Efforts to Break the School to Prison Pipeline Are Working

Just one out-of-school suspension doubles the chances a student will fail a course, drop-out of school, and end up incarcerated. A combination of school policies, practices and a lack of alternative supports has perpetuated oppression and discrimination for generations.

In collaboration with key community partners Citizen Action of New York, Alliance for Quality Education, Teen Empowerment, the Community Task Force on School Climate, and the Rochester Area Community Foundation, TCA released Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline: How School Climate Supports Academic Success", an analysis of the past five years, following the introduction of two substantial disciplinary reform efforts. This includes the new code of conduct, a progressive discipline policy enacted by the Board of Education in 2016, and implementation of restorative practices (with significant gran -funding), that utilizes specially trained social workers and teachers to shift district culture towards relationship-building and away from exclusionary discipline.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Suspensions decreased to 7,528 in 2017-2018, a 33 percent drop since 2015-2016 the last school year before the new code of conduct was passed;

  • Course failures decreased by 2,066 (28%) among suspended students in 2016-2017, the first year after the new code of conduct was passed. Course failures among students who were not suspended did not change significantly, during the same time period;

  • Course failures dropped the most (1,229) among students suspended longer than 10 days, suggesting the importance of reducing long-term suspensions;

  • The rate of suspension for all major demographic groups fell after the new code of conduct was adopted, however, racial and demographic disparities remained unchanged;

"It's clear that progressive policies combined with a restorative approach works to reduce suspensions and improve academics," said Eamonn Scanlon, Education Policy Analyst at The Children's Agenda. "We feel strongly that restorative coaches, leading the culture change across the district, are the key to long-term success."

Our top recommendation in the report is for the RCSD Board of Education to find a way to maintain the 10 restorative coaching positions, created three years ago through a State grant, and protect the building supports like help zones and mediation rooms at School 17. After this school-year ends, the Board will need to identify an alternative funding stream to ensure the critical services provided by these professionals continues.

Additional recommendations include:

  • Adopt restorative practices district-wide

  • Ban suspensions for K-2

  • Limit long-term suspensions to no more than 20 days

  • Share data with ROC the Future and issue quarterly public data reports

  • Adopt the School Climate Advisory Committee's recommendations

All data were provided by RCSD and interviews were conducted by members of the Community Task Force on School Climate.


Featured Media Coverage:

Democrat & Chronicle: Suspensions down, way down, in Rochester schools thanks to new approaches

WXXI News: new city school policy on suspensions is working, but continued focus needed

WHEC 10: Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline

A Powerful Early Childhood Advocacy Day in Albany 

Sponsored by the Empire State Campaign for Child Care and Winning Beginning NY, The Children's Agenda and a busload (thanks to the support of the Brighter Days Foundation!) of community partners, parents, providers, and advocates made their way to Albany on February 4th for Early Childhood Advocacy Day. Over 30 local advocates and 200 individuals from across NY participated in legislative visits and attended a rally at the Capitol. Together this group represented more than 75 organizations -- advocates for children and families, child care providers, parents, faith and union leaders from across the state. Their message was clear:

  • Working families cannot afford quality care without state subsidies;
  • Qualified child care educators are leaving the field because they are not paid living wages and benefits;
  • Providers struggle to stay open as operating costs – including the increasing minimum wage - outpace subsidy reimbursement and what parents can afford to pay and still make ends meet. 

Join the growing base of supporters on social media calling for equitable access to quality child care for all children and working families, and for a sustainable income for all child care providers.

2,179 letters delivered calling for Early Intervention funding reforms

In the fall of 2018, ROC the Future, individiduals, congregations, and organizations throughout Monroe County joined forces to call for change. Our local Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education systems crisis has been building for years. Rising numbers of infants and toddlers (1 out of 3 in Monroe County) are forced to wait at least 30 days, sometimes months, before seeing a physical, occupational, or speech therapist. A number of large and small service providers had closed developmental services programs in 2016-2018 due to a low State reimbursement rate, which resulted in a shortage of teachers and therapists. In response, the community united to demand higher reimburesment rates and systemic reforms.

Letters were signed by individuals in 52 diverse faith-based organizations in Monroe County who participated in TCA's Interfaith Weekend, as well as by individuals, parents, and service providers, urging State leaders to address this critical issue. During Early Childhood Advocacy Day on February 4th, members of The Children's Agenda's team presented thousands of letters to NYS Department of Health officials. 

The Children's Agenda continues to stay committed to the alarming number of infants and toddlers identified as needing services who are sitting on wait lists because there are not enough providers. Please join with us by clicking below to call on our State Legislators to make additional investments in New York's Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education Services so that our youngest children obtain the critical supports they need to thrive and grow to their fullest potential.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a landmark consensus study on child poverty that confirms that child poverty is a solvable problem when there is the political will to address it.

The U.S. Child Poverty Action Group is excited to announce the launch of End Child Poverty U.S., a national campaign to establish a target to cut child poverty in half within ten years and eliminating it within 20 years. It is only through collective action that we can make progress. End Child Poverty U.S. is designed as a resource hub and platform to elevate the voices of those working to end child poverty around the nation.

To learn more about the study and the campaign, visit www.endchildpovertyus.org. 

Share your Story!

We are seeking stories from you and members of the community regarding your experiences with Early Intervention and/or Preschool Special Education Services. If you are a parent or know of a parent who'd be interested in sharing their story, please contact Kristen Rogers, Advocacy Coordinator, at kristen@thechildrensagenda.org

Building Strong Foundations: Racial Inequity in Policies that Impact Infants, Toddlers, and Families

Over the last two years, national partners at The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and ZERO TO THREE developed comprehensive infant-toddler policy resources through the Building Strong Foundations: Advancing Comprehensive Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families project. This resource explores racial disparities, including the policies that drive them, among infants and toddlers and their families. It highlights key examples in recent history and their continued consequences for young children of color and their families. The paper concludes with recommendations to ensure new or reformed policies that reduce racial disparities such as: increasing investments in programs that help families meet their basic needs. For many years, programs that help meet the needs of children and families from poor, low-income, or otherwise vulnerable backgrounds have been grossly underfunded, affecting access to services and undermining quality. To read the full brief...

12 Gifts, 12 Months: TCA's Reoccuring Gift Program

Monthly recurring gifts allow you to divide your gift to The Children's Agenda into manageable increments through convenient automatic deductions from your credit card or checking account. By becoming a member of our recurring giving program, you can increase your giving impact to TCA and provide the organization with a critically important, reliable source of income. Your recurring gift will help us meet the annual costs of supporting essential activities and advocacy for children.

Thank you January and February Supporters!

Benjamin Mudrick, Esq., Bill Carpenter, Todd Krauss, Elizabeth Laidlaw, Kimberly Federico, Dr. Ernest Krug III, Tom and Janet Fink, Karen Walker, Rueben Epstein and Jody Siegle, Mary Stevens, Wendy Lane, Rabbi Alan Katz, Jill Cicero, Esq., Judith Boyd, Susan Wehle, Ruth Morton, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Hallowell Fund.

585.256.2620 | info@thechildrensagenda.org 
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