Hope for Students is a national movement of people of faith committed to eliminating disparities in our public education system, especially along lines of race and class. We believe all God’s children deserve a world-class education. For this reason, we also believe that no child should be punished more often, or more severely, in our schools due to the color of their skin.
That’s why it’s not okay that black students nationwide are 3.9x more likely than white students to be suspended. To move our nation forward, our schools need to shift away from punitive discipline models that harm all students, and disproportionately target students of color, towards restorative models proven to actually improve outcomes while repairing broken relationships.
The Trump Administration has chosen a different path. Last year, despite the strong advocacy of a broad coalition of faith and civil rights organizations—including our Open Letter signed by more than 25,000 people of faith—U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos repealed existing Federal school discipline guidelines aimed at protecting students from harmful practices.
If the Federal government won’t protect our most vulnerable students, our state governments must act. That’s why in 2020 Hope for Students is launching school discipline advocacy campaigns in five states (Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maryland) with the potential to expand beyond that. We’ve chosen these five states based on a variety of factors, including geographic diversity and a landscape analysis of relevant school discipline statutes.
This new campaign has three primary components: 1) FIVE Areas of Policy Change; 2) School Discipline Report Cards; 3) Advocacy Letters to State Legislators and Governors.
1. FIVE AREAS OF POLICY CHANGE
Firstly, across these states we’ve identified FIVE Areas of Policy Change that experts say could make a big difference in eliminating discipline disparities and moving towards restorative models, including: 1) Increased Transparency and Reporting; 2) Embracing Restorative Models; 3) Reforming Suspension Guidelines; 4) Improving Counselor-to-Student Ratios; 5) Banning Corporal Punishment (and yes, we were shocked to learn that 19 states haven’t yet banned it).
2. SCHOOL DISCIPLINE REPORT CARDS
Secondly, we’ve created a School Discipline Report Card for each of these five states and given each state a letter grade in each of these five areas of policy change—to make it easy for you to track and see, at a glance, whether these states get a passing or failing grade.
Not from one of the five states below? Check back soon for a National Report Card.
Find your state’s School Discipline Report Card >>
3. ADVOCACY LETTERS TO STATE LEADERS
Thirdly, creating these much-needed changes for students will require strong advocacy at a state level, especially from communities of faith. This is where YOU come in.
Do you agree that suspending black students more often than white students is wrong? It’s time to let your leaders know. We’ve created these Advocacy Letters to State Legislators and Governors for you to personalize, sign and send to your elected leaders at a state level.
By adding your name and home address we’ll be able to target this personalized letter directly to YOUR state representative, state senator, and governor. You’ll also be first in line to learn of additional opportunities to advocate on this issue once the legislative session is underway.
Not from one of the five states below? Check back soon for a national advocacy letter.
Find the Advocacy Letter for your state leaders >>