The Dignity in Schools Campaign held its 3rd Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout during the week of September 29 to October 6, 2012. This year’s theme–Pushout Rates Are Scary: Over 3 Million Students Are Suspended Out-of-School Each Year.
Throughout the week, thousands of parents, students, educators and advocates in over 20 cities held actions and events to expose the school pushout crisis and advocate for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.
This year’s Week of Action followed the launch of the Solutions Not Suspensions Initiative: A Call for a Moratorium on Out-of-School Suspensions by DSC and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign, which kicked off with a press conference in Los Angeles, CA on August 21, 2012.
Saturday, September 29
The Week of Action kicked off on Saturday with a zombie flash mob and rally (follow links for video) led by Blocks Together and Access Living’s Advanced Youth Leadership Power in Chicago, IL, and a parent training on alternative discipline in Valdosta, GA led by Gwinnett SToPP.
On Saturday in Mississippi, the Fannie Lou Hamer Center for Change facilitated a parent and youth workshop in Eupora, and Southern Echo and the MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable hosted “Support Students, Not Suspend Them” a community deduction and legislative forum in Greenville. In New Jersey, the Paterson Education Fund held a student-led march and rally at the steps of the Federal Building in Paterson, and the Statewide Education Organizing Committee held a rally in Jersey City.
Tuesday, October 2
Gwinnett SToPP, ACLU of GA, and Softer Touch held “A Haunted Education” museum walk and rally at the Lawrenceville Historic Square in Lawrenceville, GA. That same day in New Orleans, LA, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) hosted a screening of the documentary “What Will It Take to Stop the School to Prison Pipeline?” and a meeting where parents, students, community activists and stakeholders discussed the pushout crisis in Louisiana. The Dignity in Schools Campaign Los Angeles Chapter (DSC-LA) also held the first of three workshops during the Week of Action, this one a human rights training and discussion on the moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.
Thursday, October 4
The Power U Center for Social Change of Miami, Florida held a rally to call for an end to out-of-school suspensions, and in California, DSC-LA hosted a forum on school pushout and introduction to the DSC Model Code in the San Fernando Valley. Also on Thursday, the Boston Student Advisory Council/Youth on Board hosted a Listening Project at 4 different train stations in Boston, MA where youth leaders interviewed hundreds of students about their experiences with school discipline. In Detroit, Michigan, students at Osborn High School together with the ACLU of Michigan launched the “Grads not Inmates” campaign with a rally.
Friday, October 5
Chicago-based parent-led community organization POWER-PAC held their quarterly membership meeting of the school year to locally launch the Model Code and call for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions. In New York, over 200 students, parents, teachers and community members joined DSC New York for a candlelight vigil and march across the Brooklyn Bridge carrying life-size cut outs of students, representing 260 number of students suspended every day in New York City public schools. Throughout the Week of Action, NYCLU also distributed over 3,000 of their Know Your Rights cards to students at ten different NYC public schools.
Saturday, October 6
On the final Saturday, Portland Parent Union held a Restorative Listening Dialogue on Saturday to share experiences with suspensions between students, parents and school principals and discuss restorative practices as an alternative. DSC-LA hosted Health Happens in Schools: a forum on creating positive school environments, parent participation in schools, and academic success.
In Raleigh, NC multi-cultural youth organization NC H.E.A.T. held a march from Washington GT Magnet Elementary School to Central Prison to raise awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline and policies that lead to school pushout. Meanwhile, in Delavan, WI during the Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) Midwest Regional Conference, the DSC & Blocks Together facilitated a workshop titled “Solutions Not Suspensions” to discuss the School to Prison Pipeline problem and walk through the DSC Model Code as a solution.
Updates on National Activities during Week of Action
During the Week of Action, DSC continued to engage federal and local policy-makers to call for positive approaches to discipline and greater transparency and accountability for disciplinary data. On October 5, DSC submitted a letter to the Obama Administration calling for a focus on school climate and discipline as part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. DSC members also began a coordinated effort to submit Open Records Requests to their local school districts at the same time that districts are required to submit data this fall to the federal government for the bi-annual Civil Rights Data Collection. DSC also sent a letter to the Office for Civil Rights calling for more accurate data collection from districts.
To build awareness and support implementation of the DSC Model Code on Education and Dignity, we held a webinar on October 2 attended by nearly 100 community members, policy-makers and advocates from around the country to provide an overview of the Code. This fall we will begin a series of more indepth webinars on specific topics in the Code. You can download the powerpoint from this first webinar here.
Although the 2012 Week of Action is now officially over, you can continue to raise awareness and take action to end school pushout in your community!
- Sign-on to our Call for a Moratorium on Out of School Suspensions
- Share Alternatives to Suspension with Members of Your Community – Download the DSC Model Code