On March 15th, 2013, InnerCity Struggle hosted a lunch-time event at Mendez Learning Center in Boyle Heights to raise awareness about Restorative Justice policies. Friday’s event was part of an Educational Justice Week program where youth organizers from InnerCity Struggle have conducted classroom workshops to students at Mendez Learning Center focused on the impacts of the ‘school to prison pipeline’ and to promote higher education.
Student leaders of InnerCity Struggle’s youth component, United Students, are working on a “School Climate Student Bill of Rights” campaign with a coalition of Los Angeles County organizations called Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS). The campaign is focused on reducing the rate of suspensions and expulsions that disproportionately affect young students of color, particularly young men of color.
“We know that harsh disciplinary policies, like pushing students out from class-time for not wearing their uniform, don’t work, but instead harm us and our academic success,” expressed Victor Lopez, a 10th grade student at Mendez Learning Center.
“This week we heard Mendez students say they want the ‘Student Bills of Rights’ for all students in LAUSD! We demand to be supported and empowered, not pushed out!” stated Lopez.
As an alternative to current disciplinary policies, youth from InnerCity Struggle and BSS are proposing a healthier and more supportive school environment that will put students on a path toward graduation and future success. Key elements of the “School Climate Student Bill of Rights” include alternative to suspensions, Restorative Justice Practices, decreasing the role of police in schools and wrap-around services that will facilitate student wellness and success.