2019 Education Justice Victories That Give Us Courage for 2020

Changing policies to achieve greater equity for children of color takes time, months, even years of dynamic mobilizing and building collaboration among parents, students, community members and educators. That’s why Schott builds and sustains long-term partnerships—they’re in it for the long haul and so are we. Grassroots organizing by our grantees and allies was the key to some key policy wins in 2019, all of which provide momentum for the important work ahead.

  1. Grassroots Organizing Won $1.5 Billion for Public Schools in Massachusetts
    This year’s landmark Student Opportunity Act guarantees an additional $1.5 billion in funding for k-12 public schools across the commonwealth. This kind of dramatic shift in funding priorities only comes about when grassroots pressure builds from the bottom-up and makes a change inevitable: when the people lead, politicians must eventually listen. Schott is proud to have supported many of the groups involved in this multi-year effort.
    Learn more about this important victory here.
  2. Major Movement Toward Culturally-Responsive Education (CRE) in NYC
    Building off the momentum of a big win in 2018, the New York City Department of Education announced in September that it would evaluate its core curriculum based in part on whether they include materials that represent students of different backgrounds, including race, class, sexual orientation, and disability status. In addition, advocates won a new fellowship program for 60 NYC teachers to develop new, more culturally-responsive curriculum materials. Schott partner the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) took the lead in a diverse coalition that showed the country how youth, parents, and educators can fight for a public school system that better reflects and responds to their communities.
    Learn more about the CRE victory here, and watch a webinar about culturally-responsive education featuring CEJ's Natasha Capers here.
  3. A Historic Expansion of Title IX Coordinators in NYC
    In June, the New York City Council approved $857,000 to hire seven Title IX coordinators for the city’s public schools, a dramatic increase from the existing one coordinator. Schott partner Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) has long been raising awareness among the public — and pressure on policymakers — about the crisis of gender-based violence, pushout and criminalization among girls of color in New York public schools. This victory belongs to the students and advocates who refused to accept the status quo and put in the painstaking work, research, hearings, rallies, and popular education to force the system to change.
    Learn more about the victory here, and watch a Schott webinar on school climate with GGE and the Advancement Project here
  4. Teachers Continued to Strike and Win Across the Country  
    Educators and allies went on strike across the country in 2019, building on the momentous strikes of 2018. Teachers scored huge victories in Chicago (along with custodial staff), Los Angeles, Oakland, and statewide in Virginia. Other strikes were unsuccessful in winning immediate gains, like those in South Carolina and Tennessee, but may set the stage for future progress. Schott partner the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools has been pulling community groups and teachers together for years, building important movement spaces that are the soil from which strikes and other united actions can sprout. In partnership with Building Movement Project, Schott produced a set of case studies on fostering the kind of community-labor partnerships that we’ve seen in successful teacher strikes over recent years.
    Read the case studies here, and watch a Schott webinar featuring community and labor organizers here.
  5. Civil Rights Protections Were Preserved in the Supreme Court for Trans & Gender Nonconforming Students 
    This year the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that challenged the right of transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) students to access school facilities and bathrooms in a way that aligns with their gender identity. We are fortunate to have partners like GSA Network who are working to ensure that safe and supportive schools for trans and GNC students.
    Learn more about the Supreme Court ruling here.
  6. The Grassroots Has Shifted the Education Debate Toward Justice
    When we ensure grassroots groups have the resources and freedom to be leaders in policy change work, the entire political spectrum can shift. This shift was on full display at last month’s presidential candidates forum, Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Justice for All, the first of its kind to center the priorities and voices of the grassroots education justice movement. The forum’s co-sponsors included partners like Journey for Justice Alliance, Center for Popular Democracy Action, the Alliance for Educational Justice, and the NAACP. We at Schott are proud to have been a leading co-sponsor of an event that gave youth, parents, and educators the opportunity to directly press eight presidential candidates to provide serious solutions on issues ranging from equitable funding to the school-to-prison pipeline.
    Learn more and watch videos from the forum here.
  7. Pushout was a Book. Then a Movie. And Now Legislation.
    Dr. Monique Morris is an author, social justice scholar, and founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI). Best known for her groundbreaking 2016 book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Dr. Morris’ work in exposing injustice and elevating those who are directly affected and organizing to change it has had a wide impact. This past fall, Pushout was released as a documentary film, screened across the country and on PBS. And just last month, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley submitted the Ending PUSHOUT Act, which “acknowledges the harmful ways in which Black and Brown girls are criminalized and overpoliced at school.”
    Learn more here, and watch a Schott webinar featuring Dr. Morris here.
  8. Students Move Millions of Dollars in California
    Showing that implementation is critical to the success of any policy win victory, five years after the historic Student Voice Campaign victory that established the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), Schott partners like Californians for Justice worked this year to provide students a clear role in deciding how millions of new funding should be spent in their school communities. These efforts mean real money is being moved in ways that will increase equity, reduce opportunity gaps, and build youth power. Mandating and holistically integrating community voices in education and funding policy is a positive development we hope becomes a model across the country.
    Learn more about LCFF here, and watch a Schott webinar featuring Californians for Justice Executive Director Taryn Ishida here.

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