OUR ADVOCACY EFFORTS TO IMPROVE EDUCATION for ALL, FROM ACCESS to Quality Schools TO EXPULSION DEFENSE
Rethink Summit: MARSE#discipline
The ReThink Summit coalition discovered that the Michigan Administrative Rules on Special Education (MARSE) incorrectly stated that Michigan had no rules for consideration during a discipline determination.
After testimony before the Michigan State Board of Education, the Board amended MARSE to include a bolded reference to and relevant text of the ReThink legislation.
Rethink Summit: DIGNITY IN SCHOOLS#discipline #lgbtqia+
In 2014 the US Departments of Justice and Education issued joint guidance for schools regarding the reformation of school discipline practices that disproportionately affect students from minority populations, e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, etc... This guidance was rescinded in 2018.
The ReThink Summit coalition asked the Michigan Department of Education to adopt a resolution that states it will continue to follow the principles established in the 2014 guidance. They adopted the resolution on March
Rethink Summit: Letter to MI-SJP#discipline
The US Department of Justice and SAMHSA created the School-Justice Partnership (SJP) Project to to enhance collaboration and coordination among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement, and juvenile justice officials to help students stay in school and prevent negative outcomes for youth and communities.
Our first collective effort under our ReThink Summit initiative was to inform Michigan's SJP of our experiences with uneven implementation of the new ReThink legislation.
ACCESS TO LITERACY #literacy
In 2016, Detroit students sued the State of Michigan for their failure to provide meaningful access to literacy to Detroit public schools' students.
During the case's appeal to the Sixth Circuit, Street Democracy filed an amicus brief on behalf 482Forward, a parent-student education advocacy organization.
The best way to demonstrate the lack of access to literacy and its impact on students was to put front and center the words and art, poetry and protests of 482Forward's members.
We believe ours to be the first voice brief of this kind.
RETHINK SUMMIT #schooltoprisionpipeline #discipline
The lack of response to our 2017 Letter to Schools re ReThink Discipline led us to believe that without a concerted organizing effort restorative practices will not get implemented. So we convened, and now lead, a coalition of education advocacy organizations to speak with one voice in this arena, dubbed the Rethink Discipline Summit.
At our semi-annual summits, we identify practices and practices advocates are seeing and experiencing and brainstorm collaborative actions we can take to improve best practices and affect policy change.
LETTER TO Educators#rethink
Our first step toward ensuring implementation of the ReThink Discipline bills was to submit a letter to local and state actors advising them of the new laws. The letter explained the law's procedural and substantive protections intended to reduce the use of long-term suspension and expulsion, encouraged schools to update their policies, and also offered technical assistance in implementing those changes. The letter was signed and supported by six other organizations with a vested interest in the issue.
EXPULSION DEFENSE & RETHINK DISCIPLINE #schooltoprisonpipeline #rethink
During our work with homeless folk, we saw first hand the connection between denial of education and future incarceration and homelessness. We also saw that children facing school discipline were not informed of their right to bring counsel or advocate, to have a hearing when discipline exceeds 10 days out of school, and to appeal a discipline determination.
In 2016, we decided to step into the education space. We started by representing kids in expulsion hearings, and pushing for restorative practices during discipline determinations. Our efforts, led by the ACLU and the Student Advocacy Center, assisted in the passage of the ReThink Discipline legislation (Public Acts 360-366 of 2016), which ended zero tolerance policies in favor of restorative practices, see MCL 380.1310-1311.
See the graphic below to see how a restorative practices works to keep kids in schools.