National Education Justice Organizations to Host a Day of Action Demanding Police-Free Schools
WASHINGTON – Today on Capitol Hill, the Alliance for Educational Justice, Advancement Project’s national office, along with grassroots organizations from around the country will host the 2018 Day of Action to End the War on Youth. The youth-led direct action begins at noon EST in front of the Department of Education and will be followed by a press briefing at 2:00 p.m. in the Rayburn Building Room 2360. Today’s Day of Action comes ahead of the anticipated repeal of Obama-era school discipline guidance and the release of a new report by the Federal Commission on School Safety. Students, parents and advocates from across the country will demand investments in restorative justice and mental health resources as opposed to additional campus police officers, student surveillance and arming school staff.
“The Department of Education under Betsy DeVos has turned its back on civil rights. They have consistently failed students by supporting policies such as zero tolerance that are proven to increase levels of discrimination experienced by students of color,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project’s national office. “We have already seen the Department of Education lessen the standard on Title IX enforcement and we will not stand by and allow DeVos to continue to let students to go unprotected.”
“School pushout and criminalization is faced by Black and Brown students on a daily basis, and it is the responsibility of Congress and local school districts to fight this wave of discrimination that young people are being confronted with from their neighborhoods to their classrooms,” continued Dianis.
The current Federal School Discipline Guidance is a tool for school districts to address discriminatory treatment of students of color and students with disabilities. The Guidance also encourages schools to adopt practices that prioritize improving school climate and safety for all students. It acts as a major incentive for school districts to improve data collection, implement inclusive practices and dedicate resources towards reforming school discipline. The rescission of these tools will send a clear message that the Department of Education is no longer concerned about discrimination in public schools.
“The way that DeVos has stripped away student protections sends a dangerous message to cities and school districts,” said Jonathan Stith, Executive Director of Alliance for Educational Justice. “We have seen how over policing has created a culture of violence in schools where young people of color are being criminalized for normal behavior and even assaulted by school police.”
“Students know firsthand the impact, effect and costs of over policing,” continued Stith. “They’re clear that the same police that are in schools are the same police shooting down unarmed people in the streets and deporting families. These young people are here to send the Department of Education and Congress a message that state violence in education will not go unchecked. Young people are defining safety on their own terms, and we have to listen.”
End War On Youth National Action was created by the Alliance in 2014 to educate young people about state violence in their schools and neighborhoods, mobilize students and their families to take action together, and organize to challenge discrimination against their communities. The press briefing will include student testimony, as well as demands featured in the AEJ and Advancement Project joint report, We Came to Learn: A Call for Police Free Schools.
“We have to acknowledge the intersecting identities of the students that are affected by these policies. Increasing the amount of police and security measures in schools will heighten violence against trans students of color. Trump has already attempted to erase the existence of trans people and we need the Department of Education to endorse policies that protect us in schools,” said Eduardo Yañez, 18, Youth Organizer for Padres y Jóvenes Unidos.
This national mobilization of more than 50 youth organizers from 10 AEJ organizations and cities calls on school districts across the country to reject the anticipated Federal Commission on School Safety recommendations, and instead, support the #PoliceFreeSchools platform.
Alliance for Educational Justice is comprised of membership organizations committed to the engagement of youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and their parents- key constituencies deeply impacted by racialized achievement gaps and bias-based disparities in school disciplinary policies.
Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.