Greetings DSC Members and Allies!
The past month has been quite eventful for DSC members! In late April members convened in Los Angeles for our Annual Membership Meeting to strategize on upcoming campaign initiatives, attend member led skill-building workshops and vote on major campaign decisions. We also share recent member updates below, including members organizing actions in Pennsylvania demanding an end to school pushout and calling for an end to police abuse in schools. If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DSC Members Convene in Los Angeles for 6th Annual Membership Meeting
From April 22-24, DSC members from across the country convened in Los Angeles for our sixth Annual Membership Meeting. The weekend kicked off with members attending pre-meeting sessions on youth organizing, implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, addressing structural racism and implicit bias in schools, and discussing recommendations for ending policing in schools. Our pre-meeting sessions were followed by a powerful action organized by our member Labor Community Strategy Center and the Fight for the Soul of the Cities coalition calling on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to give a public apology for their involvement in the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which gave military grade weapons to the Los Angeles School Police Department, and to give reparations by investing in restorative justice practices.
Throughout the weekend, members also led skill-building workshops and discussed plans for our upcoming National Week of Action Against School Pushout taking place this fall from October 15th to 23rd. You can read our blog post about the meeting here and check out pictures of our powerful weekend here.
DSC Submits Comment Letter on Significant Disproportionality
This month the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) submitted a comment letter in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the issue of significant racial disproportionality in special education under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Research has shown that students of color are disproportionately misidentified for certain categories of special education, placed in restrictive environments at higher rates than their peers and disproportionately subjected to punitive discipline practices. Our letter urges ED to issue final regulations that will ensure that states act to eradicate discriminatory practices, including employing a standard formula for determining significant disproportionality and ensuring implementation of evidence-based interventions like positive behavior interventions and supports. You can read our full comment letter here.
Pittsburgh Community Rallies to Demand Solutions Not Suspensions
On May 25, parents, advocates, and students from our member organizations Action United and the Education Rights Network held a Solutions Not Suspensions rally and testified at the Pittsburgh Public School Board meeting to call for immediate action to end an over reliance on suspensions, especially for the district's youngest students. Guided by best practices developed by the Dignity in Schools Campaign and the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools our members called on the district to commit to a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for non-violent misconduct of students in Pre-K to 5th grade. They also asked for changes to the Student Code of Conduct to prioritize restorative practices and asked the district to be transparent with monthly suspension data disaggregated by grade, race, disability and English Language Learner status.
Philadelphia Student Union Takes Action Against #AssaultAtBenFranklin
This month DSC member Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) released a statement regarding a recent assault of PSU youth member, Brian Burney, by a school resource officer. On May 5, 2016 Brian attempted to use his school’s bathroom and was told by School Resource Officer Jeffrey Maiocha that he needed a pass and an argument ensued. Brian threw an orange at the wall out of frustration and was then assaulted by Officer Maiocha. Part of the incident was captured on video by a fellow student and shared publicly. Following the incident Brian was told he suffered a concussion and his parents have filed a complaint with Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission. Last week, over 100 students and allies rallied outside the Philadelphia Public Schools administration building to demand that Officer Maciocha be fired and call for a complete overhaul of school police training, a significant reduction of police in schools and for funding to be redirected towards restorative justice implementation in schools. You can also read a piece about the action here. (Photo: Joe Piette)
Boston Students Organize Walkout Protesting Education Budget Cuts
On May 17, youth leaders from our member organizations Youth on Board and Boston-Area Youth Organizing Project worked with other students and allies to organize a student walkout to protest budget cuts to Boston Public Schools (BPS). Cuts to the education budget would have terrible implications for BPS high schools, special education students and early education learning centers among others. Hundreds of students headed to City Hall from their schools where they rallied with allies chanting "What do we want? Our education!" Students then waited for hours at City Hall to testify in front of city councilors and a panel of BPS officials to urge them to reject the proposed budget. You can read more about the walkout here. (Photo: Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Save the Kids Lead National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth
From May 15-21, 2016 our member Save the Kids organized the 4th Annual National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. Communities from across the country held marches, workshops, film screenings and other events to demand alternatives to incarcerating youth. The week was organized with daily themes including days dedicated to calling for the elimination of zero tolerance policies and ending police presence in schools. You can see highlights from the week here.
This month our Communications Coordinator Nancy Treviño facilitated a communications training for DSC member Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. Members learned how to draft a master narrative and best practices for interviewing with reporters among other skills.
From May 17-18, DSC Field Organizer Fernando Martinez and DSC youth leader Antonio Travis of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) attended a planning meeting in Chicago with the National Youth Alliance for Boys and Men of Color (NYABMoC). Attendees strategized and identified tactics to move forward with the NYA work priorities, including dismantling the school to prison pipeline. Fernando was also invited by DSC members at COFI/POWERPAC to visit a parent run peace center at Reavis Elementary School. He learned about its daily operations and the benefits and challenges of running the center to help transform the school environment.
IN THE NEWS
The Strategy Center Finally Gets the Tanks and M-16s Out of the LA School System
Eric Mann, Huffington Post, May 23, 2016
Michigan lawmakers take aim at school expulsions, suspensions
Lori Higgins and Kristi Tanner, Detroit Free Press, May 23, 2016
Gwinnett should change some school disciplinary policies, group says
Eric Stirgus, AJC.com, May 20, 2016
What's Wrong With Criminalizing Our Early Learners?
Harold Jordan, NBCDI Blog, May 19, 2016
Students, supporters protest Philly school cop's use of force on high schooler
Sam Newhouse, Metro News, May 17, 2016
Why should schools move away from suspensions? We asked student activists to weigh in
Patrick Wall, Chalkbeat New York, May 11, 2016
First Person: How can we teach students to be productive members of a community by removing them from it?
Tyler Brewster and Elana “E.M.” Eisen-Markowitz, Chalkbeat New York, April 28, 2016
Labor Community Strategy Center Action Against Dept. of Defense 1033 Program in Los Angeles Schools (Listen: Minute 12:58-15:02)
KPFA Radio, April 23, 2016
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7th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout
October 15-23, 2016
Save the Date! We will be holding the 7th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout from October 15-23, 2016! Our week of action is organized to raise awareness about school pushout and lift up local member campaigns that are pushing back against school pushout. We invite you to participate by hosting an event in your community! More details to come.
U.S. Departments of Ed & Justice Joint Guidance on Civil Rights of Transgender Students
The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have released a joint guidance to help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students. The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must “treat” the student consistent with the student’s gender identity among other obligations. You can access the guidance here.
U.S. Department of Ed Guidance on Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals
The U.S. Department of Education has released the guidance, Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals. The guidance urges colleges and universities to remove barriers that can prevent individuals with criminal records from pursuing higher education due to inquiries of criminal history in the college admission process. You can access the guidance here.
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Our member Eric Mann of the Labor Community Strategy Center and the Fight for the Souls of the Cities coalition has written a piece on the campaign to have the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department end their involvement in the Department of Defense’s 1033 program. The piece celebrates their victory detailing how both institutions met their campaign demands and offers lessons learned from the campaign. You can read the piece here.
Suspended Progress Report
The Legal Aid Justice Center of Virginia released the Suspended Progress Report about suspension and expulsion in Virginia public schools. The report provides an analysis of 2014-15 suspension and expulsion data, an overview of five proven behavioral interventions and alternatives and recommendations for lawmakers and policymakers. You can view the report here.
DSC JOB LISTING
ESSA Implementation Consultant
The Dignity in Schools Campaign is looking for a full-time consultant based in Washington, DC to coordinate our work around implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the period June through September. You can read the full job description here. Email a cover letter, resume and writing sample to email@example.com by May 27, 2016.
Coordinating Committee Election Results!
Thank you to everyone who voted in this year's Coordinating Committee election and to all the nominees who ran for your commitment to the campaign! We are pleased to announce the new organizations that will serve on the Coordinating Committee:
Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Kevine Boggess
Community Education Project of New Orleans, Ruth Idakula
Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, Marika Pfefferkorn
Paterson Education Fund, Linda Reid
In addition, five current members were re-elected to serve a second or extended term:
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brenda Shum
Racial Justice NOW!, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar
Citizens for a Better Greenville, Joyce Parker
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Fahd Ahmed
Youth Justice Coalition, Kim McGill and Maritza Galvez
Finally, we want to thank our Coordinating Committee members whose terms have ended and who are stepping off the Committee this year. This includes Maisie Chin from Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE), a co-founder of DSC who also served as Coordinating Committee Co-Chair from 2010 to 2015, Harold Jordan from ACLU of Pennsylvania and Marsha Weissman from the Center for Community Alternatives, who both served since 2010, and Chris Covington from the Youth Committee of Building Healthy Communities-Long Beach, who served since 2014.
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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