Racial Justice NOW!, Dignity in Schools Campaign, Legal Defense Fund Announce Recommendations for Ohio State Education Plan
Dayton, Ohio – Last week, Racial Justice NOW! of Dayton, Ohio (RJN), the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC), and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent a letter to Ohio state officials urging them to ensure that its education plan reflects community input and addresses racial disparities in its public schools. The State Board of Education will vote on the plan tomorrow.
“As a student advocate, I know far too many students, especially Black students, who have been suspended from school for typical child and adolescent behavior that should have been addressed solely in the classroom,” said Cameron Walker, RJN! Parent Organizer and Dayton Public School parent. “It goes without saying that students cannot learn if they are not in school. In its final state plan, Ohio must include school climate in its accountability system and use discipline data—such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests—to measure this indicator.”
“Ohio has a responsibility to create a state education plan that attends to the needs and concerns of those who have the greatest stake in its success: students, parents, teachers, and community members,” said Elizabeth Olsson, Senior Policy Associate at LDF. “We urge the Ohio Department of Education and the State Board to give serious consideration to stakeholder input as they consider a plan that will profoundly affect the success and well-being of Ohio’s students for years to come.”
Our recommendations – which were sent today in a letter to the Ohio Department of Education – are intended to ensure that the state’s plan reflects community input, addresses school inequities, and includes provisions to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students. Among other suggestions, we advise the State to include school climate and safety in its accountability system in order to reduce the use of practices that push students out of the classroom and unfairly impact students of color. We also encourage state officials to ensure that its accountability system captures as many subgroups as possible and to help students involved in the juvenile justice system successfully transition back into mainstream schools.
If approved by the State Board of Education at tomorrow’s meeting, the state’s plan will go to Governor John Kasich, who will then have 30 days to review it. The plan must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on September 18 in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), which requires states to consider feedback from community stakeholders.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.