Dear Parents, Youth, Friends, and Supporters
Last year as we worked to train parents, allies, and organizations on the Dignity in Schools Campaign Model Code, it hit me again how deeply the school to prison pipeline affects many lives. When speaking to folks who work with individuals serving life in prison and after reading the records of the incarcerated, we learned that many of them were suspended or expelled from school. I can’t help but feel disappointed by the many missed opportunities to support them before they were pushed out of school. This definitely took me back to 1999 when I listened to the
pleas of countless parents who were calling for help as their children were being ushered into prison. The one thing that was consistent was hearing mothers say that as they were looking for help for their kids they were being told they would find the help needed within the system. Yet the use of the system, or rather the lack of an effective and supportive system to be used, found child after child funneled directly into prison.
These calls are what led us to ensure that our juvenile justice reform included an Education and Juvenile Partnership which ushered into schools Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and Restorative Practices (RP) as a way to end the “School to Prison Pipeline”. Families have been instrumental in the fight to change oppressive systems that continue to complicate their lives and derail their children’s futures. The legislative process, while sometimes helpful, can also be the barrier for families to reach the goal of reforming the education and juvenile justice systems. There is a continual struggle to ensure family voices are heard as
we fight for juvenile prison and education reform. Our (families) input continues to be ignored while back door deals are being cut. Getting a “win” on the books seems to be the deal of the day, even if it ignores the needs of the people affected by the issues. Thinking about the recent anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. death, and the fact that he gave his life for a dream of equity and justice for ALL is having a profound effect on me as of late. 47 years after his death and almost 52 years after his "I have a Dream" speech, we are still dreaming, hoping, and fighting for justice. FFLIC has been pushing and fighting since 2000 to ensure that ALL
children are given an opportunity to stay in school learning instead of being pushed out of school through unnecessary and unjustified suspensions under the guise of “willful disobedience”. So I cling to Dr. King’s logic that legislation isn’t the greatest accomplishment rather pointing to “positive self-identity” and having the voice in the struggle from those affected by the issue - those who continue to fight!
For all that we’ve accomplished in reforming a desperately broken education and juvenile justice system here in Louisiana and around the country, our fight still rages on. Our children’s lives are at stake, our families are at stake and we must continue to stand our ground, educate ourselves, and demand that TRUE REFORM be implemented and not simply talked about or band-aided if we are truly seeking meaningful healing in this country. If we don’t we will have not have only failed our children, but ourselves “For these are ALL our children. We will ALL profit by, or pay for , whatever they become ”
– James Baldwin
Let’s come together, let’s work towards “true” collaboration and “true” reform and most of all…lets “Let Kids Be Kids”!
Don't miss the opportunity to join FFLIC and participate in our monthly chapter meetings:
Shreveport: 2nd Sunday of Every Month
New Orleans: 3rd Thursday of Every Month
Lake Charles: 4th Tuesday of Every Month
Lafayette: 4th Wednesday of Every Month
Place: TBA for information call FFLIC 504.708.8376 or toll free: 855.50.FFLIC
BECOME A LEADER WITH THE LEADERS WHO ARE PUSHING FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE AND EDUCATION REFORM FOR FAMILIES.
LEADER TRAINING MONTHLY: 4th Thursday of Every Month
For information on how to join in...
call 504.708.8376 or
toll free: 855.50.FFLIC
FFLIC Officially Announces the Launch of the “Let Kids Be Kids” Campaign!!
FFLIC’s work over the past 15 years has been to reform Louisiana's failing educational and juvenile justice systems in order to protect the rights of children who are entrapped or at risk of becoming entrapped in the school to prison pipeline. FFLIC partnered with Loyola University School of Mass Communication students to develop a media campaign centered on those who are at the heart of the reform...KIDS! It's because of this that FFLIC is excited to launch our "Let Kids be Kids" campaign. This campaign was developed to continue to remind
us that all children make mistakes, and those mistakes are an important part of a child’s growth and development. More importantly, those mistakes must be met with help and support from caring adults, not unneccesary punishment and zero tolerance policies which leads to being "pushed out" and "locked out" of opportunities that shape a positive future for a child. More than 80,000 disciplinary actions are taken for willful disobedience annually in the U.S. Currently, 40 percent of Louisiana’s incarcerated youth are charged with nonviolent offenses. These draconian policies not only rob our children of their childhood but set the stage for possible future offenses that may leave our
children with no other recourse but incarceration. We must be more tolerant and understanding of our children and develop alternatives to address their behavioral issues and needs. These are our children—the community’s children--our FUTURE!
2015 Louisiana Legislative Session
April 13, 2015 marks the start of Louisiana’s 2015 Legislative Session. FFLIC had a successful 2014 legislative session as our families organized holding our annual “Day at the Capitol” to bring awareness to lawmakers the need to implement positive discipline practices in schools. We also worked with Senator Sharon Weston-Broome during the 2014 legislative session and as a result, three senate resolutions (SCR 134, SR 174, and SCR 148) were passed, two in support of education reform (SCR 134 and SR 174). In early 2015, in response to SCR 134, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released a report “Response to Senate Concurrent Resolution 134” on school suspensions. The report stated that during the 2013-2014 school year, 61,201 out of school suspensions were handed out with 13,535 of those suspensions being for “willful disobedience”. 8,000 of the
willful disobedience suspensions were issued to grades Pre-K to 5. This is a decrease of roughly 6,000 suspensions since the last data was reported in 2012-2013. We have continued to work with Senator Broome who has been a champion in supporting FFLIC’s goals to reduce suspensions and expulsions and she is proposing Senate Bill 54 for the 2015 legislative session. This bill calls for a ban on suspensions and expulsions for grades K – 3. Grades 4 – 12 will continue to be suspended and expelled if their conduct warrants. This of course does not fully support FFLIC’s
goal to have a moratorium on suspensions and expulsions for "willful disobidience" for all children and we will continue to reach out to lawmakers to protect ALL children. As well, we will fight for enforcement of laws that are already active such as Act 136 which mandates professional development for teachers on Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and Restorative Practices; we will also hold our annual Day at the Capitol (date to be determined) to ensure that proposed legislation continues to support policies that focus on positive discipline practices so ALL of our young people are kept in school and that ALL schools,
including charters, are held accountable.
When will Charter Schools begin to be held Accountable?
Charter schools continue to change the landscape of education here in New Orleans. Charter schools give the appearance that they are providing parents and students a better option of attending a school that is focused on offering “innovative” educational programs that are far better than those offered in traditional public schools. However, in reality, they ostracize special needs students, and some are entrenched in poor fiscal management and lack of accountability all which aides in hindering the progression of our youth and can inevitably push them into the prison pipeline. When FFLIC learned that charter school Miller McCoy Academy in New Orleans had suspended bus service to 158 of its students with less than a two weeks notice, FFLIC immediately began rallying parents to demand accountability for the haphazard and inconsiderate way parents and students were informed and have been treated since this issue came to the forefront. Children are now placed in a vulnerable positions as many are having to take the bus for the first time. It is because of this lack of accountability that FFLIC continues to push
the Charter School Accountability Guidelines developed by the National Dignity in Schools Campaign and other organizations around the country including FFLIC. We have been discussing this with Senator Broome and hope charter school accountabilitiy will find its way into 2015 legislation. Again at the very least, a study resolution to ensure a fully functional, accountable, and successful public school system that protects every student’s human right to a quality education and to be
treated with dignity.
FFLIC travels to Washington D.C. for the ESEA Re-authorization!
FFLIC in conjunction with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Dignity in Schools Campaign, our youth members, and many allies, traveled to Washington D.C. on February 25, 2015 to support the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which looks to govern how government money is spent on education. The law expired in 2007 and Congress has yet to come to an agreement on a new version of the law. FFLIC Youth Member, Rahsaan
Ison traveled with us to D.C. in support of the re-authorization and was recently quoted in the Nation. Rashaan has been an active member at FFLIC since an unfortunate school incident left him expelled from school in early 2014. Shortly thereafter Rahsaan started working with FFLIC supporting our efforts to reform zero tolerance policies that are robbing our children of the education they have a right to. FFLIC hopes that Congress realizes how critical it is that the ESEA be re-authorized in a manner that supports restorative practices, encourages parental and community participation, and
continues federal oversight, as mentioned in our OpEd in the Advocate. All children deserve the support of federal funding to ensure a proper education and the implementation of positive behavioral supports that keep our kids in school learning!
FFLIC could not continue to support our families if not for the continued support from individuals and foundations. We continue to seek out new foundations to ensure the stability of our organization. We would like to thank all of our funders that continue to support FFLIC. New funders that have been added for 2015 are in bold.
A host of individual donors
Advancement Project Collaborative
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Charles T. Beaird Family Foundation
Criminal Justice Initiative, a project of the Solidago Foundation
Greater New Orleans Foundation
Kerry Lobel and Marta Drury, girls just wanna have funD, a donor advised fund of Horizons Foundation
Marguerite Casey Foundation
Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Partners Fund
The Progressive Technology Project
The Schott Foundation for Public Education
The National Dignity in Schools Campaign
Unitarian Universalist – Just Society Fund
Youth Justice Funding Collaborative
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
PEOPLE'S DATA CAMPAIGN!!!! Click here to complete survey!!
In Louisiana, children are being suspended, expelled and pushed out of school which has a direct relationship with children ending up in prison. In 2003 Louisiana passed sweeping reform (Act 1225) that closed our country’s most notorious juvenile prison and set in motion
other reforms that if implemented fully and with fidelity would halt the school to prison pipeline. School should provide a safe and nurturing environment for children. Out-of-school suspensions and expulsions cut classroom time for those who need it most. We are hearing disturbing trends of children who are being placed on probation. Probation is described as something like “zero tolerance” where, among other things, children can be recommended for expulsion simply for skipping class which clearly violates Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) which is a state mandate. PBIS if used correctly is designed to keep children from being suspended or expelled. Another trend we are hearing is that children/families
are being forced to withdraw their children or risk facing expulsion on their permanent records. The families we have spoken to are feeling frustrated as the education system that holds their children to a zero tolerance policy and demands no accountability from the school system itself.
FFLIC continues to embark upon our “People’s Data Campaign” in order to get a more accurate account of how the lack of proper implementation affects our youth, family and communities. The “People’s Data Campaign” was designed in order to deploy families, youth, and other concerned community to conduct surveys and outreach in communities by door knocking, walking the street, setting up tables at malls and department stores, near schools,
develop PSA’s and whereever we can find families and youth willing to tell their story. We invite every person and organization to join this opportunity to have your voice heard and your story told. We aim to collect surveys and petitions across Louisiana to tell our legislators to: In Honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Keep the Dream Alive: End the School to Prison Pipeline” and call for Accountability for Juvenile Justice Reform.
Click here to complete survey!!!