene in Chicago, IL to strategize, build skills, vote on important campaign decisions and make connections. More information here.
Save the Kids National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth
DSC member Save the Kids will be holding their 3rd Annual National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. They will be holding rallies, teach-ins, and panels among other events. We encourage everyone to participate! You can find more information here.
Integrating School Climate Reform Efforts Symposium
The International Institute for Restorative Practices will be hosting this symposium where they will bring together national leaders working on school climate reform. You can register and find out more about the symposium here.
Updated Beyond Zero Tolerance Report
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has released an updated edition of their Beyond Zero Tolerance Report with statewide analysis on school discipline data for Pennsylvania. The report discusses new research findings on why discipline rates differ by race, presents recent federal policy guidelines, and adds useful resources for students, parents, school decision-makers and community advocates. You can find the report here.
Boxed Out: Criminal History Records in College Admissions Application Attrition Report
The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) and the Education from the Inside Out Coalition released this report whose findings make clear how the criminal history box on college applications, and the supplemental requirements and procedures that follow, create barriers to higher education for otherwise qualified applicants. You can find the full report here.
Prelude to Prison Book
DSC member Marsha Weissman of Center for Community Alternatives released this book that documents the lived experiences of youth who have been pushed out of schools and funneled into the prison system. Marsha shares her work in the movement to end the school to prison pipeline and gives a voice to those who are directly impacted. You can purchase the book here.
Explaining Student Disparity in Student Performance Report
Southern Echo and the Mississippi Delta Catalyst Roundtable released this report finding that the educational opportunities of Mississippi students are skewed and distorted by race, class, critical teacher shortages and the failure of the state to adopt effective policies to remedy the impact of past discrimination based on race and class. Find the report here.
About 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.
Follow us at @DignityinSchool
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