"We are students, young leaders, and concerned citizens from across California who need your help to fix a big problem in our state — the overuse of harsh, out-of-school discipline. Legislation awaiting your signature would bring vital improvements to education policy for students and schools across the state.
In 2011, California schools suspended students out of school more than 700,000 times, making California a national leader in a contest we don't want to win. In fact, we are suspending more students each year than we are graduating from high school.
How can students learn if they are not in school?
Too often, suspensions are for things that used to just get students sent to the principal's office, like being late, talking back, or horsing around. When a student is suspended, they fall behind in classwork, are far more likely to drop out, and far more likely to get in trouble with the law and enter the juvenile justice system. Young men of color bear the brunt of these out-of-school removals and, not surprisingly, have the highest rates of dropout and incarceration in the state.
Some school districts are finding solutions that help all students. Los Angeles, Oakland, West Contra Costa, Woodland county and others are holding students accountable for their behavior while also sharply reducing school removals by using restorative justice and positive behavior approaches. Studies show that all students in the school do better academically when these reforms are implemented and school safety and attendance rates also improve.
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Several bills are on your desk right now, including SB 1235(Steinberg), AB 1729 (Ammiano), and AB 2242 (Dickinson), that will make California a leader in keeping students in school and using effective discipline approaches. Together we can bring improvements to all students and schools across the state.
We all win when students thrive. Please stand with us and sign these bills, to keep students in school!"
Gabriel Brower, 17, Grant High School, Sacramento
Nancy Carretero Hernandez, 20, Fresno
David Chang, 15, Grant High School, Sacramento
Joshua Ham, 17, Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles
Veronica Martinez, 22, FREE L.A. High School, Los Angeles
Sammy Si, 17, Grant High School, Sacramento
Elijah Smithson-Mohammad, 18, American Legion High School, Sacramento
Deniece Yates, 16, Oakland Military Institute, Oakland