We Demand Durham Public Schools #LiberateToEducate

We Demand Durham Public Schools #LiberateToEducate

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Petition to
Durham Public Schools

Why this petition matters

The Youth Justice Project needs your help to address the problems in Durham Public Schools (DPS) and end the school-to-prison pipeline. We are a youth-led group of DPS students of color who believe in a world where no child is criminalized and all Black, Latinx and LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as students with disabilities, have the education and support necessary to thrive in their full dignity. Our #LiberateToEducate campaign is in partnership with Durham Beyond Policing

School should be a place of liberation and empowerment, not control and criminalization. During the 2018-2019 school year, 86% of school-based complaints to the justice system were against Black students even though they represented only 44% of student enrollment. In the same year, not a single White student received a school-based complaint despite research confirming that Black and White students misbehave at similar rates. Black students in DPS were also 7.4 times more likely than White students to receive a short-term suspension in the 2017-2018 school year.

As DPS students, we witness school resource officers (SROs) funneling students through the school-to-prison pipeline regularly. “One minute the SROs are interrupting a gym class and playing dodgeball with white students then the next minute, they’ll stop a student of color in the hall for wearing a hoodie.” Some of us also experience discrimination in academic tracking, which systemically places students of color in less challenging classes. “I am a victim of tracking specifically. I was told I could never be put into an honors class because of my test scores in elementary school, the age when my brain is still developing.”

The following recommendations were developed by Youth Justice Project members and represent a comprehensive view of educational justice that, if fully implemented, will effectively end the school-to-prison pipeline in DPS. We demand that Durham Public Schools listen to the voices of students by implementing these five demands:

1.      Remove all police from schools and end the contact with Durham Police Department and Durham Sheriff’s Office.

2.      Fully implement school-wide restorative justice program and end the use of exclusionary discipline.

3.      Liberate the school environment by:

a.       Providing more student choice in course selection and scheduling.

b.      Providing greater access to higher-level courses;

c.       Ending the practice of tracking {separating students by standardized test scores}.

4.      Require all schools to implement culturally relevant curriculum and create safe spaces for historically marginalized student populations {students of color, LGBTQIA and gender non-binary}.

5.      Establish mental health spaces in schools that are staffed by mental health professionals and are available during and after school hours.

By putting these demands into action we can make our school environment a better, healthier, safer, and more liberating place to learn. You can help us liberate DPS by signing our petition and telling school board members they must #LiberateToEducate. For campaign updates, subscribe to our mailing list

Sample Tweet: I signed the #LiberateToEducate petition because Black and Latinx students in @DurhamPublicSch deserve to feel loved and safe in liberated #PoliceFreeSchools.

School Board Twitter Handles:

Bettina Umstead: @BettinaUmstead

Natalie Beyer: @CarolinaNatalie

Frederick Xavier Ravin III: @FrederickRavin

Matt Sears: @TeachInDurham

Alexandra Valladares: @Comunidaddedur1

258 have signed. Let’s get to 500!