As part of our continued fight against racial injustice in our community, Stand Tennessee has recently joined as an organizational member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition focused solely on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.
DSC members work to transform their communities, support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization, and the dismantling of public schools, and fight racism and all forms of oppression through direct action organizing, public policy advocacy, and leadership development.
To continue the work locally, we’ve joined with two Memphis-based youth advocacy partners, Bridge Builders CHANGE and Shelby County Youth Council, to develop a strategy to remove law enforcement officers and SROs from Shelby County Schools and increase mental health support for students such as additional school counselors and school social workers and increased funding for “Reset Rooms” as an alternative to punitive methods for addressing student behavior. With the help of Memphis Stand Director Cardell Orrin and lead Outreach Coordinator Paul Garner, these youth-led partnerships have established a “Counselors, Not Cops” campaign and have begun outreach to local legislators to accomplish our shared goals.
Here’s what lead outreach coordinator Paul Garner had to say about working with Bridge Builders Change and the Shelby County Youth Council:
“Having the opportunity to join and work with youth on this transformative intergenerational campaign has been an inspiring reminder of why we are committed to work for education equity. It’s exciting to join the planning calls each week to provide support to the CNC Youth Cohort as we develop strategy and action and meet with elected officials to ensure that all students in Shelby County, regardless of zip code, income, or race, have equitable access to comprehensive mental health services and to break the school to prison pipeline which often begins with policing in our schools.
Like many marginalized constituent groups, youth are often left out of conversations about policies and programs that affect them the most. When we do give youth a voice, it is filtered and through our perspective as adults. It has been a privilege to collaborate in a process where their voices are not just valued, but leads the conversation about solutions to the issues our young people face everyday.”
Learn more about the work our youth-based advocacy partners are doing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Memphis and Shelby County by watching this week’s episode of Cardell’s Soapbox on Wednesday, March 31st at 5:00 pm via Stand for Children’s Facebook Page.