Non-Profit Works to Eliminate School Suspensions

Updated: 03/06/2014 12:48 PM
Created: 03/06/2014 12:19 PM
By: Katherine Johnson

Students stood in the forefront at a news conference at the State Office Building on Thursday. It was all part of the non-profit ISAIAH's push to eliminate suspensions in schools.

"We are in the midst of a crisis," said the Rev. Paul Slack, the President of ISAIAH.

The group of educators and faith leaders is working to send a message to state lawmakers, hoping to change the way discipline in Minnesota schools works in the future.

"One in 10 black kindergartners are being suspended in Minneapolis public schools. These are 5- and 6-year-old children being suspended," said Nekima Levy-Pounds, a Professor at the St.Thomas School of Law.

The goal: to stop any and all school suspensions due to behavioral problems.

"And begin to train our children up rather than lock them up," Slack said.

Slack outlined his school to prison pipeline saying students of color are far more likely to be disciplined in our public schools and less likely to graduate.

"Even if they may look different, or act different, it's on us as educators to get to know them as people," teacher Lyndel Owens said.

"We need to be a part of this movement, and we need to not stop until we have reached our goals," Slack said.

The movement also encourages Minnesota schools to rely more on teachers and principals to talk through their problems with students, making sure the kids understand each disciplinary lesson rather than banning them from learning altogether.

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