LCAP Countdown Week V: No More Class Time Lost to Suspension, Long Beach Community Says
In Long Beach, students, parents and community members in the Every Student Matters coalition are asking the Superintendent and SchoolBoard to make their LCAP reflect what the research shows and students and parents there want, more money on prevention and intervention over police and criminalization.
Every Student Matters members will testify in force at the Long Beach School Board on June 9th and ask the District’s spending to reflect a priority on real positive school climate transformation.
“Long Beach Unified is losing more than $240,000 dollars each year because it is issuing thousands of suspensions to children for being ‘willfully defiant.’ Pushing students away from school to an unsupervised vacation does not work,” said Angelica Salazar, Senior Policy Associate of Children’s Defense Fund – California. “African American students are suspended at five times the rate of White students in LBUSD, and students with disabilities are also disproportionately impacted by exclusionary, punitive discipline. Rather than relying on punishments that don’t address the root causes of student behavior, LCFF is a real opportunity to bring more supportive programming and staff to LBUSD schools. We are disappointed in the lack of an adequate investment so far.”
The requests from Every Student Matters student members are supported by research. Researchers have found that even one out-of-school suspension is associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of dropout and a student suspended even once is three times more likely to get involved in the juvenile justice system as a student who was not suspended out of school. One study found that any juvenile justice system involvement for males from ages 13.5 to 16.5 increased the student’s odds of dropping out 3.6 times.
LBUSD adopted a resolution to support real school climate reform in October of 2013, but the Every Student Matters members are speaking out because the LCAP does not reflect the resolution’s language. The draft allocates only $100,000 of more than $573 million overall LCFF budget dollars to preventative solutions to suspensions, such as restorative justice practices. In contrast, $2.4 million dollars from supplemental and concentration funding is being spent on police and campus security. ESM members have expressed concerns because that special funding is designated to improve educational services and outcomes for high-need students, and they are asking the funding to be spent on research-based solutions that work.
“I have a minimum of 15 tardies and my friend has 30 or more. I’m the one getting discipline,” said Sayeg Hernandez, then a ninth grader at Cabrillo High School who testified at the initial launch of the ESM matters campaign, as reported on Voicewaves.org. “No one had sat down with me until the final discipline action where I was told I may have to go to Saturday school and go to court to pay a fine. I’m not the only person this can happen to; this can happen to anyone.”
The Every Student Matters campaign is taking action. They have sent in requests for an LCAP that reflects the community’s priorities. They have also revised the school district’s proposed LCAP to include what they would like to see.
Every Student Matters is the first student-led policy advocacy campaign organized by the Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach Youth Committee. The group seeks to foster proactive school discipline practices that address the root causes of behavioral issues, restore justice, and keep students learning in the classroom and on a path to success. Find out more about Every Student Matters and the Long Beach LCAP.