Greetings DSC Members and Allies!
DSC members across the country are uplifting the voices of those most impacted by school pushout. In February, members presented at a Regional #RethinkDiscipline convening hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in Atlanta, where they shared their organizing and advocacy work to end school pushout. We also share recent member updates below, including members pushing back against increased police presence at school events. If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email email@example.com.
DSC Members Present at Rethink Discipline Convening in Atlanta
From February 17-18, DSC members from Gwinnett SToPP, the Youth Organizing Institute (YOI) and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) presented at a Regional Rethink Discipline Convening in Atlanta hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Teams of district and school leaders from 12 school districts in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee came together to develop concrete steps to advance school discipline reform in their communities. Marlyn Tillman of Gwinnett SToPP and Markyona Patrick of YOI presented on a panel where they discussed the importance of youth and parent leadership in transforming school discipline. Liz Sullivan-Yuknis of NESRI facilitated two workshops on the DSC Model Code on Education and Dignity. You can find resources from the convening here.
DSC Continues to Push for Positive School Discipline in ESSA Implementation
Last week, the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to discuss the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). DSC submitted a statement to the committee outlining our recommendations for implementation, including for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to issue regulations and guidance for states choosing school climate and safety as an accountability indicator of overall school quality and student success. DSC also issued a statement regarding the hearing held by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the nomination of acting Secretary of Education Dr. John King. In our statement we urge Dr. King, if confirmed, to champion school discipline reform and address the role of police in schools and how police presence contributes to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. You can read our full statement here. You can also find several resources for local organizations regarding ESSA implementation on our website.
Video Released of Baltimore School Police Officer Hitting Youth
This week, a video surfaced of a Baltimore school police officer hitting and kicking a youth at REACH Partnership School. Similar to what was seen last year in Columbia, SC at Spring Valley High, we see another youth of color being assaulted by a police officer in school. Once again, we reaffirm that School Resource Officers, municipal police, probation officers and other law enforcement personnel should not handle student safety or school discipline issues in and around schools. In 2013, DSC members released the Statement by Youth of Color on School Safety and Gun Violence in America that lays out recommendations for creating safe school climates. In Baltimore, as of the latest reports, the municipal police force is leading a criminal investigation into the assault. The school police chief, Marshall Goodwin, and the two unidentified officers in the video have been placed on administrative leave.
Toledoans United for Social Action Uplift Youth Voices at Community Panel Discussion
Last month, DSC member Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA) hosted an event titled Colorful Conversations, where they convened 200 community members and public officials to hear youth speak about their concerns with school discipline policies and other community issues. The event uplifted the voices of 5-8 year olds who discussed their views on school safety and 13-17 year olds who shared their views on race, education, violence, school discipline and cultural sensitivity. Toledo’s Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, Chief of Police George Kral and School Superintendent Dr. Romules Durant attended the event, which allowed youth to speak directly to officials about the changes they want to see in their community, including fewer punitive discipline policies in schools.
Dayton Parents Stand Up Against Police at School Sporting Events
This month, DSC member Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) and community leaders in Dayton, Ohio are demanding a change concerning the presence of police officers at Dayton Public Schools (DPS) sporting events. RJN members and allies spoke at the DPS school board meeting in February to voice concerns about a district policy that stations police officers at school sporting events due to recent fights. Over 20 community members attended the school board meeting where their public speaking time was reduced from three minutes to one minute. Community members pushed back at the meeting and stated that they felt they were being silenced by the school board. The public outcry led to the school board calling a special meeting to be scheduled in March to discuss police presence at school sporting events. Here is a link to media coverage.
Girls for Gender Equity Youth Leaders Represent at NYC Young Women’s Initiative
In February, DSC member Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) and members of the Young Women’s Advisory Council for the Young Women’s Initiative attended New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Vivirito’s State of the City Address. At the State of the City, Speaker Mark Vivirito announced a commitment of 10 million dollars for the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), a citywide effort to support the needs of cis and trans young women of color. YWI will have a 10 million dollar match from philanthropy distributed over the course of two years. GGE has long called for an investment in young women of color and both GGE staff and youth organizers were a part of the creation of YWI. As the initiative moves into its second phase, GGE will continue to support the Young Women’s Advisory Council, a body made up of young women of color who are a part of YWI to ensure that young people have voice in the work of the initiative.
This month, DSC Communications Coordinator Nancy Treviño facilitated a communications training for Toledoans United for Social Action in Ohio where members learned how to create a communications plan and how to draft a master narrative for their local campaign. They also learned about best practices for interviewing with reporters and engaging in social media.
DSC Field Organizer Fernando Martinez held a campaign strategy session for the
Parent Education Organizing Council (PEOC) in New Jersey. During the work session local leaders regrouped to assess their campaign work and to identify new tactics and action steps to hold Paterson Public Schools accountable. Fernando helped orient PEOC’s new organizer on the Solutions Not Suspensions Campaign and accompanied parent leaders in negotiations with school officials about implementing Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
IN THE NEWS
Baltimore school police officer slaps, kicks, and curses at young black man on video
German Lopez, Vox, March 2, 2016
U.S. Department of Education Takes Action to Deliver Equity for Students with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Education, February 23, 2016
School board to consider role of police at events
Jeremy P. Kelley, WHIO, February 17, 2016
Should high school punishments go on college applications?
Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, February 18, 2016
LAUSD needs to reverse its neglect of black students
Sikivu Hutchinson, Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2016
Criminal Justice Bill Tackles ‘School-To-Prison Pipeline’
Elly Yu, WABE, February 15, 2016
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Support Portland Parent Union, Sign their Petition!
DSC member Portland Parent Union (PPU) has created a petition in response to criminal charges brought by the Deputy District Attorney of Multnomah County, Oregon against a young Black student for an incident at school. Please support PPU by signing and sharing the petition here!
Multi-City School Pushout Tour Visits Ohio
DSC members from Mississippi and Virginia will join Racial Justice NOW! and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. for the last leg of our DSC Multi-City School Pushout Tour in Dayton, OH. Members will hold a community forum, a press conference and speak at the Dayton Public School Board meeting. The Tour began last year when members from six states visited Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia.
DSC Annual Membership Meeting
April 22-24, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Save the Date!
The Great Unequalizer: Community Analysis of Early Childhood Education Report
DSC member Padres y Jovenes Unidos released the report, The Great Unequalizer: How Denver’s Pre-K System Fails the Children of Southwest Denver and Other Low-Income Communities of Color. The report presents the findings of their in-depth study of Denver’s pre-K system, with a particular focus on the experiences of Southwest Denver families. It details the substantial barriers related to access, affordability, and quality that families encounter when they attempt to enroll their children in pre-K. You can read the full report here.
State Takeovers of Low-Performing Schools Report
The Center for Popular Democracy released the report, State Takeovers of Low-Performing Schools: A Record of Academic Failure, Financial Mismanagement and Student Harm. The report issues a compelling call to action to protect the rights of local citizens to work collaboratively and receive the necessary resources to build healthy living and learning communities capable of providing all students an opportunity to learn. You can read the full report here.
American Bar Association Educational Civil Rights Accountability Project
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee has updated their website for the Educational Civil Rights Accountability Project. This website was created to provide education, training and tools to civil rights, legal aid, and pro bono attorneys around issues related to the school to prison pipeline, and disparate outcomes in education. Resources include the newly published paper Disparate Impact Under Title VI and the School to Prison Pipeline, past programs such as Developing a Private Litigation Approach to Charter School Accountability, Federal Guidance letters, OCR/DOJ Complaints, case law, reports, statistical data and more. You can access the website here.
More Conversation about Race, Not Less, Needed in Henrico County
Last month, DSC member Jason Langberg at the Just Children Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia wrote a guest blog post regarding the Henrico County Public School District's banning of the video “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race, ” created by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF).
The video was shown as part of a Black History Month program intended to “to facilitate dialogue and understanding about the inter-generational effects of discriminatory laws and public policies.” Langberg states that “by apologizing for and banning the video, HCPS leadership sent a troubling message about censorship, the value it places on teaching critical thinking, its commitment to equity, and its willingness to tackle tough issues.” You can read the full blog post 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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