Just and Fair Schools Fund Newsletter: May 2012

Resource type: News

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The Just and Fair Schools Fund supports grassroots organising initiatives that work to eliminate harsh school discipline policies and practices – and that uphold the right to education for all youth. Our newsletter shares updates on parent- and youth-led victories, partner spotlights, news, and resources to promote positive school climates and discipline.

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Victories

Colorado Senate Passes Smarter Discipline Bill—Thanks to Padres y Jóvenes Unidos

Padres y Jóvenes Unidos youth helped shepherd the Smarter School Discipline Bill (SB 46) a step further towards becoming law, as it passed the State Senate. SB 46 could keep 10,000 Colorado students per year from being funneled into the juvenile justice system for minor infractions. Read more>

Oakland Leaders’ Testimony Helps Advance California Discipline Reform Bills

Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) parent and student leaders testified to California lawmakers on effective alternatives to harsh school discipline practices. Driven by their voices, the State Senate and Assembly Education Committees passed bills to reduce excessive expulsions, reduce suspensions for “willful defiant” infractions, create suspension/ expulsion alternatives, establish re-admission programs for juvenile hall youth and more. Read more here and here>

Jefferson County, KY, Superintendent Agrees to Restorative Justice Initiatives

With nearly 1000 congregation members watching, Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT) secured public commitments from the Jefferson County Public Schools (KY) Superintendent to collaborate on implementing a multi-school restorative justice pilot project, revising the district’s disciplinary code and developing a detailed bullying prevention plan. Read more background here>

Jacksonville, FL, to Expand Restorative Justice across Schools and County

At the recent Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment (ICARE) assembly – in front of over 2000 community leaders representing nearly 40 congregations – Duval County Public Schools officials agreed to link restorative justice programs and classroom positive behavior supports, and to expand related pilot projects to all middle and high schools district-wide. Later, justice and judiciary officials agreed to eventually expand a neighborhood-based restorative justice program throughout the County. Read more>

Denver Youth Lead Meeting, Winning Police Chief’s Commitment

Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU) and allies won agreement from Denver Police Chief White to re-write the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the police department and Denver Public Schools, in order to align officers’ roles and responsibilities with reformed school discipline policies (won by PJU in 2008). Read more


Partner Spotlights

Los Angeles to Disaggregate Suspension Data to the Classroom Level

Responding to a new UCLA Civil Rights Project report on racial disparities (see Resources below) – as well as the proposals of The Labor/Community Strategy Center, Community Asset Development Re-defining Education, Youth Justice Coalition and allies – Los Angeles Superintendent Deasy announced that the district will begin collecting classroom- and teacher-level suspension data this summer to identify and support teacher professional development needs. Read more>

Oakland Youth Meet with Top Education Officials

Youth Together’s Kids Count campaign met with the education advisor to California Governor Brown and the state board of education executive director about school funding inequities by race —a key factor linked to low-income students of color being pushed out of schools.

Chicago Youth Examine Student Arrest Data

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education challenged the Chicago Public Schools’ official student arrest numbers, urging the district to collect better school-based arrest data that can inform the community and educators on how to improve student discipline. Read more>

Philadelphia Campaign and Videos Tell the Real Stories of Youth

Youth United for Change launches the Safe to Count on Mecampaign challenging the negative perceptions and criminalization of Philadelphia’s youth, and urging the school district to adopt restorative justice practices that hold both youth and educators accountable in creating climates of respect. See more>

Community Organizers Bring On-the-Ground Knowledge to Journalist

Ricardo Martinez and Manuel Criollo, respectively from Padres y Jóvenes Unidos and The Labor/Community Strategy Center, shared community-based insights on helping youth succeed through smart school discipline practices, at a national juvenile justice symposium for journalists. Read more here and here>

Parent Leader Helps Select New Dallas Schools Chief

Texas Organizing Project parent leader Lakashia Wallace joins other community leaders in selecting the next Dallas Independent School District Superintendent — who vows to involve the community in decision-making and focus on boosting teacher skills. See more


Shaping the National Conversation

Dignity in Schools, 4/20/12 – Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline speaks out on how the handcuffing and arrest of six-year-old Salecia Johnson, who allegedly threw a tantrum in class, could create a misguided path to the criminal justice system. Read more>

FOX News, 4/18/12 – Especially in states where JFSF partners work, and nationwide, educators and experts identify factors leading to unreasonable student arrests. Read more>

The Washington Post, 4/16/12 – Fairfax County (VA) schools see positive gains from minimizing school transfers and shortening out-of-classroom time for students waiting on disciplinary decisions. Read more>

Campaign for Nonviolent Schools, 4/16/12 – Philadelphia Student Union youth leader Azeem Hill asserts the need to include LGBTQ students in school-to-prison pipeline conversations. Read more>

BBC News, 4/10/12 – Ticketed students, guardians, judges, a principal and a Texas Organizing Project community organizer weigh in on the components of Dallas’ school discipline system that push students out of school and into the criminal justice system. Read and hear more>

Youth Today, 4/10/12 – Juvenile court Judge Steven Teske describes research informing best-practice protocols that keep truant students out of the court system. Read more>

The Huffington Post, 4/3/12 – Reverend Jesse Jackson highlights Voices of Youth in Chicago Education’s findings on the disproportionate suspension of Black and Latino boys, in light of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death. Read more>

KQED Radio, 3/22/12 – Oakland Community Organizations and partners draw attention to student “school culture leaders” and student-educator trust to ensure safe and healthy school climates. Hear more>


Resources You Can Use

 The U.S. Human Rights Fund (USHRF) at Public Interest Projects launches a new website about how to use human rights values, standards and strategies to achieve racial justice. JFSF partners and their school discipline work played a prominent role as leaders on racial justice and human rights at a USHRF Convening that led to this new website. Learn more>

Community Asset Development Re-defining Education, Mental Health Advocacy Services and Public Counsel publishRedefining Dignity in Our Schools—reporting school-wide positive behavior programs result in a 60% reduction in disciplinary problems, improved academic achievement, reduced dropout rates, higher teacher retention and healthier school cultures. Read more>

 

The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention releases a new Journal of Juvenile Justice article on the effectiveness of community truancy boards in transitioning truant youth back into the school system. Read more>

Georgetown University Law Center students conclude in their new report, Kept Out, that suspended-, expelled- and pushed-out youth face significant barriers to re-entering traditional schools. Community Asset Development Re-defining Education was one of several contributors to this report’s findings. Read more>

The UCLA Civil Rights Project releases Suspended Education in California—an analysis revealing that racial minorities and students with disabilities in California are suspended up to five times the rate of their counterparts, without helping schools to become safer or more productive. Read more>


Just and Fair Schools Fund is an Atlantic grantee.