Can We Fix the Race Problem in America’s School Discipline?

Molly Knefel, Rolling Stones Magazine

When Marlyn Tillman’s family moved from Maryland to Georgia, her oldest son was in middle school. Throughout his eighth grade year, he was told by his school’s administration that his clothing was inappropriate. Even a simple North Carolina t-shirt was targeted – because it was blue, they said, it was flagged as “gang-related.”

Things got worse when Tillman’s son got to high school, where he was in a small minority of black students. While he was in all honors and AP classes, he received frequent disciplinary referrals for his  style of dress throughout ninth grade and tenth grade. Frustrated, his mother asked for a list of clothing that was considered gang-related. “They told me they didn’t have a list, they just know it when they see it,” Tillman tellsRolling Stone. “I said, I know it when I see it, too. It’s called racism.”

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School Discipline: What Works Best?

María C. Fernández, New York Times Opinion 

To the Editor:

“Zero Tolerance, Reconsidered” points to a national trend to end the criminalization of young people in our schools.

In New York City, during the 2012-13 school year, there were more than 53,400 suspensions. Black students made up almost 53 percent of those suspensions, when they make up only 27 percent of the student population. Although we’ve seen a decrease in suspensions, the racial disparities have not changed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, can do what the Bloomberg administration didn’t: End harsh disciplinary policies; mandate and finance restorative justice programs and guidance interventions in all schools; end suspensions for “defying authority,” a vague, catchall infraction; train school staff systemwide to handle discipline; and revise the memorandum of understanding between the New York Police Department and the Department of Education to return school safety to the hands of educators.

The mayor’s stated commitment to addressing this issue is encouraging. Now is the time for action. New York City must lead the national movement to end the criminalization of our students.

Urban Youth Collaborative
New York, Jan. 7, 2014

De Blasio Poised to Overhaul School Discipline

Emmanuel Felton, The New York World

As public advocate, mayor-elect called for interventions in place of suspensions

Whomever Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio names as his choice for schools chancellor, that appointee will likely preside over a shift in how the city deals with students who break school rules.

As New York City’s public advocate, de Blasio called for a top-to-bottom review of public school discipline policies that, he said, “too often result in excessive and discriminatory suspensions of students.”

The statement was part of a June 2013 letter that de Blasio and an education reform activist wrote to outgoing Chancellor Dennis Walcott. The city Department of Education, they said, ought to “expand the use of positive interventions and restorative justice practices, such as counseling, mediation, fairness committees, and restorative circles in lieu of suspensions, except when suspension is required by law.”

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Estudiantes de NYC Piden que no se les Trate Como Criminales

Marlene Perlata, El Diario

Los estudiantes de escuelas públicas esperan que el alcalde electo, Bill de Blasio, reforme las medidas disciplinarias que actualmente se implementan en sus planteles y que calificaron de exageradas.

Ellos se quejan de acoso constante de parte de policías escolares y de castigos extremos que muchas veces terminan en arrestos. Estos fueron los problemas que varios de ellos discutieron en un panel que formó parte de la iniciativa “Hablemos de Transición” moderado por la periodista de televisión Soledad O’Brian.

Según María Fernández —del Urban Youth Collaborative, una organización formada por estudiantes— el actual sistema de disciplina “es como una versión del Stop and Frisk(Parar y Revisar)”.

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Urban Youth Collaborative Reiterates College-readiness Recommendations

Patrick Wall, Gotham Schools

A top priority for the next mayor must be to boost the “abysmal” college-readiness rates among black and Hispanic students, according to a citywide student group that rallied outside City Hall Tuesday.

The Urban Youth Collaborative released a policy paper during the rally that reiterates the group’s previous recommendations for how to close that college-readiness gap.

Just over 11 percent of black students and 12 percent of Hispanic students were prepared for college when they graduated high school last year, according to the state’s metric, which is based on the percentage of students who graduate in four years with a 75 on their English Regents exam and an 80 on their math exam. In contrast, about 39 percent of white students and almost 53 percent of Asian students met those benchmarks.

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