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Solutions Not Suspensions Youth Summit

May 16, 2013

Solutions Not Suspensions Youth Summit

On May 11th, s.t.a.r.t students attended the Solutions Not Suspensions Youth Summit co-hosted by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership and the African American Males in Education Advisory.  Students from all over the metro area attended.

Students listened to a keynote by Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds, Professor of Law at the College of St. Thomas, who tied the suspension  gaps to the school-to-prison pipeline and the disproportionate number of Black men in prison (also described in Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking work The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration Rates in the Age of Colorblindness (2010).   Students also listened to inspiring presentations by Brandon Royce-Diop (activist and member of the MN Minority Education Partnership (MMEP), Anthony Galloway, Creator of the Dare 2 Be Real framework for student leadership and Leonel Dorville from the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), who taught us how his organization is reducing annual admissions to detention by race.

After the thought-provoking presentations, students attended breakout sessions, for students and by students, to discuss their experiences with school discipline.  The event ended with a student collective brainstorming session, in which students imagined a perfect school and talked about what they would change about their schools’ discipline policies.  Students came up with such innovative ideas as student courts, where students help decide what discipline a peer will receive, and having their peers play an active role in mediation processes.  They also talked about importance for training in cultural competence for staff at all levels in a school building from those in charge of discipline to teachers and educational aides.

The students came away very inspired and eager to teach their peers of new ways to foster awareness about ways to develop restorative discipline practices that break patterns through which Black men account for nearly 40% of the prison population.

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