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Principal to Chancellor: Take the Lead on School Discipline

June 9th, 2014

Brady Smith, Gotham Gazette 

“Our schools are learning places. They’re not suspension places,” said Chancellor Fariña to a room full of principals this past Saturday. Could this mean real change in the way we view students in the classroom?

In Los Angeles schools, they call it “willful defiance”; elsewhere, “insubordination.” InNew York City, “B21″ or “defying or disobeying lawful authority” is the second most common reason students are suspended in school each day (based on the data we haveavailable).

Last year in New York City schools, black students, who comprise less than a third of the student population, served more than half of the suspensions citywide. Students with disabilities, making up twelve percent of the student body, served a whopping thirty percent of principal and superintendent suspensions. Are our black students or students with special needs more disruptive, or more dangerous, than their white peers? No.

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Segregation: Six Decades Dead In Court, But Still Alive In Many Schools

June 9th, 2014

Claudio Sanchez, NPR

Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Educationblack and white children still attend segregated schools in many parts of the country. Majority black schools are less likely to have good teachers, and kids there are more likely to be poor. That, experts say, is the single biggest obstacle to their academic success.

Cientos protestan por la igualdad educativa en EEUU

June 9th, 2014

María Peña, La Opinion

Washington – Con megáfono en mano y el apoyo de centenares de manifestantes, la estudiante dominicana Jessica Morillo de El Bronx denunció frente a la Corte Suprema de Justicia de EEUU las malas condiciones de las escuelas públicas y la falta de igualdad de oportunidades para las minorías.

A cuatro días del 60 aniversario del histórico fallo del Tribunal Supremo en el caso“Brown v. Board of Education, que prohibió la segregación de las escuelas públicas, Morillo y más de un centenar de padres, maestros y estudiantes exigieron la protección del dictamen y el cumplimiento de su promesa de igualdad para todos.

Para Morillo, activista del grupo Urban Youth Collaborative, poco ha cambiado desde 1954 porque estudiantes negros y latinos asisten a escuelas privadas de recursos y oportunidades.

“Quiero ser enfermera pero en mi escuela en Nueva York no hay consejeros que nos ayuden para ir a la universidad… la falta de recursos hace que muchos estudiantes se desanimen y terminen en la cárcel, en vez de una universidad”, dijo Morrillo, que cursa el penúltimo año de secundaria en El Bronx International School.

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

February 20th, 2014

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?

February 20th, 2014

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

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