On December 20, 2011, the New York City Council voted unanimously to pass the Student Safety Act, which will bring much-needed transparency to aggressive policing and zero tolerance discipline in New York City’s public schools. Urban Youth Collective, one of Deutsche Bank’s partners in the College Ready Communities program, was instrumental in the Act’s passage, having spent years working to increase awareness among policymakers and the public about how the city's safety policies disproportionately impact low-income students of color.
The Student Safety Act will require the NYPD and the Department of Education to routinely disclose basic information on school safety, such as the number of students suspended during the school year, the number of suspension-related school transfers, and NYPD activity within NYC public schools. This information will be broken down by race/ethnicity, gender, grade level, age, and any special education or English-language program involvement, allowing for a clearer assessment of current practices and any biases against students of color. UYC will use this data to continue its work to improve school safety policies in NYC high schools. “It’s important that we know who is being suspended and for what,” said Jose Burgos, a 17-year-old member of Future of Tomorrow, a UYC member group. “At my school, students get suspended for bringing a bottle of juice or water into school, forcing them to miss class and miss the opportunity to learn. Students go to school to learn, so this doesn’t make sense. This act will reveal things like that.”
The Urban Youth Collaborative is an organization dedicated to bringing New York City youth together to fight for change through local and citywide organizing strategies. The passage of the Student Safety Act marks their second victory in six months that particularly impacts low-income students of color; last year they successfully fought for the restoration of free- and reduced-metro cards for 600,000 students in the public school system.
For more information about the Urban Youth Collaborative, visit their website: http://www.urbanyouthcollaborative.org