Demands to Address Education Inequities in Arlington Public Schools

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In light of recent national events, we realize that inequality and inequity can be found in places that many don't expect or believe to be immune to such shortcomings. Because of this, we were forced to take a second look at our schools and identify their weaknesses so our county can continue to be the best it can for its students. Although we pride ourselves in our diversity and inclusivity, and are often commended for it, we still have a ways to go before we can claim that our schools are truly equitable.

Education inequality can be found in discrepancies in achievement rates of students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities. But it can also be found in other areas such as racially disparate discipline rates and funding directed towards punitive programs such as SRO officers instead of programs that empower, educate, and support.

As concerned Arlington public school students, we provide a unique perspective on these issues because we are necessarily in-tune with the concerns of our peers and generation. From both research and observation, we have curated a list of demands to address the inequities in our school district. We demand that Arlington Public Schools:

- Require meaningful implicit bias and cultural competency training for teachers, administrators, and students;

- Establish a zero-tolerance policy for white supremacy;

- Create a transparent disciplinary policy that collects and reports disciplinary actions based on age, race, and gender, and limit the types of infractions that can result in out-of-school suspension;  

- Establish a disciplinary policy that includes student participation and oversight;

- Develop a Restorative Justice program for APS that will address the school-to-prison pipeline and give students the skills they need to properly address conflict;

- Eliminate the SRO program and redirect resources to fund more school social workers and school psychologists. 

These demands are just a start. In addition, we are urging the Arlington School Board to host a town hall about racial and economic inequalities in our public school schools.  Students, faculty, administrators, and community stakeholders may come together for a common cause to create an actionable plan to tackle our challenges and assure that the School Board incorporates student voices when making these changes. 

To demonstrate your support for these demands, sign on to our petition.

To see these demands broken down, visit bit.ly/OurDemandsForAPS.

Reach out to rosiepcouture@gmail.com or belan.yeshigeta@gmail.com with inquiries.