Phil Agnew, Executive Director of the Dream Defenders, delivers the first State of the Youth Address, outlining the social justice priorities of millions of young voters and organizers.
As schools have started to abandon ineffective, zero-tolerance discipline policies, students and teachers are showing how alternatives like restorative justice can foster strong, supportive school communities. This video from Oakland, CA, features one such alternative, a student-led circle, in action. This is what school discipline reform can–and should–look like.
Stephanie Alvarado, a youth leader with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and the Southwest Organizing Project, is one of six Latino/a students featured in a new PBS documentary about the dropout crisis and its effect on low-income students of color.
Students from the Morris Campus Student Leadership Council (at Bronx International High School in NYC) came together to write and create this video to promote peer mediation at their school. The song is called "Talk It Out," and the video was featured during the Youth Speak Out session at the recent AFT Civil, Human and Women's Rights Conference in Los Angeles.
At the 2013 OTL Organizing Summit in Los Angeles, Cheyanne Smith from Make the Road NY and Pecolia Manigo from the Parent Leadership Action Network practice telling their personal stories as part of a training with the New Organizing Institute on the Story of Self, Story of Us, and the Story of Now narrative structure.
In October, the OTL Campaign partnered with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association and Communities for Public Education Reform to host the AFT's Civil, Human and Women's Rights Conference in Los Angeles. At the opening town hall on Oct. 4th, participants got fired up with this video chronicling the rising grassroots and labor movement to protect and support public education.
"Community schools" are a new model for public education focused on building community partnerships to ensure all students have access to the types of wraparound academic, social and health supports they need to succeed in school. This short animated video shows how Oakland Unified School District is transforming its schools to be community hubs offering integrated student supports. Check it out!
Ensuring that students are reading at grade level by the third grade is a crucial milestone for assuring their long term academic success, because third grade is when most students transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." AR Governor Mike Beebe declared Aug. 12-16 Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Week, and the campaign is highlighting community solutions and programs that help young students, families and communities emphasize reading.
Padres y Jovenes Unidos, a Denver-based OTL ally, successfully pushed for legislation limiting the role of police in schools. The group was featured in a video series by the Public Interest Projects' Just and Fair Schools Fund, which profiles groups across the country who are making real headway in the fight to end harsh discipline policies and the school-to-prison pipeline.
Growing Fairness is an upcoming documentary film, workshop series, and online toolkit resource for school communities to use as they begin the project of implementing restorative justice in classrooms. It tells the story of school climate, alternatives to punitive discipline, and the real impact of zero-tolerance on young people and school communities in New York and Oakland. The film and resources were created by Teachers Unite, one of the original members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, and will be available in full starting September 2013.