The Portland Parents Union, a member of the Dignity in Schools coalition, is observing the National Week of Action on School Push-out with a "restorative listening" event on disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of students, Saturday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 NE Hancock.
The event starts with a news and informational session, and continues through the evening with students and families sharing their stories and participating in a facilitated restorative listening process designed to speed up the healing process for students, families and the community at large.
The public is invited and admission is free.
"Youth are being pushed out of school by zero-tolerance policies, unwelcoming school environments, inadequate curricula and other harmful school policies and practices," the Portland Parents Union said in a statement this week. "Schools push out students of color, LGBT students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income communities at higher rates.
"We demand support for school policies that protect and promote the human rights of students."
Restorative listening is a community healing and organizing tool in which individuals impacted by racism or other harmful actions by others are given the space to share their stories without judgment or criticism, with the help of a skilled facilitator.
The Portland Parents Union organizes restorative listening sessions regularly, as well as lobbying state and local education officials and advocating for individual students and their families at the school and district levels.
Sept. 29 to Oct. 6 is the 3rd Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout, part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign.
Dignity in Schools is a national coalition of more than 50 youth, parent, educator and advocacy organizations, working to draw attention to the more than 3 million students suspended out-of-school each year.
The Skanner News series on the issue, "Suspensions and Expulsions: the School to Prison Pipeline," detailed the social costs of disproportionate out-of-school discipline – including high incarceration and drop-out rates. http://www.theskanner.com/news/northwest/13556-suspensions-and-expulsions-of-black-students-the-school-to-prison-pipeline-2012-03-06
Dignity in Schools organizers say they are calling on states and school districts to implement positive discipline policies that improve the learning environment and keep students in school. Members of the DSC will hold marches, rallies, teach-ins and trainings in over 20 cities nationwide throughout the week.
The Portland Parent Union is holding information actions around the city and state as part of a local campaign to reduce the push-out disparities.
For more information go to PPS on the web here. http://www.facebook.com/pages/PPS-PARENT-gUNION/109527719121
Visit Dignity in Schools here. http://www.dignityinschools.org/
Learn more about Solutions Not Suspensions here. http://stopsuspensions.org/