Below is an edited version of remarks presented by Boston Student Advisory Council members Fania Joseph and Kenny Feng at “A Dialogue on Race,” a conference hosted by Teen Empowerment, in Boston, in March.
FJ: Race matters when it comes to education. We want to see more teachers of color in our schools. Eighty-six percent of Boston Public Schools students identify as black, Latino, or Asian, but only 37 percent of the teachers in the district are teachers of color. This is a problem across the whole country, and it impacts how and what we learn.
KF: Race also matters when it comes to school discipline. According to BPS data from 2014-2015, 7.6 percent of black students and 4.4 percent of Latino students received out-of-school suspensions, compared to 1.5 percent of their white peers.
FJ: This is a huge part of the school-to- prison pipeline that we want to put an end to.
KF: In October, BSAC did a Listening Project and talked to around 300 Boston students about their experiences with school discipline and zero-tolerance policies. Students who had been suspended said it made them feel “not human,” “like they were getting bullied,” and like they did not “want to try at all.”
FJ: This is not OK. BSAC and others
have worked hard to pass laws so that in most cases, out-of-school suspension is
a last resort and that schools have to try alternatives rst, like restorative justice. Circle practice is a form of a restorative justice that can be used to repair harms in a community. Individuals sit in a circle and develop solutions together through conversation.
KF: Come talk to us after for more information and to get one of our student rights cards.