UCLA Center for Health Policy Research – Suspension rates linked to student connection and engagement at school

…A positive school climate is associated with both adolescent well-being and higher academic achievement. Feelings of school connectedness, civic engagement, and school discipline practices can all contribute to a positive school climate. This policy brief examines the association of school discipline practices with feelings of school connectedness and civic engagement…

Click here to read and download the policy brief

BuzzFeedNews – Opinion: I Was In Juvenile Hall. Here’s Why It Should Be Abolished.

…Research has shown that incarcerating young people doesn’t work — in fact, time in “juvie” is the single largest predictor of future incarceration…

Click here to read op-ed

Check out #SchoolsNotPrisons Facebook page!

City Heights Speaks/KPBS – Brotherhood’ At Hoover High Helps African American Male Students Succeed

photo courtesy of City Heights Speaks and Priya Sridhar

 

…Every Wednesday around two dozen students meet during lunchtime and hear from a local African American leader in the community. At a recent meeting, James Williams, a Navy veteran, joined the group to talk about his life and joining the military. Williams says he spent years of his childhood homeless, dropped out of school and joined a gang…

Click here to read article

The Californian – Salinas City Elementary is third district to reject school resource officers, why?

…Many in the audience Monday were from Building Healthy Communities East Salinas and MILPA, community groups long opposed to the proposal at Salinas schools. The organizing groups had cited the impacts on the school-to-prison pipeline, a lack of research into impact, and transparency with parents about the agreement…

Click here to read article

 

Capitol Public Radio – Is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Juvenile Justice Reform Substantial Or Symbolic? Experts Say It’s a Wait-And-See.

…Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to make big changes to California’s juvenile justice system, but some advocates are skeptical. The governor announced this week that he wants to “end juvenile imprisonment in California as we know it” by moving the Division of Juvenile Justice out of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and into the California Health and Human Services Agency…

Click here to read or listen

The Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution emerged from a successful delegation meeting of youth leaders from organizations affiliated with Youth Organize! California network with State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s office, organized by the Advancement Project and Movement Strategy Center in May 2017. Since May 2017, an ad hoc committee of youth organizations including Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, Californians for Justice, RYSE Center, Khmer Girls in Action, Del Norte and Tribal Lands Building Healthy Communities, Resilience Orange County, Dolores Huerta Foundation, and InnerCity Struggle have worked with the Advancement Project and Movement Strategy Center to draft a model resolution on Welcoming and Safe Schools for All. The resolution provides a holistic model that school districts and other local education agencies can use to develop their own resolutions and policies.

Click here to read the Model Resolution in English

Click here to read the Model Resolution Overview in Spanish

Click here to read the Model Resolution Overview in English

Sacramento (September 30, 2018) – Daniel Zingale, Senior Vice President for Healthy California at The California Endowment, released the following statement regarding the veto of SB607. The bill would have expanded the permanent ban on “willful defiance” suspensions from grades K-3 to grades K-5. It also would have imposed a temporary ban on willful defiance suspensions for grades 6-8.

Willful defiance is a subjective, catchall category used to justify removing students from school for minor behavioral infractions, such as talking back. Black and Brown students are suspended far more frequently for willful defiance than are White students, contributing to long term disparities in education, health and employment.

“I am disappointed that Governor Brown did not follow the lead of California’s legislative leaders and is continuing to allow suspensions for willful defiance in grades 4-8.

“California has made progress in reducing school suspensions, but far more is needed. When a student acts out, it is a cry for help, not a cause for exclusion. California data show that missed school days due to suspension soar in the middle school years along with racial and ethnic disparities. Subjective disruption and defiance suspensions are a large part of the reason why.

“California must act boldly to create healthy, caring communities on school campuses and to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that contributes to the mass incarceration of our young people. In place of prison, we must give all young people — whether White, Black or Brown — the education they deserve on campuses that will nurture their success. California’s next governor must work to keep all of our young people in school – where they belong.”

About The California Endowment                                                 

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. Through its ‘Health Happens Here’ campaign and ten-year initiative for Building Healthy Communities, The Endowment is creating places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org.

 

 

 

We commend Gov. Jerry Brown for signing into law SB 1391, which will end the transfer of 14- and 15-year-olds into adult criminal court, and SB 439 to end the prosecution of children younger than 12. With his signature the governor is acknowledging that prison is no place for young people, and that the harsh conditions of prisons are not the best way to respond to the mistakes that children make, nor provide the support services they need.

Black and Latinx young people make up 80% of incarcerated youth in California, and across the country, these children are more likely to be sentenced to adult court.   A majority of youth in prison have histories with the child welfare system related to abuse, neglect and other forms of trauma.  Many of them have grown up in neighborhoods where the education and health systems have failed to provide them with the support they deserve.   Incarceration isn’t going to heal these children or help their families.  We need a different approach, one rooted in community and centered on health, education and respect for our young people.

We have the tools and the research to pursue a different and a more effective path toward repairing harm and encouraging healing. Restorative justice is an example of an alternative to incarceration that provides a way for young people to make it right with those they have harmed and truly learn from their mistakes.

There is growing momentum to end youth incarceration, close youth prisons and invest in community-models that meet the needs of young people and their families.   We appreciate Gov. Brown’s leadership in taking another important step forward in doing the right thing for our young people.

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My name is Gloria Gonzalez and I’m a youth organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition. The topic of random metal detector searches is extremely important to me as someone who has been searched and understands the impacts of being “randomly” searched from middle school through high school. Recently, support for ending this harmful policy came from somewhere unexpected.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on School Safety released its recommendations for how we can make schools safer. One of the panel’s recommendations is to end random searches in our schools while LAUSD undertakes an audit of the policy. I’m glad the panel listened to the many people who testified at hearings about how the policy disproportionality affects students of color and doesn’t make schools any safer. At one hearing, an eighth grader spoke about how random searches made her feel criminalized, and that all the time that is invested into random searches can go into more investment in the curriculum.

The two Blue Ribbon Panel hearings I attended this spring focused on bullying, counselors, school police, restorative justice, and mental health issues in schools. I learned from these discussions that there aren’t a great deal of resources for LAUSD students, and many of the programs discussed don’t have evidence or statistics about their programs empowering students or working successfully in schools. This is concerning because LAUSD public schools lack help for their students. Help that could save lives.

The Blue Ribbon Panel recognized the need for more support for young people and recommended LAUSD increase the number of school counselors, ensure every student on campus has a meaningful connection with an adult, and reinstate peer counseling programs.

According to the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report, LAUSD has one staffer providing services related to mental health for every 500 students. The American School Counselor Association recommends one counselor for every 250 students. One panelist asked during a hearing, “What will fill the gap without the social worker or psychiatric person?”

The need for mentors, counselors, and peacebuilders is urgent. A peacebuilder is someone who was raised in the community where the school is located, teaches students how to handle the school atmosphere and home atmosphere, and builds a sustainable relationship with the student. They aren’t law enforcement. They are community members.

Gardena Hearing

At the School Safety hearing in Gardena, Dr. Judy Chiasson spoke about the anti-bullying program in LAUSD schools. She expressed her concerns about there not being data about the program’s effectiveness. “There is a gap in tracking students,” Dr. Chiasson said. “I’m not sure if they can screen every child, but we will look into linking children into services.”

As the discussion was wrapping up, I felt that what was missing was consideration of student voices and how they feel, what they benefited or gained from these programs, do they feel comfortable, and services they would like to be provided. Also, I want us to remember that these aren’t just statistics, and that the thousands of students in LAUSD schools, kindergarten through high school, aren’t just numbers. They are HUMAN LIVES!

There was an interesting comment made from one of the panelists stating, “Children of color are being suspended at a higher rate, are there any plans to assess children who have been suspended? These children have been through the most violence and trauma.” As a Latina woman of color that comes from South Central Los Angeles, I am all too familiar with trauma and violence.

The conversation on Restorative Justice (RJ) did bring up concerns. One contradictory part of RJ in schools is that school police can still get involved in the process and the student can still be detained. Chief of Los Angeles School Police Department Steven Zipperman made comments about the importance of school police in schools. This really makes RJ tricky because a circle is sacred, and students should be able to follow a process that doesn’t involve law enforcement, so that students can speak confidentially about the reasons that caused the incident. Another concern is that there sometimes isn’t enough time dedicated to the circle process to allow for both sides to heal and restore or transform the situations.

Final Session

During the final Blue Ribbon Panel hearing, the discussions moved towards finding solutions and recommendations that actually support students’ needs.

During the hearing, Chief Zipperman noted that, “81 Gang Unit Detectives currently patrol schools.”

Close your eyes and for ten seconds visualize 81 gang unit law enforcement officers patrolling schools K-12. We have enough money for surveillance, but we can’t invest into healing counselors and college counselors to solve our students’ root issues. Again, imagine 81 gang unit officers that are criminalizing our babies with their assumptions and perspectives.

I hope LAUSD listens to this Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations to end random searches, improve school climate, and increase the number of school counselors. We need tangible solutions to create real safety for students, not imprisonment or over surveilled schools. LAUSD must listen to the voices of the youth that are in these schools and communities, day in and day out.

 

In Solidarity,

The California Endowment is speaking out strongly in defense of national efforts to reduce racial disparities in school suspensions and promote equity in education.

According to many media reports, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering revoking landmark guidance on school discipline issued jointly in 2014 by the Departments of Education and Justice.

When then-Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder released the 2014 guidance, they explained that its goal was to “improve safety by making sure that climates are welcoming and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory and effective.”  It included a package of resources that highlighted proven alternatives to school suspension, emphasizing prevention and positive behavioral skill-building.

The 2014 guidance also shared research proving what reform advocates had long known: that students of color and students with disabilities are more likely to be suspended than White and non-disabled students—and these trends are not the result of behavioral or socio-economic factors. It further explained that inequitable school discipline policies may violate federal law, even when disparities are caused by unconscious bias.

In a letter to Secretary DeVos, The California Endowment’s President and CEO, Dr. Robert K. Ross, warned that repealing the guidance would be a “huge step backward.” He argued that California’s experience not only shows that reducing suspensions is possible, but also goes hand-in-hand with increasing student achievement and raising graduation rates.

Dr. Ross also shared results from surveys of students, parents, and school staff reporting that people feel safer on campus when suspensions are not the primary tool used to address student behavior. It’s all about creating calm school environments, where everyone feels welcomed and supported.

During the past five years, California has reduced suspension rates by nearly half and cut disparities at the same time. But we still have far to go. Students of color and students with disabilities are still more likely to suspended than other students. And, although California recently extended its ban on “willful defiance” suspensions for K-3 students, many districts continue to use this vague catch-all category to exclude older students from school, even for minor infractions like talking back.

No matter what Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration decide, The California Endowment, our partners throughout the state, and like-minded organizations across the United States will continue to fight for fair and effective school discipline policies. Continued progress is essential for the health and well-being of our young people.

But it sure would be easier if the Department of Education was working with us, instead of ignoring data, research, and the voices of students and parents.

 

July 10, 2018

The Honorable Betsy DeVos Secretary
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202

Dear Madam Secretary:

It has been widely reported that you are considering revoking the Department’s January 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter providing guidance on the nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline.

In the best interests of young people across our nation who struggle in the school setting, we ask you not to move forward with such an action.

California’s recent experience proves that school districts can successfully reduce school suspensions and the disparate impact of exclusionary discipline policies. Moreover, that progress goes hand-in-hand with greater academic achievement, safer schools, and improved campus climates.

The California Endowment been working to promote alternatives to exclusionary school discipline practices for more than a decade. We know that racial inequities are real and are damaging. They are a cornerstone of the school-to-prison pipeline that leads to mass incarceration and poor health outcomes for countless young people of color.

I am writing today to share more about California’s recent experience, in the hope it will convince you that more action is needed, not less-and that revoking existing policy guidance would be an extremely unwise decision.

I. Students of Color Are Suspended More Frequently Than Are White Students, and These Disparities Are Rooted in Racial Bias. Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education and many state Departments of Education, including California’s, are indisputable. African American students are 2-4 times more likely to be suspended than are White students. Students of color with disabilities face the highest suspension risks-approximately 25 percent have received at least one out-of-school suspension.1

These disparities cannot be explained by behavioral differences or socio­ economic circumstance. One landmark study funded by The National Institutes of Health found that students of color are treated more harshly than are White students even when accused of similar infractions.2

These disparate outcomes are not necessarily the consequence of overt racism. Implicit bias among educators and school resources officers is also a major factor. The 2014 guidance recognizes this through its focus on disparate outcomes as well as intent. The guidance appropriately emphasizes impact on the student, not the motivation of the school or school district.

II. Suspensions and Expulsions Lead to a Lifetime of Negative Consequences. The stakes are high for our young people. Research shows that students who are suspended even once are far less likely to complete high school than their non-suspended peers. Over the course of their lifetimes, that results in a greater likelihood of unemployment, serious health problems and increased risk for arrest and incarceration. It also means less tax revenue, and higher health care and criminal justice costs, for the nation. Researchers estimate that a single high school dropout results in $163,000 in lifelong lost tax revenue and $364,000 in other social costs, such as higher health care expenses. Analysts at The UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies isolated the number of annual dropouts due solely to excess suspensions and determined that a single year’s cohort cost the U.S. economy $35 billion annually.3 Over time, these costs grow exponentially.

III. There are Proven Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline Policies. Thanks to a determined effort by state and school district leaders in California, instructional days lost due to suspension have declined approximately 40 percent over the past five years. The racial disparities gap has also dropped substantially but is not yet eliminated.4 A variety of policy changes are responsible for this good news, especially investments in restorative practices and other alternatives to suspension. California has also prohibited suspending K-3 students for “Willful Defiance,” a vague, catch-all category used to justify exclusion from class for a variety of minor infractions, such as talking back. Many of California’s largest school districts have extended the willful defiance ban to all grade levels.

At the same time that suspensions have fallen, academic achievement and graduation rates have improved significantly.5 Also, students, parents, and staff in The Los Angeles Unified School District (California’s largest) report feeling safer on campus now that suspension rates are lower, according to LAUSD surveys.6

This is happening because LAUSD and other districts have implemented best-practice alternatives to suspension-first discipline practices, including those recommended in the federal guidance. These alternatives help educators build stronger relationships with students. They lead students to see educators as allies, eager to support them-not enforcers, searching for opportunities to exclude them from the classroom. These positive relationships are the core of a healthy and productive learning environment.

With such dramatic progress in California and other states, it is time to double­-down on alternatives to suspension. Revoking the 2014 guidance would be a huge step backward.

For the sake of our children, and the strength of nation, I ask that you keep current guidance in place, and work with us to keep our young people in school, where they belong.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO, The California Endowment

 

1 See https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/2013-14-first-look.pdf

2 See Wallace, et.al, “Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in School Discipline among
U.S. High School Students,” Accessed at:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678799/.

3 See Rumberger and Losen, “The High Costs of Harsh School Discipline,” Accessed at: https://www. civiIrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/projects/center-for-civi1-rights- remedies/school-to-prison-folder/federal-reports/the-high-cost-of-harsh-discipline-and­ its-disparate-impact

4 See Losen and Whitaker, “The Disparate Impact of the School Discipline Gap in California,” Ibid.

5 https://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yrl7/yrl7rel67a.asp

6 See Losen and Whitaker, Ibid.

Sacramento (June 27, 2018) – Anthony Iton, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment, released the following statement regarding adoption of the state budget. The budget includes a provision that makes permanent the current ban on suspensions for “willful defiance” in grades K-3, which was first implemented in 2015. The existing prohibition had been scheduled to sunset in July.

Willful defiance is a subjective, catchall category used to justify removing students from school for minor behavioral infractions, such as talking back. Black and Brown students are suspended far more frequently for willful defiance than are White students, contributing to long term disparities in education, health and employment.

“I commend Governor Brown and California’s legislative leaders for making the ban on willful defiance suspensions in grades K-3 permanent and for investing in alternatives to suspension. Today’s action is an important step forward.”

“If California continues to act boldly to end its reliance on overly subjective and exclusionary school discipline policies, we can both create healthy, caring communities on school campuses and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that contributes to the mass incarceration of young people in California. In place of prison, we must give all young people — whether White, Black or Brown — the education they deserve on campuses that will nurture their success.”

About The California Endowment                                                 

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. Through its ‘Health Happens Here’ campaign and ten-year initiative for Building Healthy Communities, The Endowment is creating places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org.

 

In California today, one in ten students misses two or more days of school each month, enough to be chronically absent.

Research shows that these young people—nearly 700,000 students—are more likely to struggle with math and reading, fail classes, or drop out of school altogether. Chronic absence adds to achievement gaps because students from low-income communities face greater hurdles to getting to school and have fewer resources to make up for lost learning time. And when lots of children in a classroom are chronically absent, it can affect the learning environment for all students.

The reasons children miss school frequently may surprise you. Some common barriers include health problems, a lack of transportation, concerns about safety on or near campus, and a feeling of disconnectedness from school caused by an unwelcoming climate or instructional methods that don’t feel culturally relevant.

High chronic absence levels are a flashing red alert that something is amiss at home, in the community, within the school or a combination of all. Even moderate levels of chronic absence can signal that schools are having difficulties creating a school climate that motivates strong attendance, or that a school improvement effort is not effectively engaging and meeting the needs of students and families.

Finding chronic absence in a school is not cause for scolding or blaming. Rather, it is a call to action for school leaders, students, families, public agencies, and nonprofits to work together to solve a very serious problem. Chronic absence is a sign that schools need additional support from the district, other public agencies and non-profits to address these barriers.

Reducing chronic absence starts by using data to reach students before they miss too many days, examining trends and looking into what is needed to turn chronic absence around. Thanks to new resources available online, that first step is easier than ever before.

As a result of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the California Department of Education (CDE) now collects attendance data for every school, district and county in California. These results are publicly available at CDE’s DataQuest online.  You can also learn more about trends in your community by viewing the chronic absence story map created by the Center for Regional Change at the University of California, Davis.

With this information at hand, community leaders can better understand the steps they should take to partner with schools to get students to school so they don’t miss out on important learning opportunities. Successful strategies may include partnering with students and families to understand and address common barriers  to getting to school,  adopting a community-wide messaging campaign and expanding mentoring programs.

These and many other ideas are explained in a new report from Attendance Works,

Seize the Data Opportunity in California: Using Chronic Absence to Improve Educational Outcomes.  The report analyzes the most recent data released by  CDE to examine how many students were chronically absent for every school in California.  It also suggests steps that everyone can take—from individual families to teachers to California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Supported by The California Endowment, Seize the Data helps leaders identify what they can do to ensure that every student is in class every day, so they can learn, thrive, and grow into healthy adults.

Hedy N. Chang is Executive Director of Attendance Works, a national non-profit initiative dedicated to advancing student success and reducing equity gaps by addressing chronic absence.  Learn more at www.attendanceworks.org 

Bakersfield Californian – MATT ROSS: A call for righteous representation in KHSD redistricting

…Currently, the Kern High School District does not embody righteous representation. According to a recent story in the Bakersfield Californian, three of the five board members live within a few miles of each other in the northwest area of Bakersfield. Meanwhile, the rural areas of Arvin, Lamont and Weedpatch do not have a single representative from their area on the board. This is unacceptable. In that same article I was quoted as suggesting that the initial plans proposed by the District “maintained the status quo in order to order to maintain the incumbency” of the board, and I added, “They draw the lines to protect themselves.” And I stand by that statement…

Click here to read the full commentary

The California Health Report – Doctor’s Notes: How LA Kitchen is Empowering Foster Youth, Former Convicts with Food

Michaela Ruiz, Manager of LA Kitchen Impact, shown with carrot muffins. Photo Credit: Robert Egger
…About half on the 26 students complete the training, which is similar to other culinary schools. More than 85 percent of graduates get a job. After graduation, the training continues with life-skills lessons, including money management and how to move up the professional ladder…

Click here to read article

Change is here and young people are at the forefront.

Following the fatal February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida – which took the lives of 17 staff and students – survivors were left feeling terrified, angry and devastated. More importantly though, they were left with a spark ignited within them.

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas started the national movement Never Again, advocating for comprehensive gun reform and making the safety of students in school a priority. On March 24, the students and some 800,000 people took to the streets of Washington, D.C. and were joined by hundreds of thousands of others in cities around the world in a protest called March for Our Lives.

When college student Yasmin Mendoza, 21, saw the Parkland students rise up and speak out against politicians and the National Rifle Association (NRA), she realized that she couldn’t just sit around and watch anymore.

“I knew I needed to stand up and be a part of this change,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza, along with other local students, organized March for Our Lives Fresno, which saw over 2,000 people gather at Fresno High School.

To start the event, Mendoza held back tears as she honored the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting by reading their names aloud. In memory of their lives, 17 white dove balloons were released.

Before the march commenced, the March for Our Lives Fresno students took the stage and spoke to the crowd denouncing easy access to assault rifles, the NRA and politicians.

Rep. Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District was called out by numerous speakers for taking money from the NRA and his silence and inaction towards gun reform.

Other speakers included Matt Rogers, a representative from Senator Kamala Harris’ office, and congressional candidate for the upcoming midterm elections, Andrew Janz.

In an interview before Saturday’s events, Mendoza said the purpose of the march was to call out politicians to make school safety a priority.

“[School] is where learning happens. That is where we are cultivating an environment of education that is preparing students for the future,” she said.

Mendoza continued and said the safety of our children is the most important thing and that this is not the time to take political sides. She also hopes the march will help lead to a change in leadership, especially with midterm elections coming up later in the year.

“We have [Devin Nunes] taking money from a gun lobbyist group,” Mendoza said. “He’s been doing it for a long time, along with other congressmen, and I don’t think that will change unless we get out there and vote.

“To those who aren’t supporting us, we’ll see you at the polls,” she continued. “We’re fed up and we’re not going to put up with politicians who aren’t putting the safety of young students first. You won’t be in office much longer if you aren’t listening to the majority of the American people.”

Mendoza hopes the march will inspire young people within our own community to get out, vote and have their own voices be heard.

“We need to encourage student voices,” Mendoza said. “Young people, the youth, are the future of this country. I hope the students participating in these walkouts and marches also participate in the polls once they’re of age.”

Clovis student and speaker Elizabeth Grubb said, “We will be the generation that ends mass shootings.”

Even after their success, the students behind March for Our Lives Fresno aren’t showing signs of slowing down.

For their next steps, the students have already organized and are hosting a town hall on April 7 to have an open dialogue about gun violence. They have extended an invite to Rep. Devin Nunes to attend.

In a statement received by KMJ News from Nunes’ Director of Communications Jack Langer, Nunes will be unable to attend the town hall as he will be “traveling abroad on Intelligence Committee business.”

For more information about the town hall or to stay connected with March for Our Lives Fresno, follow them on social media:

Facebook: /marchforourlivesfresno
Twitter: @marchfresno
Instagram: marchforourlivesfresno

This article orignally ran in The kNOw Youth Media. Click here to read it there.

Long Beach Voicewaves – AFTER PARKLAND: LONG BEACH YOUTH ON GUN POLITICS, THE NRA, AND SCHOOL SAFETY

 

On average, research shows that about one school shooting happens every week in the United States. On Feb. 21, rumors peaked on social media around gun violence threats at Long Beach high schools, leading some students to stay home. The prior week, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — a trend far too familiar. VoiceWaves asked its youth: What should local politicians do to make them feel safe on campus?

In the aftermath of last month’s horrific shooting in Florida, many young people and community leaders are searching feverishly for ways to improve safety and reduce violence in schools.

They have suggested improving the instant background check system for prospective gun buyers, a nationwide ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and increasing access to mental health services for young people.

Amid all these good suggestions, one horrible idea keeps resurfacing: increasing the number of armed police and security guards in schools. In this blog, I want to share three reasons why more police in schools actually makes our children less safe.

  1. More Money for Police Means Less Money for Counseling and Other Strategies that Really Work. Increasing access to school counselors and mental health services is a proven way to improve safety on campus, prevent teen suicide, and help young people achieve academically. However, despite its effectiveness, California currently ranks last in the nation for providing access to school counselors, with a ratio of 945 students for every counselor, compared to the national average of 477:1.
  1. Armed Police Create a Distrustful School Climate, Feed the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Worsen Inequities. Studies show that when students encounter armed guards, high fences, and other prison-like security features, they feel uncomfortable and are less likely to trust school leaders. Those fears are heightened when they see their peers arrested in school, often for pranks, hallway scuffles, and other conduct that should be dealt with by a principal, not a judge. Studies show that students of color are far more likely than are White students to be arrested in school, even for similar offences, and school arrests and suspensions lead to lower graduation rates and increased risk for a lifetime of poor health.
  1. School Resource Officers Do Not Reduce Violent Incidents on School Grounds. A school resource officer was on duty during last month’s Parkland tragedy and a Deputy Sherriff was at Columbine during the deadly 1999 Colorado shooting. It is difficult to draw definitive conclusions, but the evidence to date does not indicate that school resource officers reduce violent crimes on campus.

Placing more police in schools is a bad idea.

It misuses money that could be invested in proven solutions, like hiring more school counselors. It feeds the school to prison pipeline, especially for people of color, and it doesn’t achieve its primary goal of making schools safer.

Policymakers are 100% justified in their determination to make our schools safer, and the young people leading this movement—from Florida to California—are inspiring and courageous. We should support them by advocating for ideas that work and abandoning the failed strategy of militarizing our classrooms.

In the aftermath of yet another horrific mass shooting in our nation: Keeping the families and students of the Parkland, Florida community in thought, in prayer, in reflection and in “the light.”

But let me focus these thoughts by honoring what we have heard from the families and students in their message to our nation’s politicians, and I’m paraphrasing: “We don’t want your prayers or your sympathies – we want your action to solve the problem.”

As a general rule, I’m an optimist about the ability and capacity of our nation to move along the right trajectory on matters of basic fairness and justice – even when these policy battles take years and decades to see movement.  But I admit to resorting to downright pessimism after the Sandy Hook shootings failed to result in any meaningful policy change, and the apparent spinelessness of a Congress under the grip of the NRA.

As I write these words, I hear that high school students across the nation – powered by social media – are organizing “walkouts” as a form of protest against Congress’ paralysis on addressing gun violence.  This is powerful, timely, and a critical use of voice for several reasons.  The first is that it provides a way for the students to speak clearly and compellingly to our nation’s elected officials in a single voice through a single action.  Secondly, it is a simple act that an individual can engage in locally, but feel attached to a national movement.

Thirdly – and this affirms why our foundation supports the voice and engagement of youth through civic activism to improve community wellness – our youth possess the ability to shame and embarrass our adult generation to join them in action.  When the students “walk out”, I hope their teachers and school administrators follow them out the door.  I certainly plan to “walk out” of whatever meeting I’m in at the very same time in symbolic support, and will invite any of our staff at our organization to do so as well.

Message to our nation’s young people:  Lead On — we will follow.

 

 

 

Click here to read a Chronicle of Philanthropy commentary by Robert K. Ross, MD, on what foundations can do in response to the Parkland shootings.

Click here to learn about the March 14 National School Walkout

Click here to learn about the March 24 National March for Our Lives On Washington

 

Inside Philanthropy – In California, These Funders Want to Keep Kids Out of the Criminal Justice System

…Local and regional funders are also involved in juvenile justice reform, and California is one place where this cause has drawn a fair amount of interest from grantmakers. For years, the state’s juvenile justice system—the largest in the U.S.—has been the focus of outrage and intense criticism for its inhumanity and ineffectiveness. Efforts at reform have yielded some success. The population of incarcerated youth in California is much lower today than a decade ago—a drop that tracks with national trends…

Click here to read article

Click here to learn more about the #SchoolsNotPrisons movement