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Just and Fair Schools Fund Newsletter: April 2013

Resource type: News

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Watch this quick video to learn about the Just and Fair School Fund’s grant awards, and the youth, parents, congregations, and teachers they support around the country.


The Just and Fair Schools Fund is pleased to announce $3.8 million in grants over two years to 35 community organizations winning critical reform of harsh school discipline and aggressive school policing that lead to high rates of suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests of youth – most often for minor misbehavior.   Every year, our nation suspends 3.3 million students, and each of these suspensions slashes a student’s chance to succeed and chance to dream. Based in 15 states and working at the local, state, and national levels, the grantees of the Fund are working to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed and dream – especially youth of color, LGBTQ youth, immigrant youth, youth with disabilities, and others who are systematically denied this chance by extreme school discipline policies. Read more >




Miami Congregations Win Sweeping Commitments to Reduce Suspensions

Over a thousand congregation members of People Acting for Community Together (PACT) secured groundbreaking commitments from Miami-Dade Public Schools on April 15.  The District’s Chief Operating Officer committed to improve the quality of in-school suspension programs; reduce out-of-school suspensions to less than 10% of each school’s student population within five years; provide detailed and disaggregated annual data on out-of-school suspensions; and meet with PACT within one month to begin follow-up and implementation. Read more >

San Francisco Increases Restorative Practices Funding by 27%

After months of advocacy by Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, on April 9 the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously approved nearly $1 million in funding for teacher and staff professional development on restorative justice practices, with the goal of reducing unnecessary suspensions, expulsions, school push-outs and referrals to the juvenile justice system, and improving the school climate and relationships of trust between students and faculty/staff. Read more > 

Fort Myers, FL, Schools Agree to Congregations’ Demands for Reform

On April 8, more than one thousand Lee Interfaith for Empowerment (LIFE) congregation leaders won commitments from the Lee County Schools Superintendent to revise the Student Code of Conduct, hire a bullying prevention coordinator, and implement an effective bullying prevention program district-wide. Read more >



Partner Spotlights

Detroit Youth Demand an End to Zero Tolerance

On March 23, 450 youth and adult leaders with Harriet Tubman Center’s Youth Voice protested against the Detroit school policies that lead to 25,000 suspensions per year for just 70,000 students. Watch more and read more >

NYC Youth, Parents, and Teachers Stand with Officials for Discipline Reform

On April 15, youth, parents, and education leaders of Desis Rising Up & Moving, New Settlement Parent Action Committee, Teachers Unite, Urban Youth Collaborative, and fellow Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York members gathered at the steps of New York City Hall with mayoral candidates, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and citywide elected officials all calling for an end to racial disparities in school suspensions and arrests. Read more and hear more >

Youth of Color Issue National Statement on School Safety and Guns

Youth Justice Coalition and the Dignity in Schools Campaign released You Can’t Build Peace with a Piece – a national statement from youth of color on school safety and gun violence. Read more >

L.A. Youth and Officials Seek to End Suspensions for “Willful Defiance”

Developed by youth leaders from the Labor/Community Strategy Center, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and their allies, a resolution will go before the Los Angeles Unified School Board to end suspensions for acts of willful defiance. More than half of all suspensions and a quarter of expulsions in California schools are for “willful defiance” of school authorities.  Read more here and here > 

Students Advise U.S. Department of Education on School Safety

On March 18, student leaders from Youth Justice Coalition, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, Dignity in Schools Campaign, and Alliance for Educational Justice met with the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Office of Safe and Healthy Students Director David Esquith to discuss school safety and positive alternatives to harsh school discipline. Read more >

Miami Youth Oppose Proposals to Arm Teachers

Power U Center for Social Change youth leaders, Advancement Project, and allies (see below) oppose proposals for armed schoolteachers on campus. Read more >

Upcoming Events

Apr 24   |   4 pm ETThe U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services webinarAt the Intersection of School Safety and Supportive DisciplineExplore potential roles, responsibilities, and training requirements of school resource officers. Learn more > 

Apr 29   |   4 pm ETDignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) webinar trainingDSC Model Code: School PolicingLearn from DSC staff and members on their Model Code on Education and Dignity. This webinar will focus on school policing and avoiding criminalization of students. Learn more >

Shaping the National Conversation

The New York Times, 4/12/13 – While using armed guards in schools to prevent crime has not yet proven effective, there has been a spike in arrests (especially of Black and Latino youth) for nonviolent misbehavior. Read more > 

MSNBC, 4/10/13 – “Punishing schools for low scores creates incentives for schools to keep out and push out students who score poorly on tests….  Although scores go up, our children and our society suffer from the growing school-to-prison pipeline.”  Read more >  

The New York Times, 4/3/13 – Effective restorative justice practices contribute to safer school climates and steer students away from violence and a life in jail. Read more > 

The New York Times, 4/2/13 – The National Rifle Association’s school safety plan includes re-structuring schools to be more prison-like. Read more > 

The Root, 4/2/13 – JFSF, Advancement Project, and allies describe the U.S. Justice Department’s recent consent decree in Meridian, MS, as an effective strategy to end severe school discipline targeting Black youth. Read more > 

The Christian Science Monitor, 3/31/13 – Racial bias fuels the disproportionality in severe school discipline sentences. Read more > 

New American Media, 3/26/13 – “Focus on altering the behavior of teachers and administrators, and, almost like magic, the kids stop fighting and acting out in class. They’re more interested in school, they’re happier and feel safer.” Read more >

Resources You Can Use

A Real Fix: The Gun-Free Way to School Safety – Advancement Project released a safety plan for positive school climates, thoughtful and comprehensive crisis plans, and improved safety features that don’t turn schools into fortresses. Read more > 

Education Under Arrest – This PBS Tavis Smiley Reports special addresses how zero tolerance policies in schools have created a school-to-prison pipeline – expelling children or sending them to jail for offenses as petty as swearing or chewing gum in class. See more > – Open Society Foundations and the Foundation Center launched a new online resource portal to help grantmaking organizations facilitate engagement, catalyze collaboration, and promote strategic decision-making in the field of black male achievement. Learn more > 

Out of School and Off Track – The UCLA’s Civil Rights Project finds that suspensions affected as many as one in nine middle and high school students, with suspension rates for African-American and Latino students doubling between 1973 and 2010, ultimately derailing students’ academic achievement. Learn more>  

Exclusionary School Discipline – This Warren Institute paper reviews data on school discipline, describes the most widely used alternatives to out-of-school (exclusionary) suspension and expulsion, and assesses the potential of each to improve school and student level outcomes. Read more >


The National Juvenile Justice Network seeks applications for the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. Learn more >  

Texas Organizing Project seeks a Campaign Organizer for their Safe Schools: Strong Academics Campaign. Learn more > 

Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing (New York, NY) seeks a Program Officer for their Leadership Pipeline and Healthy Communities. Learn more > 

Philadelphia Student Union seeks a Youth Organizer and an Individual Donor Coordinator. Learn more >

Just and Fair Schools Fund is an Atlantic grantee.

Related Resources


Children & Youth, School Discipline Reform

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