Communities for Just Schools Fund Newsletter: October 2015
Resource type: News
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The Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) is a new national donor collaborative that supports constituency-led organizing efforts to create positive and supportive school climates, which affirm and foster the success of all students. Building upon the groundbreaking initiatives of the Just and Fair Schools Fund, the Communities for Just Schools Fund is relaunching that body of work and expanding its efforts to support locally-based groups and campaigns, active at the local, state, and national levels, which provide momentum for meaningful school climate and school discipline reform.
School Discipline Legislation Introduced in Albany
On October 9, CJSF grantee partners Alliance for Quality Education and Urban Youth Collaborative, as well as other advocates, joined New York State Assembly Education Chair Catherine Nolan as she introduced school discipline legislation that will promote positive school climates in the state. The bill is designed to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by reducing suspensions and keeping kids in school. The bill also includes provisions for more targeted support and interventions for students.
UYC Appears on Democracy Now! to Discuss the Criminalization of Young People
On October 26, video of the brutal arrest of a Black high-school student in South Carolina by a white police officer went viral. OnOctober 28, Miaija Jawara, a high school senior in Harlem and member of both Urban Youth Collaborative and Dignity in Schools Campaign, and Kesi Foster, coordinator of the Urban Youth Collaborative, spoke on Democracy Now! to discuss the criminalization of Black and Brown youth in schools. Miaija spoke about her experiences with school safety officers in New York City.
Watch the video
Dignity in Schools National Day of Action – Education, Not Incarceration
On October 2, as part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign “National Day of Action,” local advocates, educators and experts from the Bay Area convened at Richmond RYSE Center for the first “Education Not Incarceration” event. Several of CJSF’s grantee partners – Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Black Organizing Project and Gay Straight Alliance Network – helped host the event.
UYC and other Allies Pass Student Safety Act Amendments in NYC
On September 30, the New York City Council passed much-anticipated amendments to strengthen the 2011 Student Safety Act, passed in 2011. The Act requires the New York Police Department and the Department of Education to publicly report school discipline, including suspensions, summons, and arrests. The amendments will strengthen the city’s discipline data collection practices and transparency on school discipline issues.
Shaping the National Conversation
Department of Education, 10/30/15 – The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on school discipline and civil rights in response to the classroom arrest at Richland County’s Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. In his remarks, he stated that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation.
Watch the video
Dignity in Schools Campaign, 10/28/15 – CJSF ally Dignity in Schools Campaign, whose members include several of CJSF’s grantee partners, released a statement about the South Carolina student assault and calls on districts across the country to use alternatives that promote positive school climates instead of suspensions, expulsions and arrests.
Power U Center for Social Change, 10/27/15 – CJSF grantee partner Power U Center for Social Change released a statement about the Spring Valley High School video showing a Black young woman being assaulted by a school police officer. Power U calls for an examination of policing in schools that disproportionately impacts Black girls, who are six times more likely than their white peers to be suspended in Miami schools.
Richmond Times – Dispatch, 10/25/15 – In Richmond, police and schools are working together to launch a program called LIFE, a diversion program that will work with students who are accused of committing crimes of larceny, minor vandalism and possession of stolen property. Students in the program will work to hone their problem solving and decision making skills.
Michigan Radio, 10/14/15 – The Dispute Resolution Center operates under the supervision of the Michigan State Court Administrative Office to combat the school-to-prison pipeline in Michigan. The Center recognizes that helping adolescents to stay in school rather than pushing them out, changes the young people’s life trajectories.
PBS Newshour, 10/12/15 – “Is Kindergarten too Young to Suspend a Student?”
NY DailyNews, 10/1/15 – The expansion of the Student Safety Act will require that police and education officials report when kids are handcuffed in schools, which schools have metal detectors, when ambulances are called to deal with students and more.
Resources You Can Use
New Web Page: Promising Approaches for Reducing Disciplinary Disparities in School
The Equity Project at Indiana University just launched a new web page Promising Approaches for Reducing Disciplinary Disparities in Schools as a way to help educators, advocates and policymakers find information on the wide range of programs and interventions being used by community organizations to reduce suspension and expulsion, focusing on disciplinary disparities. The Project interviewed representatives of schools, school districts, and local community organizations across the country that are actively engaged in school discipline reform, including CJSF grantee partners, CADRE (LA), Padres y Jovenes Unidos (CO) and Alliance for Quality Education (NY). CJSF fund members, Open Society Foundations and The Atlantic Philanthropies, support the project.
Visit the website
Point of Entry: The Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline
The Center for American Progress recently released its report, Point of Entry: The Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline, which highlights the trends around preschool discipline, and details the interconnected factors that augment these trends, including the rise of zero-tolerance policies and mental health issues in young children. It also explores factors that cause suspensions and expulsions, which include the implicit biases of teacher and school administrators, the lack of resources for teachers, and more. Finally, the report provides recommendations and approaches that will help increase the availability of protective factors that ensure that young children stay in school, while helping schools and teachers resist criminalizing African American children.
Download the report
Department of Justice Files Statement of Interest in Kentucky School Handcuffing Case
On October 2, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in Kentucky, where two elementary school children allege that a school resource officer (SRO) violated their rights when they were handcuffed in school, behind their backs, above their elbow, and at their biceps. The statement of interest was filed to provide the court with a framework to assess the plaintiffs’ claim; it explains the requirements to protect the rights of children, particularly children with disabilities, in their interactions with SROs. The Justice Department emphasizes that school resource officers should not handle routine disciplinary incidents that school officials should properly address.
Read the press release
Communities for Just Schools Fund (formerly Just and Fair Schools Fund) is an Atlantic grantee.