Grassroots organizers in New York City have been fighting for school discipline reform for years, and their hard work paid off this week when the City Council passed next year's budget with $2.4 million in funding for restorative justice programs. As advocates nationwide continue to push for an end to harsh, discriminatory discipline policies, the NYC budget stands as a huge endorsement for restorative justice in the nation's largest school district. Congrats to everyone who worked to make this happen!
Read the below statement from our allies in the Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York:
"The Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York (DSC-NY) applauds New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council for keeping their commitment to progressive school discipline reform by ensuring the inclusion of $2.4M in the FY2016 City Budget for the implementation of restorative justice practices in schools.
Across the country, restorative justice practices have provided an important, safe, equitable, and much needed alternative to punitive school discipline policies. Research continues to demonstrate that restorative justice approaches to student behavior can result in reduced rates of suspensions, expulsions and incidents of harm, while simultaneously increasing academic achievement and rooting out racial inequities.
Whole-school restorative justice approaches, like the ones funded through the Speaker’s Initiative, have the capacity to gradually transform the culture of discipline in NYC schools from one of punishment and exclusion to one focused on meeting youth needs. The Council’s leadership provides a promising step toward the long-term institutionalization of restorative approaches in schools City-wide.
DSC-NY looks forward to continuing work with the Council, Mayor and Department of Education to realize the great potential of this pivotal investment.
“Thank you to the City Council for providing funding for Restorative Justice in Schools. High School is a place where young people should learn and grow from their experiences. Too often, it’s a place where we feel like we are being pushed out through harsh punitive methods. With leadership from the City Council, that is changing and we are going in the right direction.” - Jahnay Tucker, Student, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice and Urban Youth Collaborative.
“Under Speaker Mark-Viverito’s leadership the City Council is working to dismantle New York City’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline by investing in restorative justice programs that make schools more caring, inclusive and safe places for NYC students. As students of color city-wide continue to be disproportionately impacted by an overreliance on suspensions, The Children’s Defense Fund – NY celebrates this timely investment.” – Dacia Read, Sr. Public Policy Associate, CDF-NY.
Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York calls for citywide funding and implementation of positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve school climate, reduce conflict, and increase learning. Members include: Advocates for Children of New York, Brooklyn Movement Center, Center for Community Alternatives, Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Family Resource Center, Future of Tomorrow, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), Make the Road New York, Mass Transit Street Theater, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, Sistas and Brothas United, Teachers Unite, The Sikh Coalition, Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), Ugnayan, The YAYA Network, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, and Youth Represent."