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Illinois Youth and Allies Win Groundbreaking Legislation

Resource type: News

Catalyst Chicago | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Sarah Blau

Students from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, known as VOYCE, gathered Tuesday with other activists to celebrate passage of a bill that for the first time requires all schools, including charters, to publicly report school discipline data and requires districts that are in the top 20 percent in the use of suspensions and expulsion to submit an improvement plan to the state.

The discipline data will be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, age, grade level, limited English proficiency, type of incident and the duration of the suspension or expulsion, making it easier to track racial disparities. Senate Bill 2793 was passed May 30 and by this fall, the Illinois State Board of Education must prepare a report on discipline in all Illinois school districts. The bill was intended to curb the use of harsh discipline that disproportionately affects African-American young men.

“We shouldn’t be pushed out of schools for minor offenses, and this is a big first step in fixing our broken system – showing how students are treated in schools,” said Roosevelt High sophomore and VOYCE member Jamie Adams. VOYCE students helped draft the bill in partnership with other members of the Campaign for Common Sense Discipline. The bill is the first of its kind in the country to address an issue that has drawn national attention.

VOYCE is a grantee (via the Just and Fair Schools Fund at Public Interest Projectsof Atlantic’s Children & Youth programme in the United States, which funds efforts to reform school discipline policies.