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05/3/2019 | Organizing for Education Justice

Youth Are Building Power to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline

In March 2019, CPD’s Education Justice Campaigns and Organizing and Capacity Building teams convened three emerging youth organizing groups that are gearing up to dismantle the school-to-prison pipelines in their respective cities. Youth leaders from Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), Milwaukee; the Youth Power Collective (YPC), a campaign of OnePA, Pittsburgh; and from Good Jobs Now (GJN), Detroit all gathered in Milwaukee for three days of training and campaign planning.  

Together, these youth leaders came up with bold visions and plans to achieve them. They want hundreds, even thousands, of their peers to come together to create a more just, safe and inclusive schools. They want cops out of schools. They want their schools and communities to have the support and resources that provide them with the opportunities to grow and the freedom to thrive.

Each of these goals will require young people to build power in their communities. The organizations came together to learn from one another, deepen their youth organizing practice, and to plan for the year ahead. To build fierce and robust youth power, each of the organizations is developing their organizing models, which includes base-building strategies and leadership development practices. The convening was also a time for the organizations to build relationships with each other and learn and work together in pursuit of these goals. Their campaign plans prioritized CPD’s commitment to building a powerful and aligned youth base across the network.

The youth from these organizations were also prominent leaders of the national #YouthDemand  campaign, which set out to challenge the DeVos School Safety Commission, whose recommendations would further entrench the racially discriminatory school-to-prison pipeline. The #YouthDemand campaign collected thousands of signatures and endorsements from almost 50 organizations across the country—all demanding a school safety plan that rejects the further militarization of our schools, divests from police in schools, and removes metal detectors and punitive school discipline practices. Instead, they are for investment in mental health and counselling services and increased teacher salaries, among other things.

Now these youth have turned their attention to movement-building at the most local level, in their schools and communities, to ensure that what the #YouthDemand—the freedom to thrive —becomes a powerful rallying call that begins with targeting and dismantling the systems that criminalize Black and Brown youth in their places of learning. These youth demand big changes, and CPD will be there to support them in realizing their bold vision for the future. Please make a donation to support this critical work today.