8 BILLS TO CURB HARSH SCHOOL DISCIPLINE MOVE FORWARD IN LEGISLATURE
Eight nice, new bills meant to address the over 700,000 student suspensions, that take place in California schools every year, have taken the next step in the legislative process.
“Students, parents, teachers, school board members, law enforcement, and superintendents from around the state are calling for real change in the way we treat children who are struggling in our schools and their voices are finally being heard in Sacramento,” said Laura Faer, Education Rights Director at Public Counsel.
According Public Counsel spokesman, Michael Soller, the bills would address some of the worst problems with school discipline. For instance, SB 1235 would bring evidence-based alternatives that improve school climate and attendance rates and raise academic achievement at schools that use harsh discipline police to suspend more than 25% of students every year.
Another bill, AB 2616, would utilize outside resources like PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) and Restorative Justice instead of doling out harsh student suspensions.
A third bill, AB 2537, addresses the issue of state rules that require school officials to immediately suspend for certain infractions and instead,would allow principals and superintendents more discretion.
Public Counsel, a not-for-profit law firm, cosponsored several of the bills and has been a major advocate against the once fashionable zero tolerance policies that now are seen as harmful strategies that mostly serve to push students out of the state’s public schools at an alarming rate.
Fix School Discipline, a project of The Public Counsel, has brought together partner groups that include law enforcement, civil rights organizations, parents groups and children’s advocates, all dedicated to working for the bills’ passage.
(The Fix School Discipline site has more info, including the full list of bills, and a section where students and parents are urged to video their own stories of school suspension or expulsion.)
According to the site, “more than 80% of Californians want to fix school discipline rules to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and give teachers more tools to manage classroom behavior.”
AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF SCHOOLS & SCHOOL DISCIPLINE, ROOSEVELT HIGH IS HAVING A YOUTH-LED CONFERENCE
Boyle Heights-located Roosevelt High School is holding a youth-led conference, Saturday, June 9, “to work toward serious changes to unjust education policies,” including out of school suspensions and other issues that the organizers say cause the “school to prison pipeline.”
This is from the press release on the conference:
Organized by a group of Roosevelt High School educators and students, the conference—East Side Stories: Youth Transformation Across Los Angeles—seeks to foster youth empowerment and community activism. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Roosevelt High School, 456 South Mathews Street, Los Angeles. Admission is free and includes breakfast and lunch.
Jorge Lopez, a Roosevelt teacher who is one of the organizers of East Side Stories, said that the school’s faculty looked at the large number of student clubs on campus focused on social justice issues, and began meeting with student leaders to discuss how they could build a youth activism movement.
The meetings birthed the East Side Stories, which Lopez said is intended to bring youth leaders from around LA together with workshops, panels, live music, food, poetry readings, etc. to address the issues that affect students the most.
“The idea of hosting a large youth empowerment conference at Roosevelt …we felt would have a tremendous effect on, not only uniting progressive educators and youth on campus, but throughout the East side and Los Angeles,” he said.
“The topics addressed in the conference,” said Lopez, “are the most pressing issues generated by youth in a survey that our collective circulated at our schools. In turn, our students developed workshops on those issues.”
Lopez said he hopes that the conference’s youth-talking-to youth format will have a real effect. “Young people listen closely when other young and empowered youth speak.”