When Zakiya Sankara-Jabar’s son was repeatedly suspended from his Pre-K program, she was shocked at first. Eventually, she withdrew her son from the school but he was subsequently suspended and expelled at other preschools. After doing some research on the experience of Black boys in public education, Zakiya learned that her family’s experiences were not unusual. This was something larger, more societal, that was happening to African American parents.
It turns out that the school-to-prison pipeline starts in Pre-K, especially for Black boys. Suspensions are the beginning of the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to harsh and racially inequitable school discipline policies that push students out of school, onto the street, and eventually into the criminal justice system. In fact, Black students are three times more likely to be suspended as White students overall grades. When boys of color fail to graduate from high school, the lifelong impact can be devastating. Two-thirds of Black men without a high school diploma end up in prison at some point in their lives.
This month’s webinar will focus on the ways that parents, youth and communities of color are organizing to change zero tolerance and racially inequitable school discipline policy, address police abuse, and create restorative justice alternatives, including culturally relevant educational practices. Our presenters are on the front line of this movement, including Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, who turned her anger into action by starting Racial Justice NOW!, Mark Warren, author of the book recently Lift us up! Don’t push us out! Voices from the front lines of the educational justice movement, and Jonathan Stith, a founding member and National Coordinator for the Alliance Educational Justice.
We hope you’ll join us for this important conversation.
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar is the Co-Founder of Racial Justice NOW!
and National Field Organizer at Dignity in Schools Campaign
and is a leading expert in parent organizing and advocacy. Zakiya came to organizing, advocacy, and policy work organically as a parent pushing back on harmful school discipline policies that disproportionately impact Black students and their families. Zakiya's organizing and advocacy acumen has led to significant policy changes at the local and state level in the State of Ohio. Since then, Zakiya has worked in communities all across the country sharing tools, strategies, and skills with poor and working class Black parents. Zakiya has been named to the inaugural #Power50 leadership fellowship for women of color with Community Change
and most recently the Community Activist Fellowship with Wayfinder Foundation
. Zakiya is a preeminent thought leader in racial and education justice and has received numerous awards.
Jonathan Stith is a founding member and National Coordinator for the Alliance Educational Justice, a national network of intergenerational and youth-led organizations working to end the school-to-prison pipeline.He has 20 years of experience working with youth and community organizations to address social inequities. As the former Executive Director of the Youth Education Alliance (YEA), he was a critical leader in the School Modernization Campaign that won 3.2 billion dollars for school renovation and repair in the District. He was also a steering committee member of the Justice for DC Youth Coalition that successfully organized youth and their families to win critical juvenile justice reforms in the District. Last and most importantly, he is a father of three teenagers.
Mark R. Warren is professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Mark studies and works with community and youth organizing groups seeking to promote equity and justice in education, community development and American democratic life. Mark is the author of Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy, Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice, and co-author of A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform. He recently published Transforming Public Education: The Need for an Educational Justice Movement. Mark is co-chair of the Urban Research-Based Action Network (URBAN), a national network of scholars and community activists designed to promote collaborations that produce research that advances racial equity and social justice. He is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow and has been a W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University.