Bill To End The Criminalization Of Students, Invest In Counselors, Safer Environment For Kids

Bill To End The Criminalization Of Students, Invest In Counselors, Safer Environment For Kids

 

Kalamazoo, MI –PACCT, a  local grassroots organization in Kalamazoo, MI calling for defunding police and reinvesting monies that are productive, supportive and healing for students in Kalamazoo Public Schools. A PACCT organizer shared, “Long overdue relief and liberation for our most vulnerable youth in our education system, BIPOC and LGBTQI+ youth.

https://www.change.org/p/kalamazoo-public-schools-end-police-presence-in-kalamazoo-public-schools

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), unveiled the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, much needed legislation that would help disrupt the school-to-confinement pathway (school to prison pipeline), invest in safe and nurturing school climates that support all students and bring an end to the over-policing of our nation’s K-12 schools.

The legislation is informed by Rep. Pressley’s People’s Justice Guarantee, her visionary resolution to transform the American criminal legal system that calls for schools to create safe and nurturing environments that provide all students with the opportunity to heal, thrive and reach their highest potential.

“Every student deserves to learn in a setting free from fear, but when our education system is intertwined with the criminal legal system, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities are disproportionately criminalized for normal childhood behavior and are put on a pathway to confinement,” said Rep. Pressley. “Our bill would address this by shifting federal resources away from school police and investing in culturally responsive nurses, mental health professionals, and other trauma-informed staff that are proven to help our youth grow and reach their full potential. We must root out systemic oppression everywhere it exists—including in our schools—and I thank my colleagues for their partnership in this effort.”

“Right now, too many students, and often kids of color or with disabilities, are arrested by police in schools. The classroom should be a safe place to learn, and the data shows that having counselors and other licensed professionals on staff actually leads to better educational outcomes,” said Sen. Murphy. “I’m re-introducing legislation that would give school districts new resources to increase the presence of support personnel in schools so kids are arrested less and have qualified professionals around to address disciplinary issues in a way that makes students feel supported. It’s just one way we can start to chip away at the racial inequities in our educational system and make sure all kids have a safe place to learn and grow.”

The data shows that counselors, social workers, psychologists and other trained professionals actually improve social and educational outcomes for kids in schools—whereas the involvement of police in schools leads to the criminalization of students, particularly students of color and students with disabilities. The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act would prohibit the use of federal funds to increase police presence in schools and instead provide $5 billion in new grant funding to help schools hire more counselors social workers, and other behavioral health personnel and implement services in schools that create positive and safe climates for all students.

The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act:

  • Prohibits the use of federal funds for maintaining police in schools: Since 1999, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion to support the increased presence of police in schools. However, evidence does not show that this investment has improved student outcomes and school safety. This legislation would prohibit federal funds to support the hiring, maintaining, or training of police officers in K-12 schools and instead divert that funding toward the many other uses related to school safety within applicable grant programs.
  • Invests billions to help schools hire counselors, social workers, and other trauma-informed support personnel necessary to create safe and inclusive learning environments: The legislation helps districts build safe and inclusive schools by establishing a $5 billion grant program to support the hiring of counselors, social workers, nurses, school psychologists, and other personnel. Further, the grant program helps districts implement strategies to improve school climate, such as school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports, and invest in trauma-informed services and professional development. As more school districts choose to move away from policies that criminalize students and push them out of school, this historic investment will ensure districts have the necessary resources to provide students with the supports they need to feel safe in school and thrive.
  • Incentivizes states and districts to bring an end to the criminalization of young people,  particularly Black, Native American and Latino students, immigrant students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students and other historically marginalized students and instead invest in safe and nurturing environments where all students can thrive.

“Counselors, nurses, social workers, and educators belong in schools. Police do not,” said Senator Warren. “Our bill will bring us one step closer to ending the militarization of our public schools that disproportionately hurts Black and Brown students, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, and ensuring we give every child the resources they need to feel safe and thrive.”

“Every single student deserves a quality education, and the support to make that possible. But in districts across America, educational outcomes are radically unequal, particularly for children of color and kids with disabilities. In my hometown of Minneapolis, black students are 41% of the student population, but make up three quarters of all suspensions. At one middle school in my district, African American students are 338% more likely to be suspended than their white peers, according to the most recent data. Kids need support, not punishment. I am proud to join this bicameral effort to invest in social workers, counselors and personnel in schools to make sure our most vulnerable kids have the support they need,” said Rep. Omar.

“Stationing police officers in places of learning creates an environment of criminalization from an early age — making it more challenging for our children to focus on their learning, growth, and unlocking their full potential,” said Rep. Bowman. “When we put an officer in a school, we’re sending a message that our children require surveillance. When we put a counselor in a school, we’re sending a message that our children deserve nurturing and support. The emotional, mental, and social trauma of the past year and beyond makes the Counseling Not Criminalization Act even more urgent. Our Black and brown students have shouldered a disproportionate burden during the pandemic, and we know they face a disproportionate amount of policing and criminalization in school. Let’s act now to decrease police presence and provide our schools with resources for counseling and mental health support students deserve.”

“We need to root out systemic oppression in schools. This challenge might seem insurmountable, but there are clear next steps on the path forward,” said Senator Smith. “We should start by removing police from schools and hiring more school counselors, social workers, and other behavioral health personnel to improve school culture and outcomes for students. By transforming the way that schools approach discipline, we can decrease the criminalization of all students, especially students of color and students with disabilities.”

This week, Congresswoman Pressley submitted testimony to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion in which she urged lawmakers to prioritize legislation that will dismantle the school-to-confinement pathway by reallocating funding from school-based law enforcement and investing that money in culturally responsive nurses, mental health professionals, and other trauma-informed staff.

The legislation has the support of a broad coalition of advocacy groups, including, at the national level:

A Black Education Network; A Little Piece of Life; Advancement Project National Office; Advocating for Kids, Inc; American Association for People with Disabilities; Alliance for Educational Justice; American Civil Liberties Union; Anti Police-Terror Project; Autistic Self Advocacy Network; Aztlan Media – Launch 2024; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; BiNet USA; Black Parallel School Board; Blacks in Law Enforcement of America; Blue Future; Blue Hills Civic Association; Breaking the Chains of Your Mind; CASA; Center for Disability Rights; Center for Learning Equity; Children’s Haven: A Place of Healing and Hope, Inc.; Children’s Defense Fund; Children’s Law Center, Inc.; Chispa; Church World Service; CLASP A New Deal for Youth Changemakers; Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues; Coalition of Labor Union Women, AFL-CIO; Committee for Children; Communities for Just Schools Fund; Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice; Critical Exposure; Deep Center; Defending Rights & Dissent; Dignity in Schools; Disability Rights Advocates; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund; Drug Policy Alliance; Education Justica Alliance; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; EveryBlackGirl, Inc.; Feminist Majority Foundation; First Focus Campaign for Children; Girls Inc.; GLSEN; Health in Justice Action Lab; Hispanic Federation; Hour Children; Human Rights Campaign; Intercultural Development Research Association; Justice for Families; Justice Strategies; Justice Teams Network; Juvenile Law Center; LatinoJustice PRLDEF; Los Angeles United School District; Leaders Igniting Transformation; League of Women Voters of the United States; Legal Aid Justice Center; Mommieactivist and Sons; MomsRising; NAACP; NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc.; NAMINYS Criminal Justice Committee; National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Learning Disabilities; National Center for Youth Law; National Council of Churches; National Crittenton; National Disability Rights Network (NDRN); National Down Syndrome Congress; National Education Association; National Equality Action Team; National Immigration Law Center; National Juvenile Justice Network; National Women’s Law Center; New Athens Creative, Inc.; Next Level Vision, Inc.; Open Society Policy Center; Parents Organized for Public Education; Polemics: Journal of the Workingclass Struggle and National Writers Union; Policing and Social Justice Project; Poverty & Race Research Action Council; Project KnuckleHead; Public Advocacy for Kids; Public Justice; RACCE; Rebuilding Independence My Style; Sociedad Latina; Southern Coalition for Justice; Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund; SPACEs In Action; Stand for Children; Strategies for Youth; Students for Sensible Drug Policy; The Advocacy Institute; The Black Police Experience; The Center for Law and Social Policy; The Center for Popular Democracy; The Choice Program at UMBC; The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; The Daniel Initiative; The Education Trust; The Gathering for Justice; The Institute for Compassion in Justice; The Justice Roundtable; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; The National Black Child Development Institute; The National Parents Union; The School Social Work Association of America; The Sentencing Project; United Methodist Women; Urban Youth Collaborative; Vday; Who Speaks For Me; Women’s Leadership Project; Working Narratives; Young Voices; Youth Over Guns; YWCA USA;

It also has the support of a coalition of local organizations, including Arkansas Community Organizations; Baltimore People’s Climate Movement; Baltimore Police Free Schools Coalition; Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Black & Pink Massachusetts; California Children’s Trust; Center for Children’s Advocacy (CT); Center for Youth & Community Leadership in Education; Clevelanders Against Federal Policing; Collierville Community Justice; CT Students for a Dream; DC Prep PrepNext and ANC 1A07; DeCarcerate Memphis; Disability Rights Oregon; Education Law Center (PA); End Mass Incarceration Georgia Network; Equality California; Faith in New Jersey; Faith in Texas; Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children; Family Law Practice Clinic (CUNY School of Law); Florida Student Power Network; Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline; Hilton Head for Peace; Institute for Compassion in Justice (KY); Just City Memphis; Kentucky Student Voice Team; Lehigh Valley Stands Up; LAUSD; Living United for Change in Arizona; Make the Road Nevada; Make the Road New York; March for Our Lives DC; Next Level Vision DC; Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc.; One Pennsylvania – Education Rights Network; Our Revolution Ohio; Pa’lante Restorative Justice; Reclaim Our Schools LA; Rights & Democracy VT and NH; Silver State Equality – Nevada; Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York; Southern Maine Showing Up for Racial Justice; Special Education Equity for Kids (CT); SURJ Ohio; Tenants and Workers United; Uplift MN LLC.

“Students, especially youth with disabilities and Black and Brown youth, continue to be overpoliced in our nation’s schools. The federal government must stop funding this school-to-prison pipeline. We must divest from school policing and reinvest in counselors, social workers, and nurses who support our students and communities,” said West Resendes of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“For years we have seen troubling patterns in our public schools: students with disabilities, students of color, and other marginalized students are more harshly disciplined, referred to law enforcement, and arrested. It is time that schools truly become a safe place for every child to learn and grow. The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act is a step toward helping every school can invest in what works: the use of evidence-based and trauma-informed services and increasing access to counselors, social workers and mental health professionals. Schools must have these building blocks to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students,” said Meghan Whittaker, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

“I grew up in a predominantly Black and brown neighborhood where I have watched the impact that policing has had in our schools,” said Mariet Leana, youth leader at Make the Road New York and Urban Youth Collaborative. “I have witnessed young people lose their hope and feel that schools are no longer safe places for them because of an overwhelming number of police officers and so few counselors, therapists and other support services that students need to thrive. The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act will invest desperately needed resources into the support that students need: counseling — not criminalization.”

“LGBTQ+ young people, especially those who are BIPOC and students with disabilities, are entering the school-to-prison pipeline at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Discriminatory policies and practices—especially the routine reliance on school-based law enforcement—is at the root of this inequity,” said GLSEN Interim Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers (she/they). “GLSEN is proud to endorse the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act as a crucial step towards decriminalizing youth by investing instead in counseling and health services that foster positive, LGBTQ+ inclusive school climates and promote students’ wellbeing and academic success.”

“The cops in our schools are the same cops that control, terrorize, and criminalize Black, Brown and poor people on our streets,” said Katherine Dunn, Director of Advancement Project National Office’s Opportunity to Learn program. “It’s past time that we listen to young people who are demanding Police Free Schools and an end to the system that disproportionately harms and oppresses youth of color. Advancement Project National Office is proud to support this effort to shift federal resources away from school policing and towards the supportive, restorative resources that our kids need to learn, grow, and thrive.”

“The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act invests in students’ mental health and wellbeing and divests from racist and harmful disciplinary actions which impact young peoples’ health and livelihoods. The bill is an important first step to bringing about needed change in school climate, as all young people deserve to feel safe and supported,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

“The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act will mean that our nation has begun to invest in what actually works to keep our kids safe and in school – counselors, social workers, restorative justice staff, and other behavioral support personnel – and will also mean the nation is stepping away from what doesn’t work: harmful and punitive police in schools. We look forward to helping the bill’s sponsors to ensure this important legislation advances to enactment,” said the National Center for Youth Law.

In March 2021, Rep. Pressley re-introduced her Ending PUSHOUT Act, her bold legislation to end the punitive pushout of girls of color from schools and disrupt the school-to-confinement pathway. The bill, which she initially introduced in December 2019, is also informed by Rep. Pressley’s People’s Justice Guarantee and is a continuation of her longstanding history of working to address issues of criminalization during her tenure on the Boston City Council.

https://www.facebook.com/populardemocracy/videos/267519715154905

 

National Juvenile Justice Network Release One Year Update: Shut Down Sequel Progress Report

National Juvenile Justice Network Release One Year Update: Shut Down Sequel Progress Report

Kalamazoo, MI- Today, NJJN released its Shut Down Sequel Progress Report, a one-year look at the campaign that calls for an end to Sequel Youth and Family Services and harmful use of youth restraints.

Please read, share and #SayHisName #CorneliusFrederick #ShutDownSequel #JusticeForCornelius http://bit.ly/shutdownsequelprogress

Organizers Emergent Justice, PACCT BOARD, local grassroots organization is working in partnership with Troubled Podcast and various organizations from across the county to virtually gather to celebrate the short life of Cornelius Fredrick. Register for the virtual memorial by clicking on link: Remembering Cornelius Fredrick One Year Later

Streaming Live @ https://www.youtube.com/c/majyckradio

Checkout more social justice videos>>NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!

Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Interview schedule

Kalamazoo, MI-

kalamazoo Public Schools Board Trustees superintendent search is well underway and the Board will be preparing for the first round of candidates submitted by MASB, the search firm hired to scout perspective candidates for the district. All meetings are open to the public.

The Administration Building is located at 1220 Howard Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Special Board meeting of the Board of Trustees regarding the superintendent search

at 6:15 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

 January 16, 2020 – West Main School Professional Development Center – Workshop for Trustees to prepare for video interviews

 January 28, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Board Workshop viewing of first round video interviews

February 5, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews

February 6, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews 

February 18, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews

February 19, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews (possible board decision date)

February 25, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – alternate board decision date

Seeking Justice at Kalamazoo School Board Meeting

Seeking Justice at Kalamazoo School Board Meeting

Kalamazoo, MI- Kalamazoo Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting on November 29th, 2018 was a lengthy one, well attended by members of the community and education officials who came to speak on current issues impacting our district.

The meeting began with the recognition of  Northeastern Elementary’s “Turnaround Students”, followed by committee reports given by trustees highlighting their efforts in wellness, curriculum development, and marketing and policy.

Trustee Carol McGlinn relayed information on an initiative to provide “Diverse Classroom Libraries”, sets of books that reflect  the diversity of the student population, at each grade level. Second and third grade classrooms will benefit from these sets during the current school year, while kindergarteners and first graders should have them by the beginning of the next school year. The process of choosing books for fourth and fifth grade students is underway.

McGlinn also relayed that the evaluation committee is continuing to explore the use of Panorama Education Surveys in the district to evaluate the needs of the school community.

Trustee Ken Greschak shared information from a recent meeting of  the Operations Committee, including the efforts of the district’s communications team to “build awareness of the strengths of Kalamazoo Public Schools”. A billboard campaign is underway currently, as well as an increased use of social media and Excelsior to promote this narrative. Another part of the team’s plan involves creating videos for each school building which will feature students “talking about how and why they enjoy their particular school”. Though according to Mr. Greschak, budget constraints limit what they are able to accomplish currently, there has been talk of contracting with a marketing firm to assist these efforts. “We could look at hiring a marketing firm to help inform and advise us on better activities and we may yet do that.”

As reported by Trustee Craig Herschleb, KPS’ Policy Committee has been working on updates to graduation requirements, as well bringing the district in line with a State of Michigan mandate to include policy restricting school employees from making referrals or otherwise providing assistance to students seeking an abortion. The policy requires a district to impose a financial penalty to any individual found in violation of the restriction, and return an equal amount to to the State’s School Aid Fund.

An outline of purchase recommendations was provided by Assistant Superintendent Gary Start, including a $75,000 expenditure for Lexia Learning, literacy programming offered by the Rosetta Stone Company. This purchase will be paid out of a State Early Literacy grant and Title I funds. Updates to schools’ technology resources made possible with the 2018 bond include a plan to purchase over 3,000 Chromebooks for secondary ELA and Social Studies classrooms. 2018 and 2013 Bond funds will also pay for building remodeling at El Sol and South Westnedge (Phoenix) Schools, in addition to four new computer labs at Loy Norrix.

A higher than usual number of individuals took advantage of the opportunity to address the board during Thursday’s meeting, including Rebecca Leighton, teacher at Loy Norrix High School, who has facilitated the work of a group of students to develop a Women’s Studies Course, which has been submitted to the Curriculum Department for review.  Two of the curriculum’s designers, Emma Hilgart Griff and Isaac Moss, spoke on the need for the course as a way to provide a full and accurate depiction of womens’ historic struggles and contributions to society, including those of women of color, stating that current curriculum focuses almost entirely on “white men”. Mr. Moss stated that while he and Ms. Hilgart Grif are at opposite ends of the political spectrum (referring to himself as “fairly conservative and pro-gun”), it is his passion for history that inspired him to take on the project. Fellow student Hannah Sherman also came forward to express her support. The team urges the district to consider adding the Women’s Studies to a list of Social Studies course options. Students must currently fulfill four social studies course requirements in order to graduate.

Amiri Skyes, student at Milwood Middle School, came forward to speak on her awareness of the shortage of substitute teachers in the school. “I know teachers who didn’t have time for lunch because they have to sub in for a different class during their lunch break and planning time”. She also shared a letter written by Milwood teachers and staff on the subject, which said that, “The excessive shortage of substitute teachers in the district, and specifically at Milwood Middle School, is impacting the staff and students significantly.”, adding that the district’s emphasis on Professional development during instructional hours is using up too much of a limited resource.

When Amiri’s three minute limit had expired, her Mother, Shannon Sykes Nehring, picked up where she left off. “Fundamental to building relationships and trust is time.” reading the letter, which emphasized the need for building subs that are able to build trust and rapport with students, alleviating classroom behavior problems that often arise in presence of a substitute teacher. The letter also points out how the shortage of substitutes places a higher burden on teachers, increasing their workload and stress levels – major factors in teacher retention.  At Milwood, the letter contends, there is a need for two building substitutes. They currently employ only one, and the teachers wonder in their letter if the district is doing enough to recruit for the vacant position at the school.

Amanda Miller, President of the the Kalamazoo Education Association came forward with similar concerns, saying that a lack of substitute teachers has become “an emergency” and that the problem is worsened by PD trainings scheduled during class time. Miller also reported that many teachers and staff members have come to her with concerns about increased violence in the classroom and a “degrading culture and climate” that the schools have failed to adequately address. While she agrees with the districts efforts to reduce suspensions, she says that the way to accomplish this is with “consistent consequences, targeted interventions and increased supports”, rather than simply tolerating misbehavior or sending students home.

Miller also took time to express the KEA’s gratitude to outgoing Trustee Lauren Freedman for her service and advocacy.

The KEA’s Vice President, Loy Norrix Teacher Jen Aniano, also spoke on a challenging school culture. She says that she appreciates that the district came through and provided A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) training when teachers expressed their concern for school safety, but more must be done to support the vast number of children suffering the effects of trauma, and the impact of toxic stress on social and emotional learning and academic progress. “The time has come to stop talking about restorative justice and trauma informed schools and make these two concepts a reality. We will not truly be safe and create nurturing environments if we do not wholeheartedly adopt these programs consistently throughout the district.” Jen said, imploring the district to develop a plan that will be ready for implementation at the start of the next school year. “The time is now”.

Following Ms. Aniano’s remarks, a father of a Kindergartener at Northeastern Elementary came to the podium. Jeremy Anderson said his daughter was subjected to the use of occupational therapy and restraint tools without his consent during a crying episode earlier in the year. This was Mr. Anderson’s second address regarding the issue, having first brought the matter to the board during the November 8th meeting. He said that as a result of school employee’s actions his daughter has been diagnosed with PTSD and he is concerned that continued contact with staff members involved is not conducive to her ability to heal from the event, and his desire is to see the teacher and behavioral specialist transferred or terminated. According to Anderson, statements from those involved indicate that the tools used on his daughter were recommended and supplied by both the teacher and the behavior specialist, yet only the aid who used them has been removed from her position. He said that he has experienced difficulty obtaining information from the district, and suspects that the outcome might be different if it had been a white child at the center of the incident. “I can guarantee I will be at every board meeting speaking until my child and family gets the justice any family deserves”. The child’s mother and grandmother also came forward to question the districts handling of the case.

Following public comment, Cindy Green, Director of Teaching and Learning Services, brought forward for review several changes and additions to the middle and high school course offerings. Too numerous to list here, a complete description of these changes can be found within the November 28 meeting packet on the Kalamazoo Public Schools website. Notably absent, however, was mention of the proposed Women’s Studies class brought forward by speakers earlier in the meeting. After Ms. Green’s presentation, Trustee Lauren Freedman expressed that she would like more information about that course in particular before the board votes on the proposed offerings at the next meeting. Trustees Greshak, McGlinn, and board President Sholler-Barber echoed her remarks.

Finally, Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice delivered an annual State of the  Schools Presentation. Titled “KPS Rising!”. Supplying district data on enrollment, graduation, academic proficiency, the report outlined Board of Education’s goals, highlighted the gains that KPS has made in recent years, and compared increases in graduation rates and standardized test scores with comparable districts across Michigan. Notable achievements include:

  • An overall increase of KPS students taking Advanced Placement courses of 156% between the 2007/2008 school year and 2018/2019 school year, and during the same period an increase of 313% among African American/Multi-Ethnic students, 402% among those students who are economically disadvantaged, and a 1212% increase among those who identify as Hispanic.
  • According to the report, KPS graduation rates have risen overall each year for 6 years in a row.
  • District Enrollment has increased 25% since 2005, and graduation rates have risen 52%
  • A breakdown of graduation rate increases by race/ethnicity was not provided in the report.

The report also identified “Selected Challenges for the Year”, which included a need to promote Dignity and Respect for all students, “especially those who are poor, special needs, ELLs, LGBTQ or refugees”

The lengthy presentation also gave an overview of literacy programming, staff training initiatives and improvements to facilities.

Following the presentation, Trustee McGlinn congratulated Dr. Rice and the district for “moving the needle”, and working collaboratively to solve problems. President Sholler-Barber echoed these remarks.

Trustee Dr. Lauren Freedman spoke up to remind everyone in attendance that “we are not moving needles, we are moving children” and that though “a lot of what we do as a district is fabulous”, she is disheartened to learn about the kindergarten student from Northeastern, who’s family came to speak earlier in the evening.  “There is a child hurting, who doesn’t want to come to school” she said, urging district to do everything in their power to support she and her family, adding that she suspects that “there are more of those five year olds out there” and thinks that race is a factor. She implored the district to do more to own up to and address racism within the district, and “call it what it is”, suggesting participation in anti-racism training as well as create policy around restorative justice and becoming trauma informed.

A full recording of the November 29 meeting can be viewed on publicmedianet.org, and full minutes will be published on the Kalamazoo Public Schools website in advance of the next board meeting, scheduled for 7:00 pm on December 20th.

Writer Credits: Tandy Moore

Gun Violence Community Meeting

Kalamazoo, MI- The city of Kalamazoo has already seen gun violence devastate communities, particularly predominately black and communities of color. Monday evening, about 100 community members representing various faith-based, non-profit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens informally discussed violence with guns and what needs to be done.Stop gun violence

State Representative, Jon Hoadley,(D) hosted an informal meeting with citizens of the community. What became very obvious during the break out discussions was the lack of knowledge concerning gun laws in the state of Michigan. Policy concerns, what people and organizations should be present and how to make gun violence a priority in elections were discussion topics.

For more information contact jonhoadley@house.mi.gov

Urban Democracy Feast Shows What Democracy Looks Like

Majyck Radio-Kalamazoo, MI- Preparations and planning were well underway for a group of locals gathering food donations and decorations to transform the Hispanic American Council located in Kalamazoo, MI for their second micro-crowd funded dinner.

The first UD Feast happened back in May, where three community projects were presented. Those recipients were required to report back what was done with the monies they were given. Institute for New Leadership, Urban Exposure and Majyck Radio were present at the second feast to share and be accountable on what was done with the monies to advance their projects.

Well over 100 hundred people were in attendance to feast and listen to four presenters, Allison Kennedy-Humans beyond boxes, Sokhna Heathyre Mabin-Mama Sutura Loving Arts, Elisheva Johnson- Raise the Age, and Marissa Ross-Kalamazoo Peace Center present their projects in five minutes. Attendees were able to ask questions after the presentation and presenters went around to different tables answering questions about their project.Humans Beyond Boxes Allison Kennedy and Kendall Jackson

IMG_0228 Sokna Heathyre Mabin-Mama Sutura Loving Arts
IMG_0231 Elisheva Johnson and Brea Jackson-Raise the Age

IMG_0232 Marissa Ross-Kalamazoo Peace Center

Donations of food from individuals and organizations from Kalamazoo along with great collaboration, skills and talent a plethora of volunteers that help to prepare food for the feast.
JahRay, Randy, Annie, Brooke, Laura, Shima, Amazing, Sasha, Bailey and many other volunteers that help serve the food as well.

Live music from local talent, Mr. Blues, Rusty Fingers and Lady Abbie putting out sounds of classic soul with a kick of blues, a pound of rock & roll and funk with a obvious love of music. Calvin Green, a young musician, drummer performing on the african drum engaging all those in attendance. Attendees were in for a special surprise performance by world renowned dancer, Tamango Vancayseele Stanislas.

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