Meridian, MS, has been in the news often in the past several months for it's horrendous school-to-prison pipeline. But the sad reality is that the injustices committed there – the heavy and unequal punishments levied for minor offenses, the absurd amount of police involvement in school discipline, the denial of due process rights to students – are happening across the state. A new report from our allies at the Mississippi NAACP, the ACLU, and the Advancement Project reveals that "Mississippi is mired in an extreme school discipline crisis."
A new report from Ohio Communities United (OCU) is a perfect snapshot of what effective parent and community engagement looks like in public education reform. The report, "Speaking Out of School," came about following a series of "listening circles" held in Cleveland, which gathered input from parents and community members about the policies and practices they would like to see implemented in their schools and in which they want to be involved. Highlighted throughout the report are the powerful, personal stories of individual parents as well as features on programs across the country that have successfully engaged parents and community members to create stronger public schools.
This report examines how the "school-to-prison pipeline" metaphor often fails to consider the unique position of Black girls in the push to reform school discipline policies. Monique W. Morris, a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow hosted by African American Policy Form and a former Vice President for the NAACP, writes that by ignoring issues of identity politics and stereotypes facing young Black women, the current debate about school discipline leaves Black girls "in a nebulous space between males and other women, where they are rendered not only invisible but powerless to correct course with opportunities that respond to their triple status as female, as a youth, and as a person of African descent."
In the forward to this new report from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Foundation Center, Shawn Dove, Campaign Manager for OSF's Campaign for Black Male Achievement, writes: "The spirit of Dr. King’s 'fierce urgency of now' declaration prompted the Campaign for Black Male Achievement to commission the Foundation Center to research and assess the current state of philanthropic investments that specifically respond to the crisis facing black men and boys in America. This report describes recent philanthropic investments and innovations in the field of black male achievement."
We've all heard about the long-term benefits on early childhood education and services. Better access to quality early opportunities increases graduation rates, saves communities money on remediation or criminal justice, and increases the tax base. But how about the short-term? Short-term benefits are easier to build public and, crucially, political will around. "Savings Now, Savings Later" is an incredibly useful two-page brief from ReadyNation that outlines all the benefits of early childhood education and services in easy-to-understand, statistics-filled talking points. From parent mentoring programs to basic health care services to quality pre-k programs, the evidence is clear: access to these programs creates healthier and stronger children, families and communities.
Need a blueprint for recruiting, developing and retaining high quality teachers in your state? Look no further than this report from CA State Superintendent Tom Torlakson's Task Force on Educator Excellence. Drawing on the expertise of educators and thought leaders like Linda Darling-Hammond, the report lays out precisely how states should invest in their teachers and their schools to ensure that every student has access to well-prepared and effective teachers.