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Just and Fair Schools Fund Newsletter: August 2012

Resource type: News

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The Just and Fair Schools Fund (JFSF) supports grassroots organizing 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-, youth-, and congregation-led victories, partner spotlights, news, and resources to promote positive school climates and discipline.


Philadelphia Youth Leaders Celebrate an 87% Drop in Expulsions

Expulsions in Philadelphia decreased from 237 to 30 between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 school years, thanks to reforms won by Youth United for Change (YUC), such as removal of the words “zero tolerance” from the student code of conduct, discretion for principals to issue expulsion waivers, and the formation of a District Expulsion Committee to review cases and prevent automatic expulsions.  In drafting a new Student Code of Conduct, the School District is now incorporating proposals from the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools (CNS) – which includes YUC and Philadelphia Student Union – that will promote safe and positive learning environments for all students and will further decrease reliance on suspensions and expulsions. Read more on CNS’ involvement with the revised code>

Partner Spotlights

Louisville Schools Back Whole School Restorative Practices

Prompted by public commitments to Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT), Jefferson County Public Schools (KY) released research that found most discipline referrals to be exclusionary, ineffective and harmful. The report also pointed to restorative justice practices as a positive alternative, which the District is beginning to implement. Read the research>

L.A. Organizers Discuss Community Leadership for Discipline Reform

Voices from the Frontlines radio program – hosted by The Labor/Community Strategy Center – featured Youth Justice Coalition’s (YJC) Kim McGill, who discusses recruiting and training young organizers around issues of extreme and unfair school discipline, and what it means to build a movement led by communities, especially youth, of color. Hear more>

New York Organizers Share Strategies for Smart School Discipline

Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) and ally Advancement Project led a workshop for advocates on effective approaches to win fair and effective school discipline policies, at the Justice Works New York Conference (see photo below). Read more>

Shaping the National Conversation

New York Times, 8/7/12 – The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California-Los Angeles released an unprecedented national analysis of federal education data, documenting vastly higher rates of suspensions for children with disabilities than without disabilities, with the highest rates among black children with disabilities. Read more>

Washington Post, 7/30/12 – Maisha Simmons of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation describes the Forward Promise initiative, as well as effective approaches to classroom discipline that improve the health and life opportunities for young men of color. Read more>

The White House, 7/26/12 – President Obama issues an executive order creating the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, including “promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.” Read more>

Washington Post, 7/24/12 – The Maryland Board of Education gives unanimous preliminary approval to a statewide “common-sense change” to teach students positive behavior, keep them in school and eliminate extreme discipline practices. Read more>

NEA Today, 7/23/12 – National Education Association Executive Director John Stocks condemns zero tolerance policies as an egregious violation of civil rights, and vows to overhaul school discipline via community partnerships. Read more>

Huffington Post, 7/20/12 – Working closely with The Labor/Community Strategy Center and allies, the Los Angeles schools police chief wants students to be counseled and mentored rather than ticketed for minor infractions. Read more>

The Times Picayune, 7/16/12 – In response to rising incidents of students being pushed out of their schools, Louisiana’s Recovery School District specifies and limits which behaviors can lead to expulsion. Read more>

Huffington Post, 7/12/12 – The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on seclusion and restraint in schools – student punishments that are found excessive, harmful and counterproductive. Read more>

iWatch News, 7/11/12 – Oakland Unified School District finds peer counseling and arts programs as promising alternatives to severe school discipline. Read more>

Resources You Can Use

CPER Video — Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) – a sister fund of JFSF – released a new video celebrating partners who have galvanized youth, parents, community leaders, public officials and others in transforming public education across the country. The documentary features Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PSU), Southern Echo and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) – organizations jointly supported by CPER and JFSF. See more>

Just and Fair Schools Fund is an Atlantic grantee.

Related Resources


Children & Youth, School Discipline Reform

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United States


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