- Afropunk Army
- Community Control
- Confederate Symbols
- Cop Watch
- Corporate Accountability
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
- For-Profit Colleges/Universities
- Gulf Coast
- Housing Rights
- Media Accountability
- Music Industry
- Open Internet
- Police Accountability
- Political Power
- Pop Culture
- Private Prisons
- Right Wing Racism
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Voting Rights
- Wrongful Imprisonment
Tell the Louisiana House Education Committee to Support House Bill 372State laws substantially contribute to the overuse of school suspensions and expulsions in Louisiana, where students can be dismissed for a wide range of minor misbehavior and Black students are far more likely to be penalized. In the 2013-2014 school year, 61,201 students, including students in grades pre-kindergarten through 5, were suspended out-of-school. Under current state laws, minor infractions have resulted in children losing a tremendous amount of instructional time and falling behind in their academic progress. School policies on “willful disobedience” are vaguely defined, arbitrarily enforced as a ground for suspension, and disparately used. Black students are suspended at disproportionally higher rate than their white counterparts. Data shows that “willful disobedience” has been used as the reason for 13,535 suspensions in the 2013-2014 school year that includes 8,000 suspensions of children in grades pre-kindergarten to 5. HB 372 solves the problems of excessive, racially disparate, and arbitrary use of student suspension. While disruptive behavior should be addressed, we need to ensure repercussions are the most beneficial and effective for our children. Alternatives, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, are not only more effective discipline methods, but they also result in higher attendance rates, improved student behavior, higher academic performance, and more positive overall school climate.
STOP UCSF FROM CLOSING NEW GENERATION CLINICWe are asking that members of the San Francisco community and people nationwide to stand with us to save the last full-service reproductive health clinic serving poor Black and Latino youth in San Francisco. After 45 years of serving vulnerable youth, on March 1 the University of California San Francisco gave swift & abrupt notice to staff at New Generation Health Clinic that its doors will close in 30 days due to budget cuts. There was no plan to replace the New Generation clinic; instead the “solution” was to redirect the patients to existing hospitals and clinics. The thousands of young people who rely on the clinic's services were not consulted about this plan. Thanks to efforts lead by 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic, concerned educators and parents, and most importantly, directly impacted young people from the city-- as of March 17th, USCF announced that they would delay the closure of the clinic to July 31st. After the 31st, they plan to work with the Department of Public Health to "ensure continuity of care for patients." They refuse to commit to keeping New Generation open, citing its " lack of financial sustainability." Meanwhile, UCSF has publicly announced plans to spend $600 million on building brand new facilities alone in the next 3 years, this plan included the new $240 million complex in Mission Bay-- the neighborhood where New Generation Health Clinic is located. Clearly, a lack of funds is not the issue here. The University of California San Francisco constantly emphasizes their commitment to addressing health disparities and making equity a priority. Now is their chance to stand by their word. New Generation is a safe haven in a city where navigating and accessing the health care system is nearly impossible. For young people who are victims of rape and unwanted pregnancy- San Francisco General Hospital is just not an option. Survivors of rape need a place where they feel safe and where youth are welcomed, not criminalized. If UCSF succeeds in their plans to close New Generation, there will be a much higher price to pay. The message the city of San Francisco and the University of California San Francisco are sending is blatant: money matters, not Black and Brown lives. Please sign and share the petition to help us keep New Generation Health Clinic open. For too many, this is a matter of life or death.
URGE THE FCC TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE!Lifeline is a federal program that has connected millions of qualifying low-income households to telephones for more than 30 years. It was established in 1985 to ensure that every resident in the country could access a telephone in the home. At the time, telephones were viewed as an essential utility, like electricity or water. Lifeline, through a modest subsidy, ensures that every family who can’t afford a telephone connection, can do so through this program. In 2005, the program was updated to include cell phone services. Now, with more and more people relying on the Internet to meet many of their personal needs, Lifeline must be expanded to include broadband access. Low-income communities deserve an Internet that is affordable, reliable, and accessible and supports their ability to participate in society. In a society where it has become a requirement that job applicants, employees, students, patients, bank customers, and consumers use the Internet for basic services, broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity. That's why we're calling on the FCC to treat it as such and ensure that low-income families have access to this vital service through updated Lifeline rules. As a Lifeline subscriber, I know how important this program is to helping connect people to the tools they need to communicate. I live in New Orleans, LA and have a son who is incarcerated in Texas a 10 hours drive away from me. The only way I can communicate with him is through a landline telephone in my home. He can't call my cell phone because the prison telephone operator won't allow it. With my other expenses, affording an additional telephone was going to be a challenge but then I heard about the Lifeline program. Lifeline helps low-income families by subsidizing a portion of their telephone or cell phone bill. It helped me be able to afford a landline in my home. The Lifeline program is now being expanded to help families connect to the Internet. For me this is important because I use the Internet everyday for school. I'm currently taking online courses and pursuing a degree in criminal justice. The Internet is also a place where I find resources to send to my son. As a mother and a student, the Internet is so important but it is also expensive. I know the Lifeline program can help people like me who need the extra help to get ahead. Please consider supporting this petition because the Federal Communications Commission will soon vote on whether to reform the Lifeline program.
Stand with Ravi Perry and Luke Harris Against Racial Censorship in Henrico CountyDid you know that school boards across the country have already banned some of the only books cataloguing the experiences of people of color? And it's not just literature that's being suppressed and erased; the African American Policy Forum's “Unequal Opportunity Race” video is the latest educational media suppressed by conservative school boards. As part of Black History Month, the Unequal Opportunity Race, a short animated video produced by AAPF, was shown to students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, Virginia. The clip was included as part of a program to facilitate a conversation on structural racism. Despite accurately illustrating historical events and contemporary racial inequities, conservative activists and right-wing outlets, like Fox News, labeled the educational tool as a "white guilt video.” The Board of Education fueled the conservative outrage when it called the video “racially divisive.” Micky Ogburn, the School Board’s Chair, went as far as to apologize to parents and community members who believed the video was "reverse racism.” Let us be clear: labelling multiracial visions of American society as “divisive” is nothing new. The Civil Rights Movement was called divisive. Martin Luther King, Jr. was called divisive. Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation case, was labelled as divisive. What is truly divisive is a ban that discourages conversations around structural racism, furthering the dangerous myth that Black people’s suffering can be blamed on individual or cultural shortcoming rather than systemic flaws! What is truly divisive is the miseducation of millions of children, leaving them ill-equipped to understand the complexity of race and racism. Join us supporting parents, students and community leaders in urging the Henrico County School Board to lift the ban on the Unequal Opportunity Race! We further call for transparency from the School Board on their decision-making process used to ban the video, and unbiased coverage from the local press on the ongoing dispute. Learning about the systemic roots of modern-day racial inequality is critical for not only Black students, but for everyone. Censorship of this material in response to conservative agitation is a direct expression of racial repression being translated into official policy. We cannot stand by as our stories are labeled as irrelevant to our country’s social reality, while anything that lifts up the struggles of people of color are deemed racist!
#StandUp4Kids NOT Billionaires23 years ago a group of determined parents filed a law suit called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity against New York state to prove that the state was discriminating against districts with mostly Black, Latino or impoverished students by not properly funding their education.10 years ago I stood on the steps of the New York State Court of Appeals with my then 10 year old and 12 year old daughters, Rayya and Zaire, awaiting the hearing that would determine CFE and the fair funding of our New York City Schools. I was so elated when the decision was made that our schools did deserve more, because it meant opportunities and dreams would no longer be denied not only for my children but all other Black and Latino students and students living in poverty. Yet here I am, 10 years later still fighting the same fight. Throughout this 10-year fight, I’ve been up in arms with fellow parents, organizers, and teachers alike. All of which, have witnessed the disparity in opportunity afforded to students because of their skin color or zip code. Education should be about accessing knowledge to expand your world but a consistent disinvestment in public school dollars on top of educational cuts limits this and unfairly stints school potential through a lack of resources. These resources could provide programs that have been proven to enhance a child’s learning environment like advanced classes, technology, longer school days, after school programs, teacher supports, and the list goes on. That’s why right now we’re challenging our legislators to #StandUp4Kids Billionaires and hedge fund managers in New York drive the overwhelming income inequity that creates a gap in educational funding. When the 1% is paying less in taxes than our school secretaries, sanitation workers, nurses and truck drivers we must stand up and say change needs to happen, NOW! With just 1% more in taxes from the 1% (those making $665,000 and over) New York State could raise over $2 billion in funding for education. But when Governor Cuomo says there is “no appetite” for raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires—what I hear is that addressing a 50% child poverty rate is not a priority for New York State. And Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is opposing it because his Republican colleagues depend on hedge funds and billionaires to finance their re-election campaigns. We must put our children before hedge funds and political interests. The future depends on it. Sign our petition to demand Governor Cuomo, Senator Flanagan and the legislators of NY to #StandUp4Kids, NOT billionaires! While my 8 children may never get the opportunity to reap the benefits of CFE my 3 grandchildren can. It’s time for legislators to make the right choice. Together, we can protect the promise of a quality education for generations to come.
TELL DE BLASIO: STOP PUSHING BLACK/LATINO KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMLast fall, the whole country saw how violent and traumatic the "broken windows" approach to school discipline is when we watched a white police officer brutally attack a young black girl sitting quietly in her classroom. Shakara, the young girl that was attacked, and Niya, the young girl that stood up for her, are still facing criminal charges for "disturbing school." New York City is still using a"broken windows" approach to school discipline that criminalizes us for similar reasons. In New York, every day students receive a criminal summons for "disorderly conduct," which could be everything from refusing an order to leave a classroom to being excessively loud. Our school system must end these policies and practices that refuse to value Black Lives. As young Black women attending public high schools in Brooklyn and Harlem every day we wake up and go to school we feel the impact of the policies and practices that continue to maintain the school-to-prison pipeline. Black students make up only 26% of students, but we account for 53% of all suspensions. Black girls are disciplined at a rate 10 times that of white girls. And Black and Latina/o students account for 67% of all students but at 94% we account for almost all students that are being arrested. Black and Latina/o students do not behave any differently than white students,- but we are more likely to get pushed out of school for minor infractions. Last year, I (Miaija) got into a schoolyard fight. It was the kind of schoolyard fight that happens between young people all over, but instead of sitting down with adults and working through the conflict, I received a criminal summons for disorderly conduct. I was forced to miss school and go to Manhattan Criminal Court to resolve the charge. Students that miss school to attend court are twice as likely to drop out, and if I missed court, or failed to pay a fine, I would have a criminal warrant for arrest out in my name. The disorderly conduct charges against me were dropped, but I was still forced to navigate the criminal justice system when I should have been worried about finals. There are thousands of students that receive criminal summons in our schools and every day and for many of them it leads to them dropping out of school. There are over 90,000 students in New York City that pass through metal detectors everyday, almost all of them Black and Latina/o. Our schools do not have to feel like prisons. New York City spends almost $400,000,000 annually on School Safety for police officers, metal detectors, surveillance equipment and suspension trials. The city’s investment in Restorative Justice in schools is less than $1,000,000. You don’t build safe and supportive schools by suspending and criminalizing students. You build safe and supportive schools by investing in Restorative Justice to develop strong relationships between students, educators, and parents and by adopting policies that create a fair and just approach to discipline. Our city must stop investing in the school-to-prison pipeline and start investing in our future. If all Black Lives Matter it is time for our schools to treat us all with dignity and respect. Thank You, Zaire Agostini and Miajia Jawara Urban Youth Collaborative
Divest from Wells Fargo! University of California (UC) Prison Divestment!We, the undersigned community members and justice seekers, are excited by the Afrikan Black Coalition's recent victory in getting the University of California to divest $25 million from the private prison corporations Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), The Geo Group, and G4S. The victory was historic because private prisons have exacerbated America's mass incarceration regime, are implicated in gross human rights violations, and should be outlawed. However, we share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons. According a report from Enlace, Wells Fargo facilitates access to over $1.2 billion capital for private prisons. As of their latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wells Fargo owned nearly 1.5 million shares in private prisons. It bears noting that Wells Fargo is a bank that practiced discriminatory lending and maneuvered people of color (primarily Black and Latino) into subprime mortgages that led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008; and in response to accusations of racial discrimination in its lending practices, Wells Fargo settled for $175 million in 2012 with pending litigations from several U.S cities (Los Angeles and Oakland) about discriminatory practices. It is for these reasons that we stand in solidarity with the Afrikan Black Coalition in its call for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized by an unforgiving and unfair judicial system that continues to criminalize Black and brown bodies. We acknowledge these cases illustrate the evolution of America's legal institution to uphold race, gender, and class hierarchies. By investing in Wells Fargo Bank, the University of California is actively supporting a legacy of historical emphasis on profit margins at the expense of human beings, and the continued mass criminalization of Black existence. It is an ethical embarrassment and a clear disregard for Black and immigrant lives for the UC to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Wells Fargo as a financier of private prisons. In the age of Black Lives Matter and a reinvigorated Black Freedom Struggle, the UC should NOT be bankrolling the inhuman mass incarceration regime that has gripped America.
End School-Sanctioned Violence Against Children, Parents and CommunitiesWe wish this story was an isolated incident, but it is not. It’s one of many other stories of children who find themselves the victim of the school to prison pipeline. A system that will arrest children because they had a bad day. Children who may or may not have a disability. Children who may have lost a family member, a friend, or someone in the community. Children who may have recently become homeless, or had a parent or sibling incarcerated. Poor black and brown children are the ones who most frequently are targeted by this pipeline, thanks to the racism and classism that is a widespread part of our society. Nationwide African-American children represent 26% of juvenile arrests and 44% of youth who are detained. Taxpayers spend an estimated $70 billion on corrections and incarceration, yet over half of the children who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. This call to action demands that: Our schools treat every child, every family, and every community with dignity and respect. Our children should not be arrested or made to leave school for things that all children go through. Our teachers and paraprofessionals who educate our most vulnerable populations should not be given the lowest pay and inadequate training. The average paraprofessional salary in Louisiana was $19,970 per year in May 2014, which ranked 46th of the 50 states. By comparison, in 2012, at least 45 New Orleans charter school executives made more than $100,000 a year. Our parents should not be subjected to economic abuse and hardship, from charging $60-$80 for school uniforms, to causing parents to lose their jobs, their incomes, and their livelihoods when they are frequently called to school for minor misbehaviors.
TELL THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO STOP FUNDING THE KINDERGARTEN TO PRISON PIPELINEWe have a crisis across the country with school arrests and suspensions. We all were horrified to see a South Carolina police officer assault and handcuff a 16 year black student in her classroom. But the school-to-prison pipeline starts the disparate treatment of our youngest black students in school. Black children make up 18% of preschoolers, but 48% of pre-school suspensions. Overall black students are 4 times more likely than their white peers to be suspended. Latino, LGBT and special needs students are also more likely to be suspended. The data is clear suspensions lead to dropouts, which often lead to prison. My 10-year-old son Jamir has faced multiple school suspensions when he was a student at Success Academy charter schools in New York City. He was routinely asked to be picked up or was suspended for minor infractions like being too emotional or not going up the school stairs in a timely manner. My son has special needs and he can act out when not provided the proper supports, but Success Academy did nothing to help him. I finally had to withdraw my son. Jamir and I are not alone. On October 29th, the New York Times reported on a Success Academy “Got to Go” list of students the school wanted to get rid of. These students faced numerous suspensions as early as kindergarten and most of the parents withdrew their children as a result. Moskowitz has boasted on national TV and in a prominent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about her harsh discipline policies including her suspension of kindergarteners. Last year one of her schools issued 44 out-of-school suspensions to just 203 kindergarteners and first graders. But because Moskowitz has the backing of hedge fund billionaires who use their political muscle to buy influence for her and other zero tolerance charter schools in Washington, D.C., nothing is being done about it. In fact Eva Moskowitz has used her political connections to rake in over $37 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education. She was just awarded $13.4 million of $335 million that the Department awarded to charter schools across the country. If the U.S. Department of Education is going continue to fund Eva Moskowitz’s zero tolerance charter schools in New York, then they will turn a blind eye to zero tolerance charter schools across the country. We cannot allow the U.S. government to fund a kindergarten to prison pipeline. That is why I joined with the Alliance for Quality Education and the Urban Youth Collaborative to ask you to send this petition to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling on him to stop funding the Kindergarten to prison pipeline. Fatima Geidi
SUPPORT BLACK YOUTH: LOCKED OUT OF KATRINA RECOVERY/PUSHED OUT OF SCHOOL!Why is this important? If we believe children are our future, ALL children, then it is our duty to ensure that each and every one, even those with challenging behaviors are given every opportunity to grow and thrive. In the predominately black, still storm ravaged Eastern New Orleans, Collegiate Academies operates 3 schools. Each school has chosen to suspend children at rates over 40, 50 and 60% or more each year, when other alternatives are available. Children can’t learn if they are not in school. Schools do a great job of having zero tolerance and accountability for our children and we want more accountability from our schools. High suspension rates do not reflect the use of positive reinforcement methods, rather oppressive discipline. Collegiate Academies does a great job at showcasing its successes in annual reports, however, there is no mention of suspension rates, infractions youth are suspended for, the number of teachers who receive professional development training for restorative practices, conflict resolution or positive behavior supports as per ACT 136 of 2010 or your attrition rates. Recognizing that African-American students in Louisiana public schools are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates, according to a report from the Education Department, families want to be assured that Collegiate Academies is following best practice in order to educate our children and not pushing out children who need the most support. If the Louisiana Department of Education’s goal is to provide learning environments and experiences, at all stages of human development, that are humane, just, and designed to promote excellence in order that every individual may be afforded an equal opportunity to develop to his full potential as per our Preamble, Article 8, Louisiana State Constitution, in New Orleans we are failing our children. For the 2013 school year, 46,625 out-of-school suspensions were doled out, which was more than the total number of children enrolled in New Orleans public schools that year. Recovery from harsh discipline polices for some children and families leaves them feeling as though they are still in the midst of a storm. Collegiate Academies promotes itself as a national model stating – “we seek perfection in everything we do”. Children are not perfect and neither is a model that suspends, at times, more than half of their students. The same year Collegiate Academies was suspending more than ½ of their school population; Pope Francis knelt before 12 children and washed their feet, choosing to perform the Holy Thursday ritual at a juvenile detention facility in Rome. One of the most important men in the world showed his willingness to serve troubled children, to exhibit the values of compassion and forgiveness that we hold dear in our society. He didn’t just preach to the children and give them guidance about how they can live better lives. He didn’t suspend them or push them away; he knelt down and washed their feet. He cared and took action. Please join with FFLIC today in taking action for ALL children, sign this petition and demand that Collegiate Academies cease suspending children and ensure teachers are properly trained.
Replace Robert E. Lee High School's Name to Honor Real HerosWe should not have to attend schools or walk streets named after traitors who fought to keep others in bondage or profiteers who grew their wealth and power on the backs of those they saw as less than human. They are not heroes! Naming institutions and streets after Confederate Generals and slave peddlers contributes to the myth of the noble Confederacy and the romanticizing of slavery as being "not that bad." This works to harm Black Americans by creating a false perception of just how far anti-Black racism reaches from past actions to present policies. It stands in the way of having honest dialogue about what system level changes need to happen to truly give America the courage to battle entrenched racism and truly become exceptional. It's bad enough that many black youth attend this school and are faced with the reminder of the dark times when they were considered property. This must end. It is time that we honor the lives and deaths of those who came before us in the fight for the humanity of Black people. #HonorThem
Remove the confedrate monument in Birmingham,Al at Linn ParkWe should not have to attend schools or walk streets named after traitors who fought to keep others in bondage or profiteers who grew their wealth and power on the backs of those they saw as less than human. They are not heroes! Naming institutions and streets after Confederate Generals and slave peddlers contributes to the myth of the noble Confederacy and the romanticizing of slavery as being "not that bad." This works to harm Black Americans by creating a false perception of just how far anti-Black racism reaches from past actions to present policies. It stands in the way of having honest dialogue about what system level changes need to happen to truly give America the courage to battle entrenched racism and truly become exceptional. This must end. It is time that we honor the lives and deaths of those who came before us in the fight for the humanity of Black people. #HonorThem