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Young People’s Vision for Safe, Supportive, and Inclusive Schools

October 1, 2017

This policy brief provides a blueprint for safe and supportive schools. The young people who navigate interpersonal conflict in schools and experience harm due to harsh policing and disciplinary policies, are uniquely situated to lead the dialogue about developing truly safe and just learning environments. This report highlights priorities from the Young People's School Justice Agenda – the vision for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools developed by youth leaders organizing to transform their schools and communities. Supportive approaches to improving school climate are proven to be more effective at helping students address the root causes of conflict and reducing school infractions, thus actually creating safer schools than punitive policies such as suspensions and policing.When young people close their eyes and think about what they need when they are feeling bullied, need to solve conflict, or want their learning environments to be inclusive, they do not imagine metal detectors and police officers. They imagine safe spaces where they can receive support from staff trained in social and emotional development. When schools allow students to lead efforts to transform school culture and climate, they develop fairness committees, expand peer mediation, build restorative justice teams, and create safe spaces where peers who feel isolated or bullied can build strong and trusting relationships. Students are changing the paradigm of discipline and punishment and advocating for schools to respond to the needs of all students, but especially the most vulnerable students, by pulling every student into systems of support and refusing to expand practices that treat them as disposable.

The $746 Million A Year School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Ineffective, Discriminatory, and Costly Process of Criminalizing New York City Students

April 20, 2017

This report, released by the Center for Popular Democracy and Urban Youth Collaborative, reveals the staggering yearly economic impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City, $746.8 million. In addition, it presents a bold "Young People's School Justice Agenda," which calls on the City to divest from over-policing young people, and invest in supportive programs and opportunities for students to thrive. New evidence of the astronomical fiscal and social costs of New York's school-to-prison pipeline demand urgent action by policymakers. The young people who are most at risk of harm due to harsh policing and disciplinary policies are uniquely situated to lead the dialogue about developing truly safe and equitable learning environments. This report highlights the vision for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools developed by these youth leaders.

Get Us To College: Proven Strategies for Helping NYC students Navigate the College Process

October 22, 2013

The Urban Youth Collaborative strives for social and economic justice throughout our communities -- overcoming obstacles to make sure youth voices are heard and youth empowerment is emphasized. They are committed to building a strong youth voice, a voice that can ensure high schools prepare students to go to college, earn a living wage, and actively participate in our democracy. In the subsequent pages is a set of proposals to ensure that high schools serving low-income youth of color meet the new Department of Education standards for college readiness. We offer multiple ways to pursue each goal, recommend that combinations of the aspects of models we present be considered.The report is organized to share what we know about why items on our platform are important and to give information to help fellow students, education advocates, and the NYC DOE work toward implementing changes.

No Closer to College: NYC High School Students Call for Real School Transformation, Not School Closings

April 1, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg's Department of Education (DOE) has focused its systemic school improvement efforts on one key strategy -- closing poorly performing high schools. The DOE has privileged school closure as its primary school improvement policy, as opposed to major initiatives to transform struggling schools from within. If this policy continues, more than 65,000 students - more students than the entire Boston public school system - will have had their high school experience marked by school closure. Because the DOE has a responsibility to ensure that those students do not become policy casualties, it must invest as much effort in ensuring a rich, rigorous, college-preparatory education for students in the final years of a closing high school as in developing and nurturing the new small schools they continue to create.This report examines what happened to students in the 21 schools that have completed their phase-out since 2000, when the DOE announced the first school closings, and predicts the destructive impact that school closings may have on students in the high schools that may be at risk of closing next.