Voices of Youth in Chicago Education

Building youth-led, community-based solutions to the dropout rate

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June 2012
VOYCE wins end to two-week suspensions!
Students at City Hall
In front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office in April, with 25 posters representing the 25 students arrested every day from school.

Today, the Chicago Board of Education votes on a new Student Code of Conduct that ends two-week out-of-school suspensions for minor offenses.


This is a huge victory for our campaign for safe and supportive schools. Last year, students lost over 300,000 days of instruction last year due to school discipline. Our victory means that students--particularly the Black, Latino and special education students who disproportionately receive extended suspensions--will no longer be cut off from school for weeks at a time. 


Osha Dancy at City Hall

VOYCE student leaders made their voices and experiences a central part of the debate leading up to the Board of Education vote. Last week, dozens of us rallied outside the Mayor's office to present our model Code of Conduct to his staff, and then delivered our model code to the Board of Education members at their offices. 


Keshaundra spoke about being arrested, at 13 years old, simply for walking past a fight. Mohamed spoke for the first time in public about being undocumented, and his fear that the overuse of school arrests would jeopardize his future. And Michael demanded action from CPS, calling out that "the time for justice is always now!"


Check out our coverage from Chicago Tribune and Catalyst Chicago, and the Chicago Public Radio call-in show that followed!


Ending two-week suspensions is a major victory. But there is still more to do to dismantle Chicago's school-to-prison pipeline. 


In the months ahead, we'll continue to fight for limits on suspensions, arrests and fines at all publicly-funded schools, including charters. We'll be fighting for public reporting on the use of these measures at all our schools, and for investments in the support systems and interventions that make us safe.


The time for justice is always now. Thank you for your support!


A chorus of voices calling for change...

Del Valle at VOYCE town hall
Senator Del Valle speaking at VOYCE's Town Hall in May.

This year, our student leaders have been at the forefront of the public debate on what makes our schools safe and our discipline code fair.


From Jasmine's powerful op-ed in the Chicago Tribune to Davisha's moving personal story accompanying the Chicago Sun-Times editorial, VOYCE students have been loud and clear in demanding justice.


And they're not alone. 


Last week, VOYCE coordinator Emma Tai fielded calls on a special Chicago Public Radio segment on school discipline. Check it out here!


And this week, Catalyst Chicago published an op-ed by campaign supporter Miguel Del Valle--former state senator and current chair of the Illinois P-20 Council--calling for an end to "foot-dragging" on school discipline reform. You can read Miguel's powerful piece here.

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth organizing collaborative made up of six community organizations throughout Chicago: Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Southwest Organizing Project and TARGET Area Development Corporation. For more information about VOYCE, visit  www.voyceproject.org.