En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Gotham Schools
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Weiner’s proposal to “remove troublesome students” draws fire

Anthony Weiner has no campaign office or campaign stops, because he has no mayoral campaign, at least for now. So students are heading to his home on Park Avenue today to protest a centerpiece of his education policy proposals.

Students who are part of the Urban Youth Collaborative [including some of Make the Road’s youth members] are rallying outside Weiner’s apartment building this afternoon to oppose what they say is a “discriminatory” position on school discipline.

The students — who are no newcomers to political theater — say Weiner’s proposal to “streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom” would unfairly target black and Latino students. The proposal topped Weiner’s education agenda in a recent policy booklet, “Keys to the City,” which was an updated version of a 2009 document by the same name.

Weiner’s policy proposal says nothing about the race of the students the policy would affect, of course. But the students are pointing to data about who bears the brunt of discipline under the Bloomberg administration to suggest that those trends would likely hold true.

Weiner’s proposal “appears even more heavy-handed than Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘zero-tolerance’ approach that have [sic] resulted in huge racial disparities,” the press release about this afternoon’s rally said.

Black and Latino students make up about 70 percent of students across the city. But they represent 93 percent of students arrested or cited for criminal behavior at schools, even as the number of overall incidents has fallen. They are also suspended disproportionately often, as well. The arrest and suspension data are released under the Dignity in Schools Act, a law that the City Council passed in 2010 under pressure from the Dignity in Schools Campaign, of which the Urban Youth Collaborative is a member.

The rally outside Weiner’s home was organized in part by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, the coalition that formed to oppose the Bloomberg administration’s school policies in the election. The press release points out that current Democratic candidates have signaled their support for changing the way school discipline is meted out.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, for example, said last month, “I want to be the mayor who works along, yes, with our students, but also with education professionals to make sure our environments are safe but that students and particularly students of color aren’t being targeted, aren’t being singled out for suspensions and arrests.” He was speaking at a rally to support a gentler approach to discipline that also drew support from Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, all mayoral candidates.

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