NESRI and the Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY) as part of the A+ NYC coalition helped create an Education Roadmap for NYC public schools targeted at the candidates running for mayor this fall. The Roadmap calls on the next mayor to adopt a new framework for education that focuses on the whole child and creates welcoming and supportive school environments for learning.
The Roadmap reflects human rights principles for education, including a vision for every “student to be treated as a whole child with physical, emotional, social and academic potential.” This positive vision for schools includes recommendations to shift NYC’s approach to school discipline to:
- Replace suspensions with constructive approaches that keep students in school,
- Invest in hiring counselors, social workers and other support staff to meet students’ social and emotional needs, and
- Reduce the role of NYPD in schools and to stop arrests and summonses for school disciplinary matters.
The Roadmap report features the work of DSC-NY’s pilot school initiative at the Morris High School Campus in the Bronx as a model for implementing restorative practices in New York City schools. At the Morris Campus, DSC-NY member Sistas and Brothas United has partnered with school principals and staff to provide training and support to implement restorative practices and peer mediation. These positive approaches are being used to building campus unity and to implement healing disciplinary processes as alternatives to suspension.
The school discipline recommendations in the Education Roadmap build on the work of NESRI and DSC-NY to revise the NYC School Discipline Code. In June, over 100 DSC-NY members attended a Department of Education hearing on the Discipline Code and two dozen members testified calling for an end to suspensions for minor behavior infractions, like defying authority, and for a new policy mandating the use of positive guidance interventions, like restorative practices, before suspension. NESRI also served on the NY School-Justice Partnership Task Force, convened by former NY State Supreme Court Judge Judith Kaye, which released its report with detailed recommendations for the next mayor on how to keep kids in school and out of court.
The process to create the A+ NYC Education Roadmap began with seventy-five community workshops held throughout NYC, in which over 1,000 New Yorkers shared their ideas about public education. NESRI and DSC-NY then joined the Design Team which identified 27 draft policy ideas for the new mayor, which included recommendations for reducing suspensions and arrests and implementing positive approaches to discipline. The Design Team’s proposals were mounted in an interactive display on a school bus that traveled around the city where more than 1,800 NYC residents reviewed the proposals and voted on the policy priorities that are featured in the education roadmap report.
Members of the A+ NYC Coalition include DSC-NY members Advocates for Children, Brooklyn Movement Center, Coalition for Asian-American Children and Families, Girls for Gender Equity, Make the Road New York, NESRI, New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, Sistas and Brothas United and the Urban Youth Collaborative.