DSC-NY Delivers Gift Baskets to Department of Education
27 Jun in
By Erica Vladimer, Dignity in Schools Campaign - New York
On June 19th, students and advocates from the Dignity in Schools Campaign- New York (DSC-NY) delivered over 2,300 post cards signed by New Yorkers committed to ending the NYC Department of Education’s (DOE) overreliance on school suspensions.
The post cards were wrapped up and bundled into eight large gift packages with bright green balloons. Each gift basket symbolized a different call for reforms needed to reshape the city’s overly punitive discipline code, including eliminating suspensions as a disciplinary response for minor misbehaviors in Levels 1-3 of the Code, mandating the use of positive guidance interventions in all schools, and eliminating long-term suspensions of more than 10 days.
Two dozen DSC-NY members stood behind 16 year-old Elizabeth Espinal, a member of Sistas and Brothas United in the Bronx, as she vocalized the demands of the Campaign on the steps of the NYC Department of Education headquarters.
“Every student has the right to be treated with dignity,” she said, with conviction and pride, “and every student has a human right to education.”
Holding the gift baskets high in the air, members cheered and applauded before making their way up to the front doors to deliver the baskets to Chancellor Walcott.
Initially asked to leave the baskets outside the building, DSC-NY members were ultimately able to persuade a senior representative from the Office of School and Youth Development and a representative from the Chancellor’s office to accept our gifts on the Chancellor’s behalf. They listened while Elizabeth and Lawrence Booker, a 16 year-old member of Future of Tomorrow in Brooklyn, shared the message included in the over-sized card attached to the gift baskets. That card included a request that the Chancellor meet with DSC-NY and reiterated our campaign platform.
Tuesday’s gift giving came on the final day on which the Department of Education was accepting testimonies regarding the proposed changes to the discipline code, set to be released in August.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York is a coalition of students, parents, educators, civil rights, students’ rights and community organizations, including: Advocates for Children of New York, Brooklyn Movement Center, Center for Community Alternatives, Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Future of Tomorrow, Make the Road New York, Mass Transit Street Theater, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, Pumphouse Projects, Sistas and Brothas United, Teachers Unite, The Sikh Coalition, Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Youth on the Move, and Youth Represent.