The public education system, which first outlawed and then refused to educate black children (as well as many children of color and women), was never created with black success in mind. For over a century, black families and community leaders have created—and continue to create—alternative schools that fully respect the intellect and development of our children. Since black students were systematically excluded from public education, black educators took to establishing independent schools that served black kids.
Today the public education system continues to fail low-income students and students of color at an alarming rate. And like the brave education advocates before them, communities of color and low-income communities are still fighting to find ways to educate their children by any means necessary, whether deciding to send their child to an alternative public charter or magnet school or using a public voucher to attend a private school.
Selecting Great District Leaders
Demanding authentic community engagement in the selection of school district leaders in Los Angeles, Denver, and the Bay Area.
Los Angeles students surveyed Latino and Spanish-speaking parents in their district to learn how engaged community members felt in the superintendent selection process. They waited over nine hours to present their findings to the school board, which overwhelmingly showed that low-income parents had little to no access to the community forums and online surveys the district provided for input.
LA School Report: "College Students Find Gaps in LAUSD Superintendent Search Process"
LA Times: "Fixing LA Schools"
Hoy Los Angeles: "Injusta La Encuesta en Linea para La Eleccion de Superintendente"
Check out the work our members have done with Students For Education Reform Action Network.
Great Public Schools Now
Creating more great schools in Los Angeles
Many of our students have experienced the life-changing effects of school choice and have fought to ensure every community in their neighborhood has access to a great school. Students defended the need for Valiente College Prep, the first charter school in this working-class, Latino neighborhood. Students are expanding their support by advocating for the Great Public Schools Now plan, which replicates successful school models across L.A., including district, magnets, and charters like Valiente.
Demanding high-quality pre-k in Massachusetts' lowest income neighborhoods
Students in Massachusetts have been supporting issues that provide more direct support to students who need them most, like our work supporting a bill that would provide more resources to English Language Learners. Now they are working with Pre-K for MA to expand early child education programs across the state, starting with students who need them most in Massachusetts’ lowest performing school districts.
Reforming Discipline Policies
Remove harsh discipline policies for non-violent offenses in Ohio and Minnesota schools
Students in Ohio have been advocating for discipline reform by seeking to end 'one-size-fits-all' zero tolerance policies for non-violent offenses that often criminalize black and brown students and students with disabilities. They want schools and courts to work together to get kids who miss school back into the classroom and to intervene with positive, alternative measures that identify the cause of missed school instead of using suspension and expulsion as the first line of defense.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: 'Zero tolerance' in Ohio may be legal but hurts at-risk kids
WPCO Cincinnati: Lawmakers propose truancy law reform to improve student attendance
Students in Minnesota hope to establish a taskforce that sets statewide standards for training, certification, and monitoring of police officers working in schools (also known as school resource officers.) They want school leaders and resource officers to promote restorative justice practices as the first line of discipline for nonviolent offenses, limiting suspensions and securing protections around its use. Learn More.
Ensure that low-income, students of color have access to great schools in North Carolina
Magnet schools are some of the highest performing schools in North Carolina, but not all students and families have genuine access to them. SFER members want magnets to be more accessible to low-income, students of color and to produce the same results for these students as it does for their more affluent peers. SFER members are fighting to ensure that more schools like these are created, meet the needs of their community, and serve the poorest students across the district, no matter what neighborhood the school is located in.
The American Prospect: Can Charlotte-Mecklenburg Desegregate Its Schools... Again?
The Charlotte Observer: For teens, CMS assignment decisions shape daily life
Charlotte Magazine: West Charlotte Alumni and Students Talk Desegregation
EdNC: Are Magnet Schools Failing?
Resources for college and career readiness
Minnesota and Nationwide
Minnesota college graduates already carry one of the nation’s highest student debt loads and repay their loans at an above average rate. Yet remedial classes saddle students with millions in additional debt, don’t earn them credit, and deter them from completing degrees – at a time when most Minnesota jobs require post-secondary education. 100% of MN’s high school graduates have fulfilled the requirements for a diploma, yet when they get to college,1 in 4 students are required to pay for classes covering K-12 material. Learn more.