Bay Area Community, Advocacy Groups Form Local Alliance to End School Pushout

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May 16, 2013 by mishagabrielle

Bay Area community and advocacy organizations met on Wed., May 15, to begin the formation of a Bay Area chapter of the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC). Formed in 2009, DSC is a national coalition of organizations working to end school push-out and advocate for the rights of students, parents, and community members.

School safety and discipline have become increasingly hot topics among community groups, advocates and legislators on local, statewide and national levels. In the Bay Area, organizations are working on these issues from different angles, through policy-change and on the ground organizing.

Forming a DSC chapter creates an opportunity for groups to come together, share their knowledge, and share resources and capacity for greater impact. Organizations working on education and school discipline in various ways, joined the meeting. Fernando Martinez, National Field Organizer for Dignity in Schools, gave an overview of what being a part of a DSC chapter means and tips on how to be successful.

The best alliances “happen organically,” said Martinez. “Most of our leadership is coming from base building groups. We prioritize groups that are really working with parents and students.”

Fernando Martinez, DSC National Field Organizer

Fernando Martinez, DSC National Field Organizer

The best alliances “happen organically,” said Martinez. “Most of our leadership is coming from base building groups. We prioritize groups that are really working with parents and students.”

The Black Organizing Project (BOP), a grassroots community organization working to create more transparency and accountability around the Oakland School Police, hosted the meeting and is leading the formation of the Northern California chapter, which it says will start with the Bay Area and expand from there.

Representatives from organizations like Children’s Defense Fun, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Children Now, ACLU-Northern California, Public Counsel Law Center, Policy Link, and more, came to the orientation to hear information and begin setting the groundwork for the chapter.

The Black Organizing Project (BOP), a grassroots community organization working to create more transparency and accountability around the Oakland School Police, hosted the meeting and is leading the formation of the Bay Area chapter.

Representatives from organizations like Children’s Defense Fund, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Children Now, ACLU-Northern California, Public Counsel Law Center, Policy Link, and more, came to the orientation to hear information and begin setting the groundwork for the chapter.

DSC Group 2

DSC-NC Group Photo

“In my work, we don’t do anything locally, but it’s a great opportunity; as a parent in Oakland, it’s a great personal opportunity as well,” said Jamila Edwards, Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, Northern California.

Edwards also referenced the push towards improving school discipline in the Los Angeles area, noting the need for Bay Area community and organizations to be at the decision-making tables as well.

“I just heard about the MOU in San Francisco and that representatives are planning a briefing. There are all sorts of representatives coming from LA and it would be good to have more of a Northern California presence.”

As members of the DSC-Bay Area chapter, the organizations would work together as a regional entity of the national campaign to end the perpetual push-out of students into jails and the juvenile justice system that disproportionately impacts black and brown students, also known as the school prison pipeline.

Why BOP is Forming a DSC Chapter

BOP started the Bettering Our School System (BOSS) campaign in 2011 after the murder of Raheim Brown, an African-American teen, was shot and killed by two school police officers near a Skyline High School dance.

Brown’s death caused the organization and Oakland community members to ask questions about the Oakland school police and the impact they were really having on students and youth in the community.

“We don’t just want to rally around one incident, we want to be part of a movement,” said Jackie Byers, Executive Director of BOP. “We started looking at national work around this issue, and organizations like Make the Road New York who were part of this movement. That’s how we got connected to DSC.”

Byers said that being a part of the national coalition has helped give the organization a framework for working on issues related to school push-out and school discipline.

“It has been a great place for our members to learn, a great place for sharing information, and a great place for tools.”

The DSC Bay Area chapter will be looking for base building organizations working on school push-out and education equity in the Bay Area to join the chapter in the coming months.

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One thought on “Bay Area Community, Advocacy Groups Form Local Alliance to End School Pushout

  1. […] From the Black Organizing Project (BOP) Blog: […]

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