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Race, Gender, Discipline and Justice: Students Locked Out of a Quality Education
(Savannah, GA) – Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) along with the African American Male Achievement Group, Inc. (AMA) began a three-day multi-stakeholder convening to address issues surrounding race, gender and school discipline. The convening brings together policy, legal and community advocates, researchers, educators and public officials from across the country who share a commitment in addressing these critical issues.
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we understand the hurdles that children of color in this country face in receiving a quality education. This convening will highlight persistent issues in school discipline as they affect boys and girls of color, the strategies we can use to eliminate them, and the collaborative partnerships we can engage in as we continue this important work,” said Leticia-Smith Evans, Assistant Counsel, with LDF’s Education Practice Group.
LDF and AMA’s joint efforts have been focused at the intersection of how discipline – suspensions, expulsions and alternative placements – disproportionately affects the achievement and opportunity to learn for African-American males in Savannah-Chatham County public schools. “High suspension rates among African-American males in Savannah are deeply entrenched in zero-tolerance policies and practices that disproportionately affect them early on and limit their academic success in schools over time,” said Iris Holmes-McCraw, President of AMA.
“This multi-stakeholder convening is the first of its kind to focus squarely on the combination of race and gender disparities in the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The effort in Savannah is closely connected to coalition efforts nationwide. These advocates know that we cannot expect to close the achievement gap unless we first close the opportunity gap and the discipline gap,” said Damon Hewitt, Director of LDF’s Education Practice Group.
LDF and AMA’s efforts are rooted in the compelling need to curb the disturbing nationwide trend of “school pushout”, which results from the use of punitive disciplinary measures that unjustly affect students of color and negatively impact their academic achievement.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is the premier legal organization fighting for racial justice in the United States. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all. From its inception LDF has been engaged in the fight to remove barriers to educational access and opportunity. LDF has litigated a number of seminal cases involving racial justice and opportunity in education, Brown v. Board of Education and Grutter v. Bollinger. LDF has led efforts to combat racial disparities in school discipline through its Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline initiative. Through its present work in and out of the courts, LDF is fighting to ensure racial equity in education for African-American students and secure a safe, inclusive, and high quality education for all students.
The African-American Male Achievement Group is a community group established in 2006 to raise awareness about the conditions and practices that adversely affect the achievement of African-American males in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS). AMA’s mission is to examine and present these issues to the public so that school board policies, district practices and community-wide efforts will more effectively support the achievement and success of Black male students.