1,000 signatures reached
To: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner William Bratton, Chancellor Carmen Farina
TELL DE BLASIO: STOP PUSHING BLACK/LATINO KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
We are a coalition of Black and Latin@ youth leaders from high schools across New York City. For over 10 years, we have been fighting to make schools a place where all students are accepted and supported on their path to graduation. We even worked with our current Mayor, when he was the Public Advocate to bring attention to the impact of racially discriminatory school discipline and policing policies on Black and Latin@ students.
Over the next 30 days, Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering important reforms to school discipline and policing policies and practices.We are fighting for the Mayor to adopt changes that will dismantle the school to prison pipeline.
Please join us by signing the petition that will be delivered to Mayor de Blasio below.
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
Without a quality education, our young people will continue to be denied a chance to succeed. Our current policies and practices are steeped in racism and lead to too many Black and Latin@ students being pushed out of school and into contact with the criminal justice system.
I urge you to:
• End Suspensions for racially discriminatory school discipline policies. Black students are 4 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. Black girls are 10 times more likely than white girls to receive discipline referrals. The racial disparities are a result of systemic implicit and explicit biases in policies and practices.
• End all arrests and summons for non-criminal violations. No student should go to school everyday in search of an education only to be criminalized by "broken windows" policing in their schools.
• Invest $20 million to expand Restorative Justice in public schools. It’s time to invest in the solutions that create positive and healthy school environments for the success of all students.
Why is this important?
Last 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.
Zaire Agostini and Miajia Jawara
Urban Youth Collaborative