Youth-created solutions to address the root causes of school violence without pushing students into the criminal justice system.
PLATFORM CAMPAIGN FOR NONVIOLENT SCHOOLS he Campaign for Nonviolent Schools is a youth-led effort to improve climate and safety in our schools without pushing students into the criminal justice system. It was founded in winter of 2009 by student leaders in the Philadelphia Student Union from over 20 neighborhood high school and middle schools. It is rooted in the teachings of the power of nonviolent action in the tradition of MLK, Ella Baker, and Gandhi. Now boasting eleven youth-led and youth-driven organizations (and counting), the Campaign engages at the individual, school, and systemic levels. The Campaign is building a new movement of actively nonviolent student leaders in our schools; changing the perception of young people in the media and the community; promoting a vision of schools as sources of Nonviolent Power, and driving down to the causes of the systemic roots of violence. STEERING COMMITTEE Attic Youth Center Juntos Mazzoni Center Philadelphia Freedom Schools Philadelphia Student Union Philadelphia Student Union University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia Youth Art and Self- Empowerment Project Youth United for Change STUDENT VOICE IN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS onviolent Schools ensure meaningful student engagement in decision making and school operations. They clearly demonstrate that student feedback is valued and acted upon. Nonviolent Schools seek youth input on topics like school budgets, curriculum, and violence prevention. The School District has made strides in increasing student engagement through avenues like Citywide Student Government, however there is still more to be done. • • • • • • • Ensure diverse student representation on the school safety team from students varied in ethnic background, academic performance, and disciplinary history. Create and maintain mechanisms at schools to get student input on policies and plans including advisory listening sessions, school-wide surveys, student focus groups, and other means. Create policy that calls for student participation in the hiring of principals and teachers. Allow students to provide feedback to the teachers and administrators at their school in a formalized way. Ensure that students participate on site selection and principal hiring committees. Ensure that there is an effective and transparent complaint process that students can follow if they feel that their school has violated their rights or not adequately addressed their safety concerns. Implement an annual process for students to evaluate school police and their impact on school climate. • College Ready Education Plan: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/learning/Pages/2010-reliable-measures-effective-teaching.aspx All Photos: © Tim Moyer DISCIPLINE onviolent schools take a proactive role to prevent problems instead of just being reactive. They build up young people instead of tearing them down. Exclusion from school and arrests of students on school grounds are a last resort. Discipline is restorative in nature. The School District has made strides in the introduction of peer mediation, measures to address bullying, and by removing Zero Tolerance from their discipline policy, but there is still more to be done. • • • • • • • • • • • Shift resources from policing and surveillance technology to evidence-based programs and practices that increase personalization and support including, but not limited to, Student Success Centers, increasing counselor to student ratio, and school based restorative practices. Conduct restorative practices training for principals, leadership teams, teachers, and staff in all middle and high schools. Allow students to identify and select meaningful community service opportunities as a form of restitution. Implement annual student-led communication and trust building sessions with all those involved in school safety matters at every middle school and high school. Ensure that school-based staff are trained to report and intervene, using restorative practices, in ongoing patterns of bias, abuse, or bullying of students at the hands of other students or staff members. Restrict the use of physical restraint of student by school staff to circumstances in which there is an imminent threat of bodily harm. Set ongoing targets for reduction of school-based arrests, out of school suspensions, and disciplinary referrals. To reduce school-based arrests, out of school suspensions, and disciplinary referrals, convene a committee of stakeholders, including students, to create a graduated discipline matrix. Limit the use of out of school suspensions to circumstances where there is a legitimate threat to school safety. Distinguish and clarify the difference between instances of “reporting” and “referral” to law enforcement. Set targets on limiting referrals. Keep responsibility for reporting incidents to the PPD into the hands of trained principals. Students and School Police: http://www.phillystudentunion.org/phillystudentunion/press_archive/06.15.09_Philadelphia_Tribune.pdf Safety with Dignity: http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-annenberg-institute-release-report-successful-and-safe-nyc-schools-say-no-aggressive-poli Safer Saner Schools: http://www.safersanerschools.org/Research-and-Testimonials.html Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations: http://wideningthecircle.org Policing in Schools: Developing a Governance Document For School Resource Officers in K-21 Schools: http://www.aclu.org/racialjustice/policing-schools-developing-governance-document-school-resource-officers-k-12-schools STUDENT SUPPORTS & STUDENT SERVICES onviolent schools create community. They motivate all students toward their own success and help them understand their intrinsic value. Climate improves when young people receive individualized attention, and when they don’t fall through the cracks. Resources and personnel must be in place to increase personalization and ensure stable, strong bonds between students and staff members. Young people can and should be empowered to assist each other to achieve. Nonviolent schools are genuine “community schools.” They address multiple needs in students’ lives. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Institute youth-created peer mentoring programs in middle and high schools that pair older students with younger students who need to get on track. Engage every student in middle school and high school in creating a personal achievement plan. CNS SUCCESS: Train bilingual counseling assistants as quality interpreters. Provide adequate interpretation and translation for ELL students. Allocate one counselor for every 100 students. Counselors can assist students with their personal achievement plans. Create a school-by-school audit of student needs to determine services needed. Incorporate community-led anti-oppression and anti-bias learning for school staff to better identify and respond to bias. Connect students to programs that provide college access and career preparation. Disciplinary schools should have grade appropriate curriculum that holds students to the same standards as traditional public schools. Ensure that every school has a balance of new and more experienced teachers. Shift toward smaller learning environments – smaller schools, small learning communities and schools within a school of no more than 250 students. Empower local school councils at all schools that can act as liaisons for community service opportunities as well as community-led training. Use data from school audits to reallocate resources toward behavioral, physical, and emotional health professionals. A Qualitative Study of What’s Helping Philadelphia Students Succeed in Grades 6-12: http://www.researchforaction.org/publication-listing/?id=36 School District Policy 102 Multiracial-Multicultural-Gender Education: http://www.thenotebook.org/fall-2002/021473/policy-102district%E2%80%99sstated-commitment-equity-all How Thirteen NYC Schools Bring Low-Performing Ninth-Graders to Timely Graduation and College Enrollment: http://www.annenberginstitute. org/products/BTO.php : Closing the Teacher Quality Gap in Philadelphia: http://www.researchforaction.org/publication-listing/?id=250 Progress and Challenges of Philadelphia’s Small High Schools: http://www.researchforaction.org/projects/?id=5 CLASSROOM ENGAGEMENT onviolent Schools engage every student as a potential leader. They work to meet each student where they are and ignite in them a love of learning. In Nonviolent Schools, every young person is engaged in critical thinking and encouraged to understand and interact with their community and the world. • • • • • • Ensure that a variety of elective options and career-oriented courses are available at all neighborhood high schools, both during the school day and after school hours. Guarantee that students receiving remediation have a balanced curriculum that includes engaging and relevant course work. Implement an ethnic studies curriculum at the high school level that allows for crosscultural learning of American history that is inclusive of all ethnic groups represented in the school district. Prioritize hands-on and project-based learning and courses that develop criticalthinking skills. Fully implement Policy 102, that calls for Mutliracial-Multicultural-Gender Education in schools Provide classroom engagement and conflict resolution training for all teachers. Project Based Learning: http://www.bie.org CITY & STATE RECOMMENDATIONS onviolent Schools are a part of nonviolent communities. To achieve nonviolent communities, every young person must be given the chance to succeed. In Nonviolent Communities, young people are guaranteed equal access to quality education and are not pushed through the adult criminal justice system. For the City: • Do not arrest young people for misdemeanor offenses. • • Require city police to attend community led anti-bias, anti-oppression training. • Keep criminal charges against young people in the juvenile justice system. • Ensure equal access to education for all young people in detention, both in adult and juvenile facilities. • Develop and implement re-entry services to assist young people in transitioning back into the community from both juvenile and adult incarceration. For the State: • Further define/ limit the definition of a weapon in Act 26 that defined weapons for the purposes of reporting in schools. • Repeal or amend Act 33, the amendment to the PA Juvenile Act that allows young people over 15 to be tried directly in adult court, so that criminal cases involving young people originate in juvenile court. • Promote the use of restorative practices in the juvenile justice system. • Set state budgets that prioritize education over incarceration and provide the resources that cities need. • Repeal Act 88, which sends young people who have been adjudicated in Philadelphia’s juvenile or adult court system directly to disciplinary schools without the same due process that young people receive in the rest of Pennsylvania.