The OTL Campaign Blog

Friday October 26th, 2012

Driven by the simple belief that students are the ones in the classroom and they should be asked about their learning experiences, advocates from 10 states (including many OTL allies) came together at a convening at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to develop messaging and organizing strategies to push for student input in the decisions affecting their education and teacher evaluations. Already in a few states, there are policies that give students a voice in the classroom, and many other states and districts would like to change their own policies through student input.

Thursday October 25th, 2012

According to a new report from the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, young women now make up the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice system, with more than 300,000 arrests and criminal charges every year. If that wasn't bad enough, most of these girls are committing nothing more serious than skipping class, breaking curfew or running away from home. But rather than helping these young women deal with the underlying reasons for these misbehaviors, our society is criminalizing them, marginalizing them and denying them access to future opportunities.

Thursday October 25th, 2012

Today the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the city of Meridian, Miss.; Lauderdale County, Miss.; judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the state of Mississippi for helping "operate a school-to-prison pipeline in which the rights of children in Meridian are repeatedly and routinely violated."

Michael Holzman, Senior Research Consultant, Schott Foundation for Public Education
Thursday October 25th, 2012

Education advocates from across the country would like to have a word with Florida's State Board of Education after it released new achievement benchmarks for its students based on their race and ethnicity. It is outrageous to have different goals for children whose skin color or ancestry differs. The only message this disparate policy sends is that the state believes its okay to settle for something less than high achievement from all its students.

Thomas Beebe, Project Director, Opportunity to Learn - Wisconsin
Wednesday October 24th, 2012

Let's do the math: Cut enough funding from Wisconsin's schools and other public services and you will eventually, through lack of spending, end up with a state budget surplus. But rather than shuffle that surplus off to the state's Rainy Day Fund, let's acknowledge that all those cuts have our schools looking under the weather. We need to reinvest that money now, because today it isn't just raining in WI schools, it's downpouring. 

Saturday October 20th, 2012

Hats off to the passionate youth advocates at Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), who are the subject of a new documentary about the persistence of racism in our nation's systems of education, health and criminal justice... and the advocates working to end it. In addition to these grassroots voices, the documentary will also feature academics such as Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, anti-racism educator Tim Wise, and prominent school discipline scholar Russell Skiba.

Friday October 19th, 2012

Restorative justice, peer courts, an end to out-of-school suspensions... This isn't "touchy-feely" stuff. These are real, systemic solutions to the pushout crisis in school discipline that is barring students from the classroom and disproportionately denying students of color and students with disabilities a fair and substantive opportunity to learn. A recent article in Education Week takes an in-depth look at how districts across the country are beginning to integrate these new approaches and the positive effect they're having on school climate and student success.

Friday October 19th, 2012

A passionate group of advocates from across the country rallied in Washington D.C. last month to protest school closures and file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The "Journey for Justice" event was just one of a rising tide of opposition to the unjust practice of closing down failing schools. According to an article in Education Week, the practice "has become the strategy of first instance, not of last resort," and is disproportionately affecting schools in communities of color. 

Kim M. Janey, Senior Project Director for Massachusetts Advocates for Children & A Lead Organizer for the Community Coalition for Excellence, Equity, and Engagement
Tuesday October 16th, 2012

A new coalition of advocacy, civil rights and social justice organizations and parents has emerged in the debate over a new student assignment plan in Boston Public Schools. For the Community Coalition for Excellence, Equity, and Engagement, the issue is ensuring access to high quality schools for all Boston students in every neighborhood. Given Boston's history with desegregation in the 1970s, the nation is watching to see if the city can once and for all break free of its ugly past or whether it will be doomed to repeat history by denying children of color access to quality educational opportunities.

By Linda Charmaraman, Wellesley Centers for Women
Tuesday October 16th, 2012

When we set out to create the Wellesley Centers for Women project “Promoting Public Awareness of the Road to Educational Equity for Girls of Color,” our mission was to create a public forum to discuss the ongoing educational equity issues for girls of color in the Boston area. We traveled from Dorchester to Roxbury, from the superintendent offices of the Boston Public Schools to the Opportunity to Learn Education Summit in Washington, DC. Along the way, we met with girls who were tired of negative stereotypes about their achievement capacities and who had a lot to say about the lack of attention paid to them by the district. They were so proud to give us tours of their schools, and we heard what their mentors had to say about them and the broader issues surrounding the opportunity gap.

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