NC Coalition for Education was joined by YOI, NC HEAT, Education Justice Alliance, Dignity in Schools Campaign, NC Fair Share, El Pueblo, Inc., Concerned Citizens for African American Children, and Legal Aid-Advocates for Children Services for our press conference and speak out at the school board.
Check out our press release and photos below:
STUDENTS AND PARENTS ORGANIZE WEEK OF ACTION TO END THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON-PIPELINE
The North Carolina Coalition for Educational Justice is participating in Dignity In Schools Campaign’s 6th Annual National Week of Action Against #SchoolPushOut. During the week of action community groups and youth organizations from across the country mobilize to demand an end to the school-to-prison-pipeline and the punitive disciplinary measures that make it possible. This year’s week of action takes place October 3 – October 11.
Local organizers, students, and parents are planning a series of events during the Week of Action to draw attention to the reality of discriminatory disciplinary policies and actions in Wake County Public Schools System (WCPSS).
Data from the 2013-14 school year shows that Black students in WCPSS while only making up 25% of the student population make up 62% of all suspensions. While overall suspension rates have fallen in the past 5 years, racial disparities remain. Additionally, students with disabilities while only making up 13% of the student population, make up 33% of all students suspended. North Carolina as a whole ranks 8th in highest suspension rates in the country as the state spends $8,160 on education per student but $159,750 on incarceration per youth.
Not only are these trends alarming and indicative of a hostile school environment toward students of color and students with disabilities, it is reflective of a larger society that disregards Black lives and others who fall on the margins.
Our schools are more willing to spend money contracting police officers to place in schools grade k-12 than on counselors who offer students an opportunity to plan for the future, work through their problems, and seek support. Our schools are more ready to punish students for not being present in school than pay teachers enough to teach and fund classrooms that have enough textbooks and seats.
Tavon Bridges, youth organizer and recent graduate of Knightdale High School, says he is participating in the Week of Action to “help create a safe space for students to learn. Education is a right no one should have taken away!”
Over the past 3 years, the NCCEJ and other local allies have worked to address the racial disparities in suspensions, the heavy policing of students in their schools, and the need for restorative justice programs available to students.
Our efforts have mobilized and galvanized hundreds of students and parents directly impacted by the school-to-prison-pipeline. We have also had much resistance from key decision makers. There are major public figures, such as Wake County School Board Member Jim Martin, who deny the existence of the school-to-prison-pipeline despite the research available, experiences from young people, and recognition from the federal government. This denial is cause for concern. From school board members that decide on policy affecting students’ lives and well being to school resource officers who have unchallenged power over disciplinary actions, we can no longer deny that the school-to-prison-pipeline exists and all of us have a part in it.
All students deserve a quality education, but over policing and unfair school discipline practices are stripping Black, Latino and disabled students of their rights to a public education. We cannot let another student get pepper strayed, jailed and forgotten. We cannot go another school year with the highest number of long-term suspension in the entire state while those with the power to change conditions in schools remain idle.