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12/19/2018 | Organizing for Education Justice

Will You Support Youth of Color? Take Action to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline


That was the response a 5-year-old Black girl gave at a community meeting I attended at a church in New Orleans, more than a year ago. The question: what do you and your friends call school?    

It was a devastating and unforgettable moment that animated the deep and often hidden psychological impact of the school-to-prison pipeline. What does it say about the values of society (and our education system), when such young children think of their schools and education in this way?

Every day, tens of thousands of young people of color go to schools that feel like jails. From in-school police presence to alarmingly high suspension rates, harsh disciplinary policies rooted in racial discrimination disproportionately affect Black and Brown children in our public schools. Indeed, the resulting school-to-prison pipeline is one of the most egregious manifestations of systemic racism in the United States.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) continues to support Black and Brown youth from all across the country who have a clear vision of safe, inclusive, and supportive schools. Young people who are part of the CPD youth network, Youth Everywhere Rising and Resisting (YERR), have joined youth from all over the country calling for an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and police-free schools.

Youth of color reject so-called ‘school safety’ measures that criminalize them and the CPD Network is standing behind them. We are supporting the youth in demanding a focus on learning, guidance and the freedom to thrive.

Thousands of people, including many of you, showed your support for the #YouthDemand message and sent messages to the Federal Commission on School Safety demanding that it listen to this vision. Instead, the Commission has advocated for the rescission of the federal civil rights guidance on school discipline, provided a roadmap for how schools can bring more guns into school by arming personnel, and is entrenching the school-to-prison pipeline by advocating for “hardening” schools with more metal detectors,police, and military personnel.

Will you send a message to Congress that we need them to use all of their powers to end the school-to-prison pipeline now?

Young people from all across the country are saying enough. School safety is about their lives; about their daily experiences. They are calling for divestment from school policing, increased funding for more guidance counselors, mental health support and restorative justice, as well as increased pay for their teachers, among other things. They have a clear vision for their schools and they are demanding that their voices be heard.

This fight is far from over. We need your support now to continue elevating the voices and experiences of youth of color in their fight to end the school-to-prison pipeline.Your generosity allows us to work with young people and support them in realizing their vision of safe, inclusive, and supportive schools in our communities and beyond. I urge you to please make a donation to ensure that youth of color are central to the conversation about school safety.

The future of our democracy will be driven by these young visionaries. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year to join young people in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

In solidarity,
Dmitri Holtzman
Director of Education Justice Campaigns, CPD