Hat tip to Pandagon
I saw this and had to share it. This is a two-week old story, but it encapsulates everything that annoys us as black people. Another black child was suspended, this time in Austin, Texas and the reason will have you tearing at your hair and mumbling incoherently for the next few days. First ShaQuonda and now this.
If this, or something more egregious has happened to your child, Harvard Univerisity’s Civil Rights Project suggests that you take the following steps:
APPROACHING SCHOOL BOARDS
One of the most effective ways to address discriminatory practices in school discipline is to address your school board. Organized presentations can have an immediate impact, and can have great influence if covered by the local media. The following are tips that may be helpful when addressing school boards.
Do background research on the School Board’s policy, procedures, and membership.
- Call the School Board and find out the time and location of their meetings and if you need to get on the agenda ahead of time.
- Determine if there are any special procedures for addressing the School Board.
- Find out if you have allies on the school board.
- Request the minutes of prior meetings to see whether the school board has recently discussed discipline issues or passed discipline policies.
Bring evidence and supporters.
- Gather evidence about discipline issues in the schools.
- Talk to other parents and other possible supporters (including school discipline experts from colleges and universities); encourage them to attend the meeting.
- Collect stories from children and parents about how discriminatory discipline policies have impacted them.
- Stress both data and real examples of children who are harmed by the policy to ensure that the focus remains on actual children and the effects of a discriminatory discipline policy.
Contact the media.
- Before you seek media coverage think carefully about what you want the media to do and choose a spokesperson for you organization.
- Send a press release to the media about your upcoming school board presentation. Include facts about the discriminatory discipline policy (see Appendix VI for information on writing press releases).
- Make sure your message is focused on a few major points and “stay on” your message in all your media relations.
- Be sure to provide contact information for your organization, as well as others in the area that support your message.
Emphasize the following education issues:
- Fair and effective discipline and high expectations for all children are critically important in schools.
- Fair and effective discipline teaches children proper behavior.
- Fair discipline is where the disciplinary consequences match the misbehavior. All children benefit from discipline that teaches appropriate social conduct effectively.
- Overly punitive discipline is neither fair nor effective.
- Fair and effective discipline improves the safety of the entire community, inside and outside of the school.
- A fair and effective policy should not result in children of some racial or ethnic groups being suspended and expelled significantly more often than others for minor offenses.
Communicate to the Board that you are prepared to follow through with legal action, but that legal remedies can be avoided by immediately addressing the concerns. Request that the School Board consider the following actions:
- Implement a proven effective discipline policy where punishments are fair and crafted as opportunities to teach children appropriate behavior.
- Decrease class size of “regular” classrooms, so teachers can better address the problems of all students.
- Increase teacher training in conflict resolution, provide teachers more support in the classrooms, provide better supports for children who appear difficult to manage, and implement programs that will increase effective early intervention.
- Train teachers so that they are multiculturally aware and able to implement positive classroom management policies.