CVMB Press Release: Counselors Not Cops

October 19, 2018

Press Statement For Immediate release through October 27, 2018
Subject: Central Valley Movement Building “Counselors-Not-Cops”
Contacts: (209) 286-7564/ email: cvmbconnector@gmail.com

“Counselors Not Cops: Dignity in Schools Campaign, CA – Week of Action”

Central Valley, CA.… As part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout, the Central Valley Movement Building (CVMB) coalition, and community-based organizations from other parts of California, are holding a series of events and are sending out press releases focused on the theme and demand, “Counselors-Not-Cops: Rethinking School Safety.”

One of the reasons for the Week of Action, is that the Central Valley has the highest rates of in-and-out of school suspensions of all the regions and counties in California, that disproportionately impacts the poor, students with disabilities, LGBTQ youth and youth of color. (1)

The highest suspending districts in the Central Valley during school year 16-17 are Merced County Office of Education with a rate of 25 suspensions per 100 students and the Mojave Unified School District with a rate of 22 suspensions per 100 students. Suspensions are even occurring at the elementary level. Fairfax Elementary School District issued 81 suspensions for every 100 foster care students enrolled.  The Central Valley region has the highest suspension rates for Black students of all regions across state: 27 suspensions per 100 black students enrolled. The region has the highest suspension rates for a number of other student groups including foster youth (33 suspensions per 100 foster student) and students with disabilities, (21 suspensions per 100 students with disabilities enrolled). (2)

Suspensions and expulsions cut off students from the positive interactions of schools, also setting students up for a variety of negative life outcomes. School Resource Officers (SRO’s) interfere with the overall opportunity for students to learn, in some cases creating the very sense of fear and violence that they are supposed to prevent. Causing students to miss school or otherwise become disengaged from school sets off a chain reaction of missed opportunity that leads to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that ends in future justice involvement3.

In the Central Valley, Elk Grove Unified, Stockton Unified and Clovis Unified respectively had 873, 307, 203 referrals to law enforcement in 2015/16. The school related arrests during the same time period were lower, but still significant in other Central Valley districts, including Fresno Unified, 159, Sacramento City Unified, 158, Clovis Unified, 114 and Tulare City 56.

In 2015/16 the Central Valley had1,079,038.00 students enrolled plus 607 full time police officers and 737 full time security officers. There are more police officers and security guards in Central Valley schools (combined = 1,345) than counselors (1,315) (4).

Districts are prioritizing school police funding over student needs. For example, Clovis Unified pays for the salaries and supplies of its police department, including firearms and ammunition, with money earmarked for the needs of low-income, foster youth, and English learner students. The Clovis district LCAP includes approximately $1.5 million to fund school resource officers, with just over $741,000 of the allotted sum going to the salaries of 16 Clovis Unified Police Department officers, according to the District’s budget. District spokeswoman Kelly Avants said, on average the district spends around $3,600 on firearms and $2,281 on ammunition every year (5).

The Central Valley is an isolated and under-resourced region; however, CVMB will intentionally and collaboratively work with communities to address broad systemic and transformative changes by increasing awareness and engagement in school discipline reform and redefining school safety.

CVMB seeks to redefine school safety by asking all Central Valley school districts to do the following:

  • Adopt and implement policies designed to create a safe school culture (consisting of student/parent-led restorative justice circles resolutions.)
  • Adopt and implement alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices —including implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) programs, restorative practices, parent/community oversight, culturally responsive learning and positive school/community relationship.
  • Limit the use of School Resource Officers and other law enforcement interventions to criminal and emergency situations and provide clear policy guidelines upon which the presence of law enforcement personnel is allowed and interacts on campus.
  • Eliminate Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding for School Resource Officers and law enforcement, and instead provide adequate LCFF funding for counselors, social workers and intervention workers.

Central Valley Movement Building is a member of Dignity in Schools Campaign California (DSC CA) whose goal is to end the School-to-Prison pipeline and to radically embrace and fight for truly safe, holistic, and healing schools for all.

As local, state, and federal officials call to further police and militarize our schools, Central Valley Movement Building and Dignity in School Campaign California reject these false solutions and demand a new vision of transformational schooling emphasizes supporting students instead of suspending them and locking them up.

For more information about the Central Valley Movement Building please go to our website: www.cvmb.org or email us at : cvmbconnector@gmail.com. Also, for more information about the Dignity in School Campaign, California go to the website: https://dignityinschools-ca.org/

 

FOOTNOTES

  1. Central Valley includes all districts in the following counties: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare
  2. California Department of Education, DataQuest, 16/17
  3. Education under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools, Justice Policy Institute, November
  4. Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights, www.ed.gov/ocr
  5. https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article217308340.html

Central Valley Activities and Events for National Week of Action School Pushout

As part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout, starting October 20-28th, and Dignity In Schools Campaign, California, Central Valley Movement Building members are hosting the following events and activities in the Central Valley. Other events and activities are being held in other regions in the state, and across the country.

Events and Activities

Rethink School Safety
Central Valley Movement Building
Press Release Statement “Counselors Not Cops: DSC CA, Week of Action”
Contact Carrie Ayala: (209) 286-7564/ email: cvmbconnector@gmail.com
Date: 10/20/2018
Time: 8:00 am

Restorative Justice Collaborative Community Forum
Black Parallel School Board
Dr. Jason Okonofua will be speaking on inequality-teacher student and race disparities in disciplinary actions against Black and Brown Students.
Date: 10/25/2018
Time: 4:00pm

Trunk or Read
Fathers & Families of San Joaquin
Event filled with fun for children and educational information to parents and community regarding literacy and education. We will be giving away candy, pumpkins, books, and I will be tabling at the event to hand out information related to Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline and dispelling myths.
Date: 10/26/2018
Time: 3:00pm

Removal of Student Resource Officers
Dolores Huerta Foundation
The Parlier Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors) of the Dolores Huerta Foundation will be attending the Parlier Unified School Board meeting at Parlier Jr. High. Vecinos will be requesting the removal of LCAP funds for student resource officers and for the removal of the student resource officer.
Date: October 23
Time: 6:00pm

Social Media

Follow and Like CVMB Facebook Page

Link to DSC-CA Website

Follow and Like: DSC CA Facebook Page

Link to DSC National google docs with resources for National Week of Action

Link to DSC National with information about National Week of Action

Hash Tags for Week of Action

  • #CentralValley
  • #CVMB
  • #RethinkSchoolSafety
  • #StudentsNotSuspects
  • #ChangingtheNarrative
  • #PushHealingNotPushOut
  • #EndSchoolPushout
  • #EndSchooltoPrisonPipeline
  • #HealingforSafety

CVMB Is in Solidarity With the National Week of Action

Note: this statement is republished from Dignity in Schools Campaign California, in which Central Valley Movement Building is member of.

As a coalition, the Dignity in Schools Campaign California (DSC CA) is building grassroots leadership, movement, and political solidarity across the state to cast a new vision for public education, in which school safety shifts away from a culture of punishment to one of transformation, restoration, and healing. This vision is rooted in our shared and critical understanding of history, and our collective stand to repair its harm and say “Never Again”. 

Our Never Again 

Our “Never Again” is rooted in the Black-led Reconstruction and slave revolt that brought down chattel slavery and opened up the first public schools. Our “Never Again” abolished Jim Crow education and led the Chicano Blowouts. Organized by students, parents, and their broader communities, our “Never Again” birthed liberatory movements for ethnic studies, critical pedagogy, bilingual education, restorative justice and other transformative educational practices. Today, our “Never Again” rejects the school to prison and deportation pipeline and works to build a movement from the ground up, in California and nationwide.

As local, state and federal officials call to further police and militarize our schools, DSC CA rejects these false solutions and works to build a long-term movement with communities, students, and parents across the state. This movement is committed to ending all forms of violence in our schools, including those associated with policing, criminalization, and institutional racism, as well as those associated with guns.

Removing Cops From Schools

The Central Coast Movement Building (CCMB) team built a coalition of supporters, parents and students in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District focused on School Resource Officers in their schools. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District stretches from the city of Marina to the north to the city of Monterey to the south, and encompasses the communities of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Sand City, and Seaside. The campus as of the 2017-18 enrolled 10,000 students.  Thanks to the CCMB organizing efforts and intensified work with community to address policing on campus, we forced the school district to reexamine the role of police in schools and successfully stopped Marina and Seaside from hiring police to patrol their campuses. 

Organizing Against Cops On Campus

In Oakland, the Black Organizing Project (BOP) knows that the school-to-prison pipeline is a direct response to the rise of Black Power and a direct attack on young people. In 2011 the Black Organizing Project formed the Bettering Our Schools System (BOSS) Campaign in response to the murder of Raheim Brown by the Oakland School Police Department (OSPD).

The campaign has been working to shift the narrative that police equals safety by calling for the full elimination of school police by 2020 and demanding that schools not contract with law enforcement. While we have been able to see some wins from temporary reforms such as —having a complaint process, eliminating suspensions for willful defiance and reducing the police budget—  we know that it will take a complete transformation of the public education systems culture to ensure schools are sanctuaries for the most impacted youth.

Since 2011 we have continued to be on the ground working with Black parents & students who have been negatively affected by the school to prison pipeline to seek transformative alternatives that will shift the culture in schools to one that is nonpunitive and values the lives of all children.

Building Solidarity

This is the way we build solidarity – aligning efforts across politically diverse regions and contexts to ensure that Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, poor/working class communities of color across the state are included in our movement.  We are collectively aiming toward a “North Star” and working on the ground, community to community, to share our struggle, capacity, political lessons, and strategies to win change in even the most conservative of regions. 

National Week of Action 

Starting October 20th through October 28th, DSC CA allies in the Central Valley, Bay Area, Central Coast, Los Angeles, and Inland Valley regions Starting October 20th through will participate in the 9th annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout. This year’s theme, “Counselors Not Cops,” sends a resounding message to disrupt misplaced priorities and over-reliance on school police as the “only” solution to school safety.  

Our DSC CA events aim to dismantle law enforcement’s relationship with Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, and poor/working-class schools. 

Community-based engagement and forums will be held on racial disparities in education, rethinking school safety, dispelling racial stereotypes and myths about our communities, student and family storytelling about experiences with counselors and police, building “sanctuary schools” grounded in Black & Brown solidarity and resistance to surveillance and forced removals, and monitoring the fidelity with which hard-fought, community policy victories for transforming school climate are being implemented.

This is not a moment.  This is history.  DSC CA is a coalition built for the long arm of struggle and resistance to radically embrace and fight for truly safe, holistic, and healing schools for all. 

Five Videos for Starting a Conversation About Restorative Justice Circles

One of the challenges of combatting zero tolerance policies and practices in schools requires providing an alternative methods of dealing with conflicts between students, students and teachers, and the lack of a positive and supportive school climate.

Central Valley Movement Building supports and advocates the use of the restorative justice models in schools and districts with a particular focus on what is called Restorative Justice Circles.

The traditional method of suspending and sending students home when they get into a fight or other altercations simply does not work to keep students in school or help develop mutual respect amongst students and the school in general. The goal should be that schools, teachers, staff and administrators help build a positive climate for students in which zero tolerance policies and countless stated and unstated rules are replaced by a climate of mutual respect and caring.

Five Selected Videos

The following are five chosen videos about restorative justice circles that provide an overview of how useful restorative justice circles work and the positive impact they can have in schools. If you find it useful, you might consider showing one of these videos to your group, classroom, or at a school board meetings. Strike up a conversations with your peers, fellow parents, and teachers about restorative justice circles in your school or district.

Restorative Circles: Creating a Safe Environment for Students to Reflect

A daily meeting provides space for students to reflect on their behavior and find positive ways to resolve conflicts.

Colorado high school replaces punishment with ‘talking circles’

At Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colo., students, parents and administration are meeting face-to-face to resolve student conflict with conversation. The number of physical altercations has taken a nosedive as this new type of disciplinary action, called “restorative justice,” replaces suspension. Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

The “Why” of Restorative Practices in Spokane Public Schools

Restorative Practices is an approach to promoting positive behaviors that focuses on understanding the conflict and how to repair the harm, rather than traditional discipline.

This video outlines how it works in Spokane Public Schools. Learn more at www.spokaneschools.org/Restorative.

Restorative Justice in Oakland Schools: Tier One. Community Building Circle

A pair of students at MetWest High School, an Oakland public school in Oakland, Calif., facilitate a community-building circle in their classroom.

Introducing Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth

RJOY’s mission is to fundamentally shift the way we respond to youthful wrongdoing from punitive approaches that inflict more harm to restorative approaches that repair it.

California City Parents Develop Strong LCAP Recommendations for Mojave School District

In just over a year, parents in California City have made great progress in organizing and advocating for Black and Brown students in Mojave Unified School District.

Parents formed a group now called the Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA). This year, working closely with the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) in Bakersfield and the Central Valley Movement Building, parents started attending and speaking out at the MUSD Board meetings.

As part of their presentation in a local public Local Control Accountability Plan hearing, DHF and CCPSA made specific recommendations on behalf students of color in the MUSD district.

LCAP Recommendations

In part, the recommendations include:

School Climate
MUSD is currently allocating $842,815 for PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). However, students are constantly being suspended and expelled without any intervention and any parent contact and students are being referred to police. This kind of zero-tolerance policy creates a negative school climate that guarantees an incriminating student record. MUSD must be use these funds to correctly implement PBIS.

Cultural Awareness
Although the student demographics are 65% students of color, there is only $7,000 being on spent on cultural awareness. Parents have been told that there is lack of cultural awareness curriculum; however, there are public documentaries and other resources which can be used for classroom instruction. Students deserve to be taught curriculum that represents their demographics. MUSD must increase these funds as well as implement cultural competency training for staff.

Parent Engagement
In order to increase parent engagement, MUSD must allocate funds for the creation of an African American Parent Committee. This will allow parents to analyze the needs of students and be able to create programs that will lead to student academic achievement.

Student Achievement
Parents would like to see more transparency in the grading system. The parent portal is not being utilized and the district must create a system which is accessible to parents to keep track of their child’s academic progress.

Moving Forward

These and other recommendations have been included in MUSD’s LCAP for the upcoming school year 2018-19.

CCPSA, DHF, and CVMB will continue to push and monitor the implementation of the LCAP recommendations. Parents will continue to attend board meetings and specifically push for the formation of an African American parent committee for the district or in specific schools in California City.

The goal of the parents and supporting organizations is to work with the MUSD to bring about measurable outcomes that include a reduction in the suspension rates, an increase in the graduation rates of students of color by making use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and restorative justice practices, as well as culture sensitivity training and teaching for teachers and staff.

Members of the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and the California City Parallel School Advocates

Similar goals and actions are taking place with other CVMB partners, including the Black Parallel School Board in Sacramento, the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and Kern Education Justice Collaborative.  These groups also participated in CVMB’s April convening where they received a Know Your Rights Presentation and a detailed presentation about the high suspension rates in the Central Valley.

 

CVMB Partners Taking Action in California City

The following a Letter to the Editor to the Mojave Desert News is in response to an article the newspaper published about CVMB partners (the Ca City Parents Students Association and Dolores Huerta Foundation) speaking at the Mojave Unified School District. Re: MUSD does the LCAP dance” 
 
This response letter reflects the direct actions CVMB and our partners are taking to make demands and changes for African American students in California City public schools.
 
The Mojave Desert to publish our letter to the newspaper, which we’re reposting here.  
 

Letter to the Editor

The recent article about Mojave Unified School District board should have appeared in the Opinion section of your paper rather than the News section. The article erroneously misreports the issues brought up by parents and supporters at the board meeting.
 
According to California law, school districts are required to hold public hearings, in which parents can give recommendations on how to allocate state funds for student achievement.
 
Our parent group, the Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA), not the “District African American Parent Council” as reported, works to monitor and address problems faced by students of color, and particularly African American students, unfairly targeted in MUSD schools.
 
CCPSA is also supported by the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) out of Kern County that helps parents advocate against discriminatory practices in the district, and which led to KHSD settling in a lawsuit in which they must implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to ensure they are not expelling or suspending students on racially implicit biases, just as African American students who are unfairly treated in the MUSD district.
 
DHF also spoke at the meeting to clarify the purpose of Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which supports English Language Learners, foster youth and low-income students. LCAP funds must be used by the district to increase the services and resources of the aforementioned groups.
 
CCPSA is also concerned about the district turning students over to the police department for non-criminal behavior. These matters should be handled by school administrators, and parents should be called in when their child is involved in a fight, in order to comply with PBIS and responsibly utilize the $1 million MUSD is allocating for PBIS implementation.
 
The CCPSA invites Desert News to interview Black students and parents in the district to get our views and perspectives on these issues.

Update

Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA) and the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF), along with the Central Valley Movement Building will continue to organize and push for changes in California City schools to affect changes.
Members of CPSA (supported by DHF and CVMB) will continue to attend and speak out at the district board meetings concerning the discriminatory policies and actions affecting African American students in the district. CVMB will write another blog post soon about the progress that has been made in California City, but also about what else needs to be done.
Members of CCPSA and DHF also attended the first valley convening of this year back in May in which CVMB presented information about the school-to-prison pipeline, and another presentation about knowing your legal rights regarding school discipline policies.

CVMB Regional Connector Job Announcement

The Central Valley Movement Building Team is searching for an on-going Central Valley Movement Building Regional Connector to build and develop the region’s capacity that will implement our long- term movement building goals. The position is a part of 2-year contract and located in Fresno.

Before you submit your resumé, please carefully read the job description and application process. Click HERE to download the job description.

CVMB Holds First Convening of Parents and Organizers in the Central Valley

Central Valley Movement Building (CVMB) held its first Regional Partner Convening for this year to present and discuss the latest statistics about school suspension rates in the Central Valley, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the legal rights students and parents have in regard to school disciplinary policies .

The convening included parents, education activists, and students from California for Justice, Barrio Undios and Focus Forward (Fresno); Fathers and Families (Stockton), Black Parallel School Board (Sacramento); the Dolores Huerta Foundation (Kern); the California City Parallel School Advocates, and the Merced Black Parallel School Board.

This year’s convening was especially powerful in that it included parents and community organizers who are actively challenging issues of racial discrimination, unfair and costly student school suspensions of especially black and brown students, and poor academic support on the part of schools, administrators, and teachers in Central Valley schools.

CVMB Regional Coordinator, Stephanie Kamey, welcomed participants and facilitated  the convening by giving a presentation about the goals of CVMB and the Five Principles Of Engagement. 11 participants signed the Principles of Engagement.

Regional Coordinator, Stephanie Kamey

Dignity in Schools California team coordinator and research consultant, Tia Martinez, gave a powerful and alarming presentation of statistical data about the suspension and expulsion rates of students in the Central Valley.

Though Tia pointed out how suspensions have actually dropped by 46% in California (because of local activist work and restorative justice practices), the rates of suspensions and willful defiance are still worse for black and brown students in California. In fact, she pointed out several times that the Central Valley has the highest rates of in and out of school suspensions of all the regions and counties in California.

Tina Martinez

The Central Valley is driving suspensions for Black students, at 53%. Similar rates are also high for foster youth, 32.0%, and students with a disability at 20.5%, compared to 11.8% statewide. The highest suspending districts in California are in Merced county, at 25.2%, and in the Mojave school district, at 22%. Suspensions are even occurring at the elementary level. Fairfax Elementary, in Bakersfield, suspends 80.5% of its foster care students.

Suspensions Lead to Drop-Outs

The stats for school suspensions show that kids who are suspended are twice as likely to be held back in school. Tia explained that when students get behind and they stay behind. When suspended kids are not in school they are more exposed to aggressive policing in their communities, which can lead them to getting arrested and placed in jail or juvenile hall, which is difficult to get out of.

Suspended youth are twice as likely to drop of out school all together if they don’t have adequate family and school support networks. School suspensions and expulsions, along with poor academics and counseling can mean that suspended students are acceptable to arrests, being putting into the juvenile justice system, and ultimately in prison. This process is what is meant by the school-to-prison pipeline.  

Know Your Rights

One of the purposes and goals of CVMB is to help parents and advocacy groups monitor and challenge what’s going on with the most racially targeted students in school districts, who are disproportionately suspended from school, and who get sucked into the school-to-prison pipeline.

CVMB invited members of Legal Services for Children and Coleman Advocates to give a presentation and training for how to advocate for youth and families, by being aware of and challenging the policies and practices that harshly punish students for breaking certain rules regardless of circumstances.

Representatives of Legal Services of California

Zero Tolerance Policies in schools are used to suspend students for willful defiance or disruption, which can include chewing gum in class, wearing an unacceptable hairstyle, failing to follow directions in class, and many other minor incidents and behaviors. Research has shown that the practice of suspending students for willful defiance is often subjective and disproportionately metedout to students of color.

Many parents may not still know that by current law, students in grades K-3 cannot be suspended for willful defiance or disruption, but that law is set to sunset on July 1 of this year. Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, has authored legislation, SB 607, that will extend the current law for grades K-5 and through 2023 for grades 6-12.  When students are suspended from school, they are missing classroom participation and learning time. That’s why it’s important to support and advocate for legislation like SB 607 to protect young people, mostly students of color, from discriminatory practices that keep them from getting the education they need.

 

During the presentation and discussion for Know Your Rights, the question arose about who is monitoring the actions of teachers and the school climate that contribute to disciplinary problems in the classroom. Parents should have the right to know which teachers in schools are sending kids to the principal’s office the most, or whom are having difficulty developing and maintaining a positive classroom environment conducive for teaching and learning.

In nearly all cases, the focus is on what students are doing wrong, but there’s less or no  monitoring of teachers who consistently have classroom management problems, who consistently give low grades, and who are not culturally aware of and sensitive to students they teach. Furthermore, too many students of color graduate from school never being taught by a teacher of color, especially an African American male or Latino teacher.

We need to monitor schools for multicultural inclusion, after-school programs, and sufficient counselor and social workers, instead adding more police on campus.

Parent and Community Activism

The purpose of the CVMB convening also enables parents and activist groups to network and exchange strategies for confronting the challenges they are facing with schools and districts in their community.

One of the big successes this year has been the founding of the California City Parallel School Advocates, and the Merced Black Parallel School Board, to organize and start making presentations and demands at their respective school board in their district. Both of these groups were inspired by the Black Parallel School Board in Sacramento, of whom CVMB coordinator Carl Pinkston is a founding member. 

Members of the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and the California City Parallel School Advocates

These groups can begin to learn about and influence the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the Local Control Funding Formula in their districts to earmark money for smaller classroom sizes, professional teacher training, after school programs, and to achieve other goals to increase student opportunities and academic achievement.

Similarly, organizers of the Dolores Huerta Foundation gave a presentation of a survey they conducted with parents about how aware they are of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), as well as getting stories about what students of color are experiencing in their school.

Parent and community organizers of the Dolores Huerta Foundation

Join the Movement

The only way we can continue to reduce school suspensions and increase academic opportunities and achievement is by getting parents, students, and even teachers involved in advocating for changes that will help keep students of color from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.