Students to Mayor Emanuel: “Put Us on a Path to College, Not Prison”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationStudents and elected officials shared original research and personal experiences with school discipline across Chicago during a rally held last Monday in front of the Cook County Juvenile Center to combat Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s defense on extreme policies at neighborhood and charter schools according to Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE.)

Student speakers from VOYCE, a youth-led education reform organization, and elected officials including Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia, State Senator Willie Delgado, and State Representative Kim Dubuclet, called on Mayor Emanuel to end extreme school discipline practices that are forcing Black and Latino youth out of school and onto the streets.

Original research by VOYCE shows that, despite research showing the detrimental effects of harsh discipline on student learning and safety, the overuse of suspensions, expulsions, arrests, transfers and other measures like fines is a continued problem at both neighborhood and charter schools:

  • Ninety-four percent of all disciplinary actions issued were for offenses that did not pose a serious and immediate threat to safety.
  • Chicago students lost 306,731 days of school last year as a result of these actions.

“All schools that get taxpayer dollars should be held accountable to educating all of us,” said Victor Alquicira, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School. “As the example of the fines at Noble shows us, without transparency schools can get away with using discipline to force out the students who need the most support.”

Following the press conference, 50 youth went out to five neighborhoods across the city to begin collecting signatures on a national petition to Mayor Emanuel. “To put us on a path to college, not a path to prison, we need a new Student Code of Conduct and a common sense approach to discipline at our neighborhood and charter schools,” said Gabriela Hernandez, a junior at Kelvyn Park High School. “Do what’s right, Mayor Emanuel. End the use of extreme discipline at all our schools.”

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