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CONTACT: Dignity in Schools Campaign
Fourth Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout Marks the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Largest Protest
WASHINGTON - October 7 - Organizations in three states released new reports on racial disparities in schools. The ACLU of Pennsylvania (ACLU of PA) produced new statistics for the city of Pittsburgh that show that Black students are two and half times more likely to be suspended than white students. YWCA of Madison unveiled alarmingly statistics about racial inequity in Dane County, Wisconsin in its Race to Equity report. And in Minnesota, the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP) found that almost one in five Black male students were suspended at least once in Minneapolis schools in 2012, compared with one in 29 white male students.
Organizations gained local attention from policy-makers and the press from Missouri to New Jersey and California to Ohio. The Second Annual March Against the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Raleigh, N.C.—where the Youth Organizing Institute, NC Heat and Education Justice Alliance called for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions for minor misbehavior—grabbed national media attention as The Associated Press picked up the story.
The latest national data show that more than 3 million children in grades K-12 lost instructional time in the classroom in 2009-10 because they were suspended, often for minor misbehavior and with no guarantee of adult supervision outside the school. Increasing numbers of law enforcement officers also respond to minor school disciplinary matters that used to be dealt with by a visit to the principal's office, fueling a "school-to-prison" pipeline.
The organizations participating joined together to demand school policies that reflect positive approaches to discipline, including Restorative Justice and School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. These approaches focus on building healthy relationships between teachers and students and treating discipline as a teaching moment rather than an opportunity to punish and push kids out of school. The organizations also called for federal legislation that promotes positive school climates.
Positive alternatives to school discipline recommended by the Dignity in Schools Campaign gained national support and media attention throughout the Week of Action. Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director of the Advancement Project, wrote Extreme Responses to Bullying Harm Us All for the Huffington Post. The American Prospect noted the successes of new approaches to discipline after attending a screening of the Teachers Unite Growing Fairness documentary in Washington, D.C. A youth leader of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) described her personal experience with school pushout in the LGBTQ publication The Advocate.