The OTL Campaign held its second webinar this week, this time exploring how advocates can use data documenting unconscionable disparities in access to educational resources to connect with allies and build a movement for change. It was an exciting and inspiring discussion!
To help us understand just how powerful we can be as advocates and change-makers, we spoke with Hiram Rivera (pictured right), Executive Director of the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), about PSU's successful organizing efforts to reform school discipline policies in Philadelphia. PSU joined with Youth United for Change and other advocacy groups from across the city and nation to document the pushout crisis and the rampant use of out-of-school suspensions in Philadelphia public schools. They cultivated relationships with school officials and wrote their own discipline code focused on keeping students in school rather than pushing them out. Thanks to their passion and determination, the city ultimately adopted the code.
We also heard from Daniel Losen (pictured left), Director of UCLA's Civil Rights Project, whose expansive analysis of federal data on out-of-school suspensions in nearly 7,000 school districts revealed that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately subject to harsher punishments and more likely to be suspended from the classroom. The report, called "Opportunities Suspended," has fueled efforts across the nation to push not just for more equitable discipline policies, but ones that use positive alternatives to suspension to keep students in school. Our Solutions Not Suspensions initiative, which we launched with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, has frequent cited this valuable report in calling for a nationwide moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.
Visit the Solutions Not Suspensions website to learn more.
Below are links to all the resources we discussed during the webinar, as well as a recording of the webinar. Share widely!
- UCLA's Civil Rights Project report, "Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School"
- Dignity in Schools Campaign's Model School Code
- Solutions Not Suspensions website
- News coverage of Philly student organizing victories
- News coverage of Chicago student organizing victories
- News coverage of CO student organizing victories