Youth-Rally for Common-Sense Discipline Reform

Blog Post by Walter Brown, Jr.
Youth Leader, Long Beach Building Healthy Communities
Oct 30, 2013

Being part of the Every Student Matters Campaign in Long Beach has been a challenging and rewarding experience. The goal of the Campaign is to promote positive alternatives to existing school discipline practices, including suspensions and expulsions, which cause the student to miss important class time and puts them at risk for dropping out.

I find it alarming that every 15 minutes a Long Beach student is suspended, particularly because each suspension means the student is missing out on valuable learning which has a negative impact on their academic achievement.

I believe that getting the win on the resolution was a big step forward because it will give students a chance to get the education they deserve and allow them to talk out their problems through restorative justice methods without having to miss valuable class time. This resolution gives students an opportunity to own up to their mistakes in a positive way, while giving teachers and school administrators a chance to get to the root cause of that student’s behavior.

A lot of students at my school experience trauma. Maybe it’s from home or their neighborhood, or even things going wrong in school but they carry it with them throughout the day. The trauma causes stress which sometimes results in a student acting out. Restorative justice allows the student to confront their stress in a constructive way while at the same time helps them build trusting and meaningful relationships with their teachers and school administrators. It also makes the student feel welcomed and comfortable to be themselves knowing that they aren’t alone or not cared about in school.

My experience with the Every Student Matters Campaign has been a moving one.  It allowed me to listen to many personal testimonies which motivated me to work even harder and get more involved. It’s essential to make sure that students feel welcomed and supported while going to school. After all, our education is our pipeline to success!

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