Wednesday, the 23rd of Jan, I had the opportunity to accompany a rock star community organizer Maggie Wilkens to the State Capital for the Senate Education Committee work group.
During this work session Katie from Washington Appleseed and Anne from TeamChild presented their report “Reclaiming Students,” (see earlier post). The Senate work group seemed genuinely interested in addressing the issues raised by the report. I am pleased that, not only are they interested in working on the problem but are presenting bills as we speak. And by bills in mean four! We’ll see how everything shakes out.
As many of you know, students are suspended and expelled every day in our public schools. There are clear negative effects on the youth. Youth who are suspended are more likely to get suspended again, fail a class, make contact with juvenile justice, not graduate on time (if at all), and ultimately more likely to end up in jail as an adult. The trajectory of these youth is a huge burden on our communities. These youth are less likely to be gainfully employed and become contributing members or our society. YET, this is not who they are, these youth have just as much potential as our top performing students. If we can keep them in school, we can create healthy, hardworking members of our communities. The key is to engage youth not send them away. We need to build healthy adult youth relationships. We need to make our schools places where youth want to be and want to learn. Invite youth back into our schools!