Greetings DSC Members and Allies!
Last month we held a powerful Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago where we came together to strategize, build skills, discuss important campaign decisions and make connections. Next month members will be making their way to Washington D.C. for our next Days at the Capitol to advocate for 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. If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org!
DSC Annual Membership Meeting
On April 24-26 over 170 DSC members from around the country convened in Chicago for our 5th Annual Membership Meeting. Members engaged in discussions to help inform our strategic planning process which included revising our mission, creating a vision statement, and developing our goals as a campaign. Over the course of three days members also created shared timelines of DSCís history, participated in member-led workshops, prioritized themes for our upcoming 2015 National Week of Action Against School Pushout, and hosted a panel discussion on implicit bias featuring members from Racial Justice Now!, Girls for Gender Equity, Activists with a Purpose and NAACP LDF. Check out the powerful pictures from our convening here.
Power U Center Takes Action Against Private Prisons
On May 4 DSC member Power U Center for Social Change made their way to Boca Raton, FL to take action against GEO Corporation, the second largest private prison corporation in the country. Power U and other organizations from around the country organized a march and rally during the GEO Corpís shareholder meeting that called for an end to lobbying practices that criminalize immigrants and people of color. Power U youth are working to dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline and companies such as GEO Corp. are making profits off the backs of young black and brown students. Power U is fighting for Restorative Justice in Miami Dade Public Schools and deems it necessary to be part of the struggle to end mass incarceration. You can see pictures from the action here.
Louisiana Legislature Gets Closer to Passing Too Young to Suspend Bill
Over the last two weeks the Louisiana legislature discussed bills SB54 and HB116 aimed at eliminating suspensions of students in K-3rd grade. DSC member Families and Friends of Louisianaís Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) launched their Let Kids Be Kids Campaign last month in support of SB54. If passed, the bill would reduce the number of children suspended from school and mandate teachers and administrators to use alternatives to suspension such as Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. Due to FFLICís strong advocacy, on April 30, SB54 received enough support and passed out of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. You can read more here.
Black Organizing Project Youth Share Their Stories!
Earlier this year DSC member Black Organizing Project of Oakland, CA launched Storybuilders, a multimedia storytelling internship with two high school students. Students immersed themselves in learning critical concepts about dominant narratives pertaining to Black youth. Youth learned different forms of media, including photography, film, poetry, creative writing and more to reconstruct their stories of what it means to be a Black student in Oakland. Students explored the over-reliance on discipline and punishment, and the under-investment in programs that impact students the most, like music and arts. You can watch their stories here.
#Suspended4What Campaign at DoSomething.org
Throughout the month of April, DSC members participated in the #Suspended4What Campaign at DoSomething.org, posting stories of suspensions, sharing videos and taking action to raise awareness of the harmful impacts of suspensions and the solutions that work in schools, like restorative justice. You can watch a #Suspended4What video here uploaded by one of our members, DRUM South Asian Organizing Center.
On May 7-8 our National Field Organizer, Fernando Martinez joined DSC member Minnesota Education Equity Partnership in Minneapolis for their Solutions Not Suspensions state-wide convening. Participants re-affirmed their commitment to the work, discussed goals and a new collective focus for the Solutions Not Suspensions Campaign. DSC members Zakiya Sankara-Jabar of Racial Justice Now! in Ohio and Rebecca Fernandez of Parent Education Organizing Council in New Jersey were also there.
IN THE NEWS
Report: Racial inequalities in Denver Public Schools have grown
Yesenia Robles, The Denver Post, May 11, 2015
Devaluation of black lives starts in classrooms
Michelle Chen, Al Jazeera America, May 8, 2015
New Columbia, MO, school discipline guidelines aimed at school-to-prison pipeline
Allie Gross, Education Dive, May 7, 2015
Three Colorado Springs D-11 school to add restorative justice programs
Debbie Kelley, The Gazette, May 7, 2015
These Kids Are Fighting Back After Being Suspended For The Most Ridiculous Reasons
Julie Zeilinger, Mic, April 29, 2015
Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts: Where does your state rank?
Susan Ferriss, Center for Public Integrity, April 10, 2015
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Multi-City Member Led Tour
Louisiana to Mississippi
DSC members will host a multi-city tour to highlight school districts with high rates of school pushout. Members will travel from New Orleans, LA to Greenville, MS for this first leg of the tour. Later this fall, members will visit Ohio and Virginia.
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.
DSC Days at the Capitol
DSC will meet with the Administration and members of Congress to advocate for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Members will advocate for provisions that hold states and districts accountable for creating positive school climates and improving educational outcomes for all students.
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.
Fix School Discipline Institutionalized Racism and Inequity Webinar and Slides
Last month, the Fix School Discipline Initiative of DSC member Public Counsel held the webinar Institutionalized Racism and Inequity. The webinar featured Joyce James, the head of the State of Texasís Child Protective Services Program. She discussed a model she introduced to the state that examines and addresses the disproportionate number of African American and Native American children in the Texas Foster Care System, including disproportionality in the education system. You can watch the webinar here and download the webinar slides here.
Padres y Jovenes Unidos 2nd Annual Colorado School Discipline Report Card
DSC member Padres y Jovenes Unidos released its second annual Colorado School Discipline Report Card that examines how the 2012 Smart School Discipline Law impacted school districts across the state. The report notes that statewide, the use of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and referrals to law enforcement is trending downward, yet there continue to be substantial racial inequities in discipline in some districts. You can view 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.
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