Recap on the Week of Action Against School Pushout!

pushbackiconFrom September 28 to October 7, the Youth Organizing Institute, NC HEAT and the Education Justice Alliance held a Week of Action against school pushout, participating in NC Pride, holding a Press Conference outside of the Wake County School Board office, holding a march in downtown Raleigh against the school-to-prison pipeline, and phone banking to remind people to vote in the school board election.  Here’s a recap of each event:

Saturday, September 28: NC Pride

Youth from NC HEAT, iNSIDEoUT and various high schools throughout the triangle march together in the NC Pride parade.

Youth from NC HEAT, iNSIDEoUT and various high schools throughout the triangle march together in the NC Pride parade.

NC HEAT and allies preparing for pride and the march against school push out!

NC HEAT and allies preparing for pride and the march against school push out!

Alongside iNSIDEoUT and around 50 other teens, NC HEAT marched in the NC Pride parade in Durham to raise awareness for the criminalization of queer youth and youth of color.  It was a fun celebration and a festive way to kick off the week!

Tuesday, October 1: Press Conference to Launch Campaign for a Pause in Suspensions

Members of NC HEAT, YOI and EJA speak out against suspensions in Wake County.

Members of NC HEAT, YOI and EJA speak out against suspensions in Wake County.

News 14 Carolina – “Wake Co. group wants school district to ease suspension policy”

YOI, NC HEAT and the Education Justice Alliance came together to hold a press conference in front of the Wake County Public School System central office in Cary to announce our shared campaign calling for a pause on suspensions in Wake County.  We spoke in front of the WCPSS building as well as during public comment after the school board meeting.  Click here for a video of NC HEAT members speaking during public comment (0:21:00).

Friday, October 4: 2nd Annual March to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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News & Observer WakeEd blog- “Groups to march to Central Prison to protest Wake County school discipline policies”

News & Observer – “Raleigh groups march to reduce youth imprisonment”

NC HEAT, YOI, EJA and other allies including [??], Internationalist Prison Books Collective and UNControllables marched together to speak out against school push out–policies that lead to students of color, queer youth, students with disabilities and low-income students being suspended, expelled or dropping out at a higher rate than their peers.  The march began with a speak-out at Washington GT Elementary in Raleigh and processed to NC Central Prison, choosing the route to represent the school-to-prison pipeline.  Along the way, marchers stopped outside of Shaw University at the memorial plaque for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to honor radical history and to remember those we love who fight for justice every day.  We then held a noise demonstration outside of  Central Prison with drums and our voices, letting prisoners know that they are not forgotten and not alone.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the week’s events!  We wrapped up on Monday by making phone calls to remind voters about the school board candidates.  Here is an N&O article about the school board election results.

Stay tuned as we announce our upcoming plans for the end of the year!

Wake County School Board Candidates Answer Questions about Discipline Disparities and Youth Engagement

This September, NC HEAT members attended a series of candidate forums for aspiring Wake County school board members and posed questions around discipline issues and youth voice and engagement in education policy issues.  These questions were also emailed to the candidates who had 10 days to respond.

Four of the eight candidates went on record, answering the questions the youth posed.

Their answers can be found on this pdf flier, which is a compilation of their responses

Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC
Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC

NC HEAT Plans Second Annual March

flier smaller fileAs part of Dignity in School’s National Week of Action Against School Pushout, NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens) and the Youth Organizing Institute are calling for a MARCH & SPEAK-OUT against the School-to-Prison pipeline.

This is the Second Annual march, led by NC HEAT members.

The march will start with a speak out at Washington Elementary in Raleigh (1000 Fayetteville St.) and proceed to Central Prison for a demonstration with music, drums and raised voices!

Bring friends, signs and noisemakers, and WEAR YOUR BACKPACKS! Show up to push back against school pushouts!

Big Plans for the National Week of Action!

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On September 21, members of YOI, NCHEAT and the Education Justice Alliance met to discuss our plans for the upcoming year.  In particular, we planned out the upcoming Week of Action, part of Dignity in School’s National Week of Action Against School Pushout. The Week of Action will take place from September 28 through October 5.  NCHEAT will start out the week by marching at NC Pride in Durham on September 28.  On October 1, there will be a press conference to announce YOI, NCHEAT and EJA’s campaign for a moratorium on out-of-state suspensions, taking place  immediately before a Wake County School Board meeting at which students and parents will speak out against the crisis of suspensions in Wake County.  On October 4, NCHEAT will lead Push Back Against Push Out, a youth-led march against school pushout and the prison-industrial-complex. YOI and NCHEAT members planned out costumes, speeches and chants in preparation.

Get excited!  More info on the Week of Action will be announced soon.

Youth Grill Wake School Board Candidates on Discipline Issues

Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC
Sept 10, 2013: NC HEAT members line up to ask questions at Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC

On Monday, September 9, seven NC HEAT members attended the Cary Candidate forum located at Covenant Christian church, to ask perspective school board members the questions about the epidemic of suspensions and racial disparities in school discipline practices.   NC HEAT members used data-driven research to generate thought-provoking questions to encourage candidates to discuss their vision for how to address the school-to-prison pipeline in Wake County.

NC HEAT members highlighted that data shows that youth of color and disabled youth are suspended and pushed out of public schools at a rates alarmingly higher than their white, non-special needs counterparts.  Perspective candidates Nancy Caggia and Bill Fetcher seemed unable or unprepared to adequately address these policies issues.  Both candidates stated that they would not support a Moratorium on Out-of-School Suspensions.  After hearing the research and questions presented by NC HEAT members, NC HEAT hopes that the candidates will consider working more closely with students and communities to solve our school discipline crisis and create policies that treat every student, regardless of race, gender, gender presentation, ability, or sexual orientation with dignity.

NC HEAT wants YOU to emerge as a HERO!

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On Tuesday, September 2, NC HEAT (North Carolina Heroes Emerging Among Teens) invites passionate, powerful high school youth in the Triangle Area to attend their back-to-school orientation meeting. NC HEAT is a united multicultural group of youth from different aspects of life seeking a common purpose. We organize and advocate for civil rights and justice in our community for ourselves and for future generations. On Tuesday, we will discuss the history and legacy of NC HEAT, the work we have done in the past to improve our schools and communities, the work that we can do together in the future, and the current political landscape in the area as it pertains to education and the lives of youth.
The meeting will be held at DH Hill Library on NC State University’s campus fro 5pm to 6:30pm, we’ll have snacks and transportation can be provided if needed.  Contact ladylettuce95[at]gmail[dot]com if you need a ride.
Come out and join a community of passionate and engaged students! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

YOI Students Graduate

Graduation picture

On August 16, the Youth Organizing Institute gathered to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of this year’s participants.  Graduates chatted and shared delicious food provided by community caterer, Eva Panjwani.  We shared stories with movement elders and family members in the historic WW Finlator Hall at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

After a report-back from our NC to FL Youth Solidarity delegation to support the Dream Defenders, youth shared projects and performances they had worked on independently in small groups. Family and community members offered snaps and applause as youth performed poems, presentations, and art pieces on issues in the school system, intersections of oppression, the evolution of sexism and feminism, and how they can solve issues in their own communities. As this year’s YOI graduates transition into the school year, we are excited to support them in the amazing work they’ll embark on in their own schools and communities!

Youth Join Dream Defenders

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Youth from the Youth Organizing Institute, NC HEAT, and the North Carolina Student Power Union organized a caravan to Florida to join the Dream Defenders. The Dream Defenders are occupying the state capital building!

As we joined the occupation yesterday history was  made as it was the first time ever enough letters were received to trigger a vote for a special session. The session will review stand your ground laws.

Go to dreamdefenders.com for more information

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Nationwide Fight Against School Push Out

no peace with a peaceThe School-to-Prison Pipeline is a national issue and requires creating a national fightback. The Dignity in Schools Campaign is helping local organizations coordinate and develop their campaigns to end this pipeline.  Here are some of the recent victories, including in Wake County, NC.

DSC Members Win Community Involvement in School Resource Officer Training for Wake County Schools

North Carolina – On June 4, students with DSC member organizations NC HEAT/Youth Organizing Institute and the Education Justice Alliance, together with the Coalition of Concerned Parents of African American Children, attended the Wake County Public School System Board meeting to address the overuse of harsh discipline practices and arrests at the hands of School Resource Officers (SROs).

Click the link below to read the full story:

http://www.dignityinschools.org/blog/dsc-members-win-community-involvement-school-resource-officer-training-wake-county-schools

DSC Members Celebrate Victory in Los Angeles

On Tuesday, May 14, DSC members CADRE, Public Counsel Law Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, and Children’s Defense Fund-California working with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition of Los Angeles on the Every Student Matters Campaign celebrated a groundbreaking victory when the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a School Climate Bill of Rights that: bans suspensions for willful defiance; calls for stepped up implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support and for the first time Restorative Justice; makes discipline, citation, and school arrest data available to students and parents; and clarifies the role of police in schools.

Click the link below for the full story:

http://www.dignityinschools.org/blog/dsc-members-celebrate-victory-los-angeles

D.O.E. Holds Annual Discipline Code Public Hearing

Charlotte Pope, Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York, 06/10/2013dsc main graphic

A chant of “Solutions not suspensions” echoed through the Stuyvesant High School auditorium Thursday evening, where a crowd largely made up of youth leaders assembled for the Department of Education’s annual hearing on the Discipline Code.

Click the link below for the full story:

http://www.dignityinschools.org/blog/doe-holds-annual-discipline-code-public-hearing

YOI Goes to Greensboro

pictured: triangle youth in front of statues of the "Greensboro Four," four A&T students who began the sit-in movement of the 1960s
pictured: triangle youth in front of statues of the “Greensboro Four,” four A&T students who began the sit-in movement of the 1960s

On Thursday, July 11th, YOI joined several other area youth groups (SEEDSEl Pueblo, and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s young farmer’s training program) on a field trip to Greensboro. The students boarded biofuel buses and then headed out to the first stop: a tour at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The museum is located at the old Woolworth’s where the sit-in movement began, so we were able to see things such as the original lunch counters, dishes, and cash registers that were left behind when the department store closed.

Next, the buses headed over to the Beloved Community Center for lunch and fellowship with the community center staff and members of the NAACP. Our last activity was a grassroots history tour of Greensboro provided by the Beloved Community Center staff. Youth were able to see important historical sites such as Dudley High School and the site of the Greensboro Massacre. Visiting historical sites is an important way to remember our history and connect the work we are doing, as well as inspiring ourselves and honoring the sacrifices made by those who came before us.