Education Justice

The Children’s Defense Fund–NY believes that each child has tremendous potential to learn and develop and we work to ensure that students—especially students of color, students living in poverty and students with special needs—have the positive learning environments they need to be successful.

CDF-NY engages in policy and budget advocacy, research, and community outreach to support the development and implementation of stakeholder-driven policies and initiatives that improve school climate and student outcomes, and provide students with the developmental, health and mental health resources they need to be able to learn.

In support of CDF’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® campaign (meant to reduce the detention and incarceration of youth and young adults by increasing preventative supports and services), CDF-NY works to replace punitive and exclusionary school discipline and policing policies with positive alternatives and restorative approaches. Our overall goal is to improve education outcomes for youth by keeping them in school with the support of caring communities, and out of court.

School Climate

A safe and supportive school climate serves to nurture students’ social, emotional and academic skills. Especially for poor students, students of color and students with disabilities, who all too often attend schools with few resources and high rates of teacher turnover, drop-outs and school push-out, CDF-NY prioritizes supporting initiatives that improve school climate.

In 2012, CDF-NY contributed research, policy and advocacy support to school climate recommendations published by the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force. Currently, CDF-NY serves on working groups within the NYC Mayor’s School Climate Leadership Team, and the New York State Safe Schools Task Force focused on the implementation of policies and regulations meant to protect student dignity and wellbeing.

As CDF’s mission urges us to ensure a successful passage to adulthood for children with the help of caring families and communities, CDF-NY remains keenly aware of the important role that all school stakeholders—students, teachers, parents, safety agents and school officials play in setting school climate. Since supporting its origination in 2012, CDF-NY has actively participated in the Bronx School Justice Working Group to facilitate multi-stakeholder conversations and initiatives focused on improving school climate and collaboration between stakeholders. With our Bronx partners, CDF-NY has provided several Cradle to Prison PipelineTM trainings to School Safety Officers city-wide, and facilitated school visits for school stakeholders to expedite the development and use of school climate action plans in schools across the Bronx.

School Discipline & Safety

Critical to a positive school climate are school discipline and safety policies that ensure student safety while also promoting inclusion and fairness. CDF-NY advocates for positive alternatives to punitive, exclusionary school discipline and safety practices such as suspensions, arrests and summonses.

As an active steering committee member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York, CDF-NY advocates for changes to the NYC School Discipline Code, and policies and investments that utilize positive school-wide approaches to school discipline, such as restorative justice and guidance interventions that reduce conflict and increase learning. In working to reduce New York City’s overreliance on school discipline practices that disproportionately push students of color, students with special needs and LGBTQ students out of school, CDF-NY works directly with the NYC Mayor’s Office, Department of Education and City Council to ensure that students’ rights to be in school are not inappropriately violated.

In support of the NYC Student Safety Coalition, CDF-NY advocates to reduce school-based arrests and summonses, and increase transparency around school policing practices in NYC schools through the NYC Student Safety Act. The New York Police Department’s School Safety Division (SSD) is the largest in the nation and CDF-NY vigilantly monitors the impact of school arrests and summonses on students, and works actively to improve interactions between students and law enforcement.

Since 2012, CDF-NY has partnered with NYPD SSD to provide community-driven workshops to school safety agents regarding the negative impact the Cradle to Prison PipelineTM has on NYC students. These workshops, which include age-appropriate, restorative approaches to agents’ interactions with students, serve as a compliment to agents’ NYPD training, and provide opportunity for open and honest dialogue between agents and community members.

NYC Community Schools

Nation-wide community schools provide a holistic set of policies and programs to improve student wellness and academic achievement.

CDF-NY celebrates NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Schools Initiative for its use of a service co-location model that positions schools as a resource hub for students and families by providing access to academic instruction, social services and health care delivery systems. CDF-NY’s Executive Director, Melanie Hartzog, is proud to serve on Mayor de Blasio’s Community Schools Advisory Board, and the CDF-NY policy staff with specific expertise in school healthcare delivery and school climate are pleased to contribute to advisory board workgroups and strategic planning.

Publications, Testimony & Resources

CDF-NY Publications and Testimony

Public Hearing on Proposed Revisions to the Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Student Learning

August 8, 2016

Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline Releases Second and Final Phase of Recommendations

July 18, 2016

Children and Payment and Delivery System Reform in New York State

This policy brief provides an examination of New York’s recent efforts to transform the state’s expensive, inefficient, and ineffective health care system into one that achieves the triple aim of health care reform – increased quality of care, improved population health, and decrease per-capita costs of care.

May 31, 2016

Course Evaluation Generic

April 28, 2016

New York State Assembly Hearing on Criminal Justice May 2015

Assembly Standing Committee on Codes Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary Assembly Standing Committee on Correction New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus

May 7, 2015

UAC Panel Presentations April 30 2015

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

April 30, 2015

CDF-NY Testimony: 4/14/15 City Council Hearing on School Safety and Discipline

Testimony of The Children’s Defense Fund – New York

April 14, 2015

City Budget Testimony 2015

March 24, 2015

CDF-NY's Testimony: 2014-15 NYC Discipline Code Hearing

Public Hearing on Proposed Revisions to the Citywide Standards of Intervention and Discipline Measures

March 2, 2015

CDF-NY Public Protection Hearing Testimony

FY2015 Joint Legislative Hearing on Public Protection 2015-2016 Executive Budget Proposal

February 26, 2015

Other Publications and Resources

NYC School Discipline Code, http://schools.nyc.gov/RulesPolicies/DisciplineCode/default.htm

NYC School Chancellor’s Regulations, http://schools.nyc.gov/RulesPolicies/ChancellorsRegulations/default.htm

Joint “Dear Colleague” Letter, U.S. Department of Justice & Education, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi.html

Model Code on Education and Dignity, Dignity in Schools Campaign, http://www.dignityinschools.org/our-work/model-school-code

New York State Education Department, Public Data Access Site, http://data.nysed.gov/

NYC Department of Education, NYC Data, http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/data/default.htm

Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York, http://www.dignityinschools.org/dsc-ny

The Student Safety Act Data, NYCLU, http://www.nyclu.org/schooltoprison/ssa

Contact


For more information on
CDF-NY’s Education Advocacy,
please contact:

 

Charlotte Pope
Yout Justice Policy Associate