October 9, 2013 by mishagabrielle
The Dignity in Schools Campaign‘s (DSC) fourth annual National Week of Action on school pushout has come to an end, but our dedication to ending school pushout is always in full-motion. Earlier this year, the Black Organizing formed the Bay Area chapter of the Dignity in Schools Campaign and participated in our first DSC National Week of Action as a collective. Together, we created a video campaign that highlighted several issues related to school push-out including: racial disparities, the impact of school push-out on LGBTQ students, restorative justice as an important alternative, and finally, the importance of investing in education over law enforcement. Members, organizers, and advocates from different organizations weighed in on these topics and contributed tremendous insight.
When communities invest in education, we invest in a better community, we invest in stronger leadership and we invest in the potential for a new, more innovative, and more socially just direction. It goes without saying that the importance of investing in young people, without discrimination, is critical. To say that there just isn’t enough time or money is simply unacceptable. Suspension and expulsion can’t be our first, or even our second or third option for creating safer or more stable school environments. Youth of color are too familiar with being tossed aside. Racial profiling has become normalized and there is very little accountability when it comes to law enforcement. Black youth are too used to having their chances for success ripped from beneath them because of the failure of adults to understand, support, nurture and inspire them to succeed.
The solution is not an easy one, but we can’t afford not to think it through. Reliance on law enforcement for school discipline just doesn’t work and it further perpetuates racial disparity. It is inappropriate and dangerous to use police officers to deal effectively with everyday school discipline. Last year, Oakland Unified School District spent $5 million on its own police force. Although OUSD police would claim that their arrests have decreased over the last year, they are arresting black youth, specifically black boys, at a highly disproportionate rate. Over the past two years, “While black youth made up only 30.5% of the OUSD student population, they made up 73% of Oakland School Police’s 85 arrests.” The city of Oakland recently invested $10 million to police schools and the result was that “black youth comprised over 70% of juvenile arrests,” while only making up 29.3% of Oakland’s total youth population. What this tells us is that Oakland spends millions of dollars to arrest black boys. (See BOP’s report, From Report Card to Criminal Record: The Impact of Policing Oakland Youth)
If we’re investing in law enforcement for school discipline, then we have to ask ourselves, what are we not investing in? We’re not sufficiently investing in counselors, mentors and caring adults equipped with the tools to help young people. Nor are we investing enough in fully-funded restorative justice programs, teachers, less over-crowded classrooms, job-readiness programs and college-prep. It’s time we start to invest in solutions not suspensions and counselors not cops. It’s time to break the cycle and end school pushout.
Thank you to all of the Dignity in Schools Bay Area chapter members for your hard work leading up to and during the Week of Action. We look forward to continuing our work together to further our mutual goal of creating better, safer, and more inclusive schools and communities in the Bay Area.
Dignity in Schools Campaign Bay Area Chapter 2013 Week of Action Video Series
Part 1: Racial Disparities in School Discipline
Part 2: Pushout Implications for LGBTQ Youth
Part 3: Restorative Justice
Part 4: Invesment in Education Not Incarceration
Like and Follow the DSC Bay Area Partners:
Black Organizing Project @BlackOrgProject
ACLU Northern California @ACLU_NorCal
Public Counsel Law Center @PublicCounsel
Children’s Defense Fund @ChildDefender
Policy Link @PolicyLink
Coleman Advocates @ColemanSF1
Gay Straight Alliance Network @GSANetwork
United for Success Academy
National Dignity in Schools Campaign @DignityinSchool