A Victory for the Every Student Matters Campaign!
On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the Long Beach Unified School District passed a resolution to promote positive alternatives to exclusionary school discipline by a unanimous vote. The resolution urges LBUSD schools to provide alternatives to suspensions and expulsions by expanding Restorative Justice programs that support all students in becoming healthy, thriving adults.
“Restorative Justice allows a student to see the larger picture of his/her defiance,” said Barbara Lindholm, Principal at Reid High School. “We aren’t interested in ‘punishment.’ Rather, we want to inculcate the values of empathy, orderliness, and manners in students – lifelong lessons which they will use in future arenas.” A student from Poly High School and a leader from Khmer Girls in Action, Malachy Keo, echoed Principal Lindholm adding, “I’ve had disagreements with teachers before. Restorative Justice practices would have helped me and my teachers see each other’s point of view and build better relationships.”
As the majority of students in Los Angeles County, young people of color have a vital role to play in making our neighborhoods safer, our economy stronger and steering our city and state towards success. Yet low income and young men of color have the lowest life expectancy rates, highest unemployment rates, fewest high school and college graduates and most murder victims of any demographic group in the county. This reality starts in school policies that unfairly target students of color for suspensions which ultimately lead to truancy and drop-outs.
“This vote is an important first step in our effort to ensure that every student has an opportunity to thrive,” said Kafi D. Blumenfield, President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation. “Passage of this resolution signals that Long Beach truly wants all students to lead healthy, successful lives.”
Long Beach Schools Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser put forth the resolution which promotes disciplinary policies that are equitable, fair, focus on prevention, and provide an opportunity for students to learn from their mistakes. “I applauded the Superintendent and School Board for taking the right step forward,” said Delisa King, a parent of LBUSD high school students. “I hope the district will work with our community of parents, students and advocates on implementing school discipline reforms.”
“Long Beach Unified has always been about change and improvement and this has been a part of everything we do,” said Citlali Hernandez, Senior at Wilson High School and a student leader at Californians for Justice. “This resolution is no exception. I look forward to working with the District to make sure that every student feels that they matter.”
About the Every Student Matters Campaign
Every Student Matters (ESM) is the first student-led policy advocacy campaign organized by the Building Healthy Communities Youth Committee. We seek to foster school discipline practices that address the root causes of behavioral issues, restore justice, and put students on a path to success. Every Student Matters is a campaign of the Brothers Sons Selves initiative at Liberty Hill Foundation. Brothers Sons Selves is a coalition of L.A. County community organizations working towards a common agenda to improve the lives of young men and was created in partnership with The California Endowment.