U.S. Schools Should Invest in School Discipline Practices that Help Students Succeed, Not Policies that Push them Into Prison Youth, Parents and Educators Take Part in National Week of Action to End School “Pushout”

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Contact: Nancy Treviño, (786) 201-8958, nancy@dignityinschools.org
New York, NY – From Saturday, October 15 to Sunday, October 23, 2016, member organizations and allies of the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) are bringing their voices to the 7th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout. Communities in more than 40 cities will participate to demand that our school systems end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools, stop the use of zero-tolerance discipline policies, and adopt positive approaches to addressing behavior instead of relying on punitive practices that push young people out of school.  

During the Week of Action, youth and parents in several cities—from Gwinnett SToPP in Lawrenceville, GA, to the Youth Organizing Institute in Raleigh, NC, to the Missouri GSA Network in St. Louis—will march from schools to police departments, prisons and courthouses to highlight the school to prison pipeline.

From Ohio to California, local organizations will release new data and research on school pushout, including State Report Cards on racial disparities in discipline from Racial Justice NOW! in Ohio and Portland Parent Union in Oregon, research documenting the experiences of young women of color from Girls for Gender Equity in New York, and a report about the negative impacts of police in schools from the ACLU of California.

Throughout the week, communities will hold rallies, marches, forums and trainings calling on states and school districts to:

  • Shift funding from school police to counselors, peace builders and positive discipline.
  • Fund and use transformative and restorative justice, mediation and positive interventions.
  • Stop arresting and pushing out students of color, LGBTQ youth, students that are homeless, and students with disabilities at higher rates. (Black students are pushed out at the highest rates nationally.)
  • Make sure states and districts focus on school climate under the new federal law - the Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • End paddling and physical punishment in all schools.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition of over 100 organizations, is calling for an end to zero-tolerance discipline and policing in our schools, which result in much higher suspension rates and referrals to law enforcement for students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ youth, often for minor misbehavior, fueling a “school-to- prison” pipeline.

Alternative discipline approaches, including Restorative Justice and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), 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.                    

Instead of hiring school police, schools should invest in hiring more counselors and training school personnel in these positive approaches, which research shows can significantly improve behavior, decrease suspensions and expulsions and improve academic outcomes.
The Week of Action will include a major event in Pittsburgh, PA on Oct. 20th hosted by DSC, Education Rights Network and One Pittsburgh. The event will feature testimonies from youth and parents in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois as well as musical performances by Jasiri X. You can learn more here.