As a coalition, the Dignity in Schools Campaign California (DSC CA) is building grassroots leadership, movement, and political solidarity across the state to cast a new vision for public education, in which school safety shifts away from a culture of punishment to one of transformation, restoration, and healing. This vision is rooted in our shared and critical understanding of history, and our collective stand to repair its harm and say “Never Again”.
Our Never Again
Our “Never Again” is rooted in the Black-led Reconstruction and slave revolt that brought down chattel slavery and opened up the first public schools. Our “Never Again” abolished Jim Crow education and led the Chicano Blowouts. Organized by students, parents, and their broader communities, our “Never Again” birthed liberatory movements for ethnic studies, critical pedagogy, bilingual education, restorative justice and other transformative educational practices. Today, our “Never Again” rejects the school to prison and deportation pipeline and works to build a movement from the ground up, in California and nationwide.
As local, state and federal officials call to further police and militarize our schools, DSC CA rejects these false solutions and works to build a long-term movement with communities, students, and parents across the state. This movement is committed to ending all forms of violence in our schools, including those associated with policing, criminalization, and institutional racism, as well as those associated with guns.
Removing Cops From Schools
The Central Coast Movement Building (CCMB) team built a coalition of supporters, parents and students in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District focused on School Resource Officers in their schools. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District stretches from the city of Marina to the north to the city of Monterey to the south, and encompasses the communities of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Sand City, and Seaside. The campus as of the 2017-18 enrolled 10,000 students. Thanks to the CCMB organizing efforts and intensified work with community to address policing on campus, we forced the school district to reexamine the role of police in schools and successfully stopped Marina and Seaside from hiring police to patrol their campuses.
Organizing Against Cops On Campus
In Oakland, the Black Organizing Project (BOP) knows that the school-to-prison pipeline is a direct response to the rise of Black Power and a direct attack on young people. In 2011 the Black Organizing Project formed the Bettering Our Schools System (BOSS) Campaign in response to the murder of Raheim Brown by the Oakland School Police Department (OSPD).
The campaign has been working to shift the narrative that police equals safety by calling for the full elimination of school police by 2020 and demanding that schools not contract with law enforcement. While we have been able to see some wins from temporary reforms such as —having a complaint process, eliminating suspensions for willful defiance and reducing the police budget— we know that it will take a complete transformation of the public education systems culture to ensure schools are sanctuaries for the most impacted youth.
Since 2011 we have continued to be on the ground working with Black parents & students who have been negatively affected by the school to prison pipeline to seek transformative alternatives that will shift the culture in schools to one that is nonpunitive and values the lives of all children.
This is the way we build solidarity – aligning efforts across politically diverse regions and contexts to ensure that Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, poor/working class communities of color across the state are included in our movement. We are collectively aiming toward a “North Star” and working on the ground, community to community, to share our struggle, capacity, political lessons, and strategies to win change in even the most conservative of regions.
National Week of Action
Starting October 20th through October 28th, DSC CA allies in the Central Valley, Bay Area, Central Coast, Los Angeles, and Inland Valley regions Starting October 20th through will participate in the 9th annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout. This year’s theme, “Counselors Not Cops,” sends a resounding message to disrupt misplaced priorities and over-reliance on school police as the “only” solution to school safety.
Our DSC CA events aim to dismantle law enforcement’s relationship with Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, and poor/working-class schools.
Community-based engagement and forums will be held on racial disparities in education, rethinking school safety, dispelling racial stereotypes and myths about our communities, student and family storytelling about experiences with counselors and police, building “sanctuary schools” grounded in Black & Brown solidarity and resistance to surveillance and forced removals, and monitoring the fidelity with which hard-fought, community policy victories for transforming school climate are being implemented.
This is not a moment. This is history. DSC CA is a coalition built for the long arm of struggle and resistance to radically embrace and fight for truly safe, holistic, and healing schools for all.