October 2012 Newsletter
Public Interest Projects, Just and Fair Schools Fund

The Just and Fair Schools Fund (JFSF) supports grassroots organizing initiatives that work to eliminate harsh school discipline policies and practices - and that uphold the right to education for all youth. Our newsletter shares updates on parent-, youth-, and congregation-led victories, partner spotlights, news, and resources to promote positive school climates and discipline.


Power U Advances Code of Conduct Amendments for Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade County Public Schools set new rules that reduce lengthy out-of-school suspension terms and engage communities to boost positive student behavior. These revisions implement the recommendations of a task force created in response to Power U Center for Social Change and allies’ advocacy. Read more>

Jacksonville Pilot Project Cuts Suspensions in Half, is Expanded Districtwide

Due to commitments secured by Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation, and Empowerment (ICARE), two Duval County, FL, schools started restorative justice projects that reduced suspensions by more than half and Student Code of Conduct violations by roughly a third during the 2011-12 school year. Based on this succes, restorative justice programs have been opened to all county middle and high schools this year.

Restorative Justice Helps Raise Academic Achievement in Denver

Denver North High School reported double-digit gains in reading, science, and Advanced Placement passing scores, as well as a 58% drop in suspensions, in the 2011-12 school year. Padres y Jóvenes Unidos youth leaders spearheaded reforms that created North's restorative justice program, which is credited with spurring academic gains and is recognized as a national model. Read more>


Partner Spotlights

Communities Expose School Pushout Crisis Around the Nation

As part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s (DSC) Week of Action on School Pushout 2012, thousands of youth-, parent- and education leaders in cities around the country promoted commonsense solutions to the school pushout crisis. For example, Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) held a rally in Buffalo, NY, where Assistant Superintendent Will Keresztes announced that the District will be “shifting from a punitive system for addressing student misconduct to a restorative one base on interventions.”

Learn more about the events of Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE), Labor/Community Strategy Center, Youth Justice Coalition, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), Families and Friends in Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett STOPP), Power U Center for Social Change, Urban Youth Collaborative and other DSC members this week>

Denver Youth Leaders Partner with Schools and Police Department

Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU) hosted a meeting with Denver school and law enforcement officials to draft an agreement working toward a common goal of eliminating student suspensions and arrests. The agreement will include considerations on how PJU youth leaders might take on a role in training school resource officers, who are involved in school discipline. Read more>

Youth Together Supports Educators with Restorative Justice

Skyline High School in Oakland, CA, partnered with Youth Together (YT) in creating a Restorative Justice Team – comprised of administrators, YT staff and youth leaders – that will provide additional educator trainings and supports to improve student-teacher relationships. Read more>

Shaping the National Conversation

Associated Press, 10/2/12 – The former El Paso, TX, Superintendent pleaded guilty to profiling students who might perform poorly on high stakes accountability tests, and to systematically pushing them out of school by encouraging them to drop out, attend a charter school or obtain a GED elsewhere. The scheme included photographing students crossing the U.S.-Mexico border so they could be forced out on the grounds that they were living in Mexico and not within the district, and was designed to artificially inflate "academic standards, qualify for more federal money and ensure the superintendent got hefty bonuses."   Read more>

SFGate, 9/27/12 – Oakland voluntarily accepts five years of monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to correct practices that disciplined black students more severely than their white counterparts. Read more>

The Christian Science Monitor, 9/27/12 -- Among other successes nationwide, restorative practices at West Philadelphia High School (where Philadelphia Student Union has an active presence) helped instill a culture of peace and respect, and is being reintroduced there and in several other Philadelphia middle and high schools. Read more>

Chicago Tribune, 9/26/12 – School discipline practices and reporting are inconsistent across Illinois schools and districts, resulting in students of color disproportionately receiving harsher punishments. Read more>

Los Angeles Times, 9/22/12 – California Governor Jerry Brown signs into law a package of unprecedented bills that will expand alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, and keep school doors open for students who are truant or had involvement with the juvenile justice system. Read more

New York Times, 9/18/12 – Metal detectors in school buildings create a prison-like learning environment that diminishes students’ dignity. Read more>

Southern California Public Radio, 9/13/12 – Bolstered by The Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC), Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) and Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), Los Angeles county-, law enforcement- and school officials are learning national best practices in reducing student arrests. Read more>

Resources You Can Use

Families Unlocking Futures – Justice for Families and DataCenter released a report illustrating the experiences of youth trapped in the school-to-prison pipeline. Partner organizations including Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), the Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) and Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) gathered stories from system-involved youth and families to inform the report. Read more>

Race, Gender and the School-to-Prison Pipeline – The African American Policy Forum released the first report in a series examining how Black girls are uniquely affected by extreme school discipline, but are often ignored in related discussions and solutions. Learn more

The Urgency of Now – The Schott Foundation for Public Education released a new report documenting the status of Black and Latino boys across the country, and urging solutions – including a national moratorium on out-of-school suspensions – to end their systematic pushout and lockout from educational opportunities. Read more>

City Leadership to Promote Black Male Achievement - National League of Cities released a municipal action guide for mayors and city officials with strategies to close educational and occupational disparities between Black males and their peers. Promising approaches include establishing in-school alternatives to suspension and expulsion, and policies to encourage and ensure that every student attends school every day. Read more>

Grantmaking for Racial Equity & LGBTQ Justice: Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy – Funders for LGBTQ Issues highlights innovative strategies of the Gill Foundation (JFSF member) and Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Equality and Opportunity Fund (JFSF ally), as well as JFSF ally Gay-Straight Alliance Network, for greater impact on racial equity and LGBTQ justice issues. Read more>

Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-11 – The National Juvenile Justice Network chronicled recent youth justice reforms throughout the country including new laws, administrative rules and practice changes that aim to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Learn more>


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is accepting proposals for its Forward Promise initiative to promote opportunities for the health and success of boys and young men of color. Eligible projects include ones that implement alternative school discipline approaches that do not push students out of school. Learn more>

Advancement Project seeks video submissions from students for its I Dream A School campaign, on what high quality education looks like to them. See videos submitted to-date and learn more>

Power U Center for Social Change (Miami, FL) seeks a Director. Learn more>

Philadelphia Student Union (Philadelphia, PA) seeks a Youth Organizer. Learn more>

Family Independence Initiative seeks nominations for its Torchlight Prize 2012 from self-organized projects that work to uplift local communities. Learn more>

Upcoming Events

Oct 9-12  |  Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families conference (TX)
Investing in Promising Futures for All
Open to all grantmakers:  Conference includes Parent Organizing for Schools that Educate (Not Incarcerate) – a session featuring a Texas Organizing Project (TOP) parent leader, organizer and school board ally, moderated by JFSF. Learn more>

Oct 17  |  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation webinar
Understanding the Lobbying Rules for Foundation-Funded Initiatives
Explore the lobbying guidelines around foundation-funded projects, and the value and mechanics of different policy asks. Register here>

Oct 24-26   |   Grantmakers for Education conference (NY)
Embracing the Power of Education
Open to all grantmakers:  Conference includes a session with Padres y Jóvenes Unidos and allies examining efforts to boost graduation rates in Colorado by rolling back zero tolerance school policies. Learn more>

For more information about Just and Fair Schools Fund,
please contact Don Cipriani at
dcipriani [at] publicinterestprojects [dot] org.

Access previous newsletter issues here.

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