This October 3-11th, several Utah community and advocacy groups are coming together to promote awareness on school pushout, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the disturbing national and state trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The National Week of Action on School Pushout is the product of the national organization Dignity in Schools. This year’s theme is “Invest in Public Education Not Prison Cultivation.” Each day of the week, groups and individuals are encouraged to distribute information about the problem using social media tools. The campaign further strives to raise up the voices of students and parents and provide avenues for self-advocacy. Topics for the week include shifting funding from school police to counselors, rethinking discipline to focus on positive techniques rather than suspension and expulsion, and engaging parents and students in decision-making about discipline policies. The Utah groups are also hosting a free event for students, parents, and advocates at the Utah Law & Justice building (645 South 200 East, Salt Lake) on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. This event is not intended for the media.
“As a teenager I believe it is best, especially at an early age, if you are able to help a youth better themselves rather than punish them without an explanation or lesson taught. Punishment without explanation can create anger, loneliness, distrust, and low self-esteem towards not only school, but any sort of work,” says a Salt Lake Peer Court volunteer youth. Regarding the importance of this issue, the volunteer continues, “If youth are ‘given up on’ anywhere else (such as at home) and then also at school, it can create doubt and instability.”