Democracy Now! recently looked at the criminalization of Black and brown students that has led to what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. They spoke with a roundtable of community activists — including members of Schott grantee partners Journey for Justice Alliance and the Dignity in Schools Campaign — engaged in the fight to save schools and push for alternatives to punishment and privatization.
Their voices are highlighted in a new book titled “Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out! Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement.” In Chicago, they spoke with Jitu Brown, the national director of the Journey for Justice. In Washington, D.C., they spoke with Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, the co-founder of Racial Justice NOW! and field organizer for the Dignity in Schools Campaign. And in New York City, they spoke with high school teacher and restorative justice coordinator E.M. Eisen-Markowitz and Mark Warren, co-author of “Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!”
Jitu Brown underlined the clear link between school discipline policies, school underfunding, and larger structures of white supremacy in American society today: "I would just say that we don’t have a policy problem in public education. We have a values problem. There’s a belief system, that is rooted in the hatred of Black and brown children, that fuels education policy."
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, who co-founded Racial Justice NOW! in Ohio, told her story of how she moved from a concerned parent of a young public school student into a community organizer. The long, difficult and largely unsung organizing work she and others have committed themselves to for many years has bore fruit. As she told Amy Goodman, "because of the work of working-class poor and working-class Black parents in the city of Dayton, Ohio just recently passed a law, House Bill 318, to ban most out-of-school pre-K-through-third-grade suspensions across the entire state."