April News: ELC pushes for an end to suspensions of young students; PA charter school law needs big revisions; new online resource to help youth in the juvenile justice system
ELC joins students, parents, teachers & advocates to push for an end to K-5 suspensions in Philly
Education Law Center, alongside One Pennsylvania, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Youth United for Change, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym, and other community members, has formally asked the Philadelphia School Reform Commission to end suspensions for students in first through fifth grade. According to Pennsylvania's most recent Safe Schools Report, the District meted out 615 suspensions to Kindergarteners, 1081 to first graders, 1779 to second graders, 2192 to third graders, 2295 to fourth graders, and 2260 to fifth graders during the 2015-16 school year. ELC is also advocating for related statewide legislation to protect elementary school students. 
In Pittsburgh, ELC teams up with advocates to end exclusionary discipline for young learners
With our partners in Pittsburgh, ELC is pushing Pittsburgh Public Schools to limit suspensions for young learners, starting in preschool.  Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately excluded from school, even when they exhibit the same or similar behaviors as their white and non-disabled peers.
ELC opposes harmful revisions to PA charter school law
In letters to both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the House Education Committee, ELC opposed HB 97, a bill that would significantly weaken charter school accountability measures. The state  charter school law should not force expansion of charter schools on already burdened systems without ensuring that they adequately serve all children, including at-risk student populations. Although HB 97 passed the House, ELC will be closely monitoring related legislation in the PA Senate in May.
ELC hosts roundtable on systemic barriers facing Black girls
ELC was honored to host a roundtable on systemic barriers impeding Black girls' access to education in Pennsylvania at our Philadelphia office this month. We plan to continue to host these discussions and learn from students as we push back against policies that deny Black girls and other at-risk youth access to the education to which they are entitled. 
ELC: Arming PA teachers and school personnel a mistake
While we share the desire of all community members to protect students and ensure schools are safe places, arming teachers and other school personnel is not the appropriate way to do so. ELC, along with other community advocates, has strongly opposed SB 383, a bill that would allow school personnel to carry firearms in Pennsylvania schools. Children are far more likely to be injured by self-inflicted gunshot wounds or in an accidental shooting resulting from another person's handling of an improperly stored or unsecured firearm than they are to be injured in an intentional act of gun violence while at school. Please call your legislators and ask them to oppose SB 383.
ELC presents at legal education seminar on rights of students, barriers to access
ELC joined partners at Duquesne Law School for a continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the Allegheny County Children's Roundtable this month. ELC attorney Cheryl Kleiman presented on the barriers that students face in accessing education as part of a day-long seminar on how attorneys can help ensure educational success for students in the juvenile justice system. 
New website provides resources on educational success for youth in the justice system
ELC is thrilled to announce the launch of a new website focused on youth educational success - Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. The site is a project of The Legal Center for Youth Justice and Education (LCYJE) - a national collaboration of Southern Poverty Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center, and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. It is a resource for adults who serve justice-system involved youth and youth themselves to achieve educational success. 
ELC: Schools must identify and address mental and behavioral health
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook published an article by ELC Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney on the need for schools to identify and support students with mental and behavioral health needs. Without the appropriate plan and supports, a child may struggle academically and socially, is more likely to be chronically absent, and is far more likely to be subject to disciplinary exclusion, such as suspension.
What we're reading (and watching)...
  • An article in Newsworks that profiles the growth of Andrew Jackson School in South Philadelphia and the impact of gentrification and immigration on the city's schools.
  • An article in NPR on the success seen from combining high-quality Pre-K instruction with family support services in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.
  • An article in Newsworks describing the perverse incentives the state's special education funding scheme provides to charter schools.
  • A video from the National Women's Law Center on the impact that schools can have on students who experience sexual assault.
Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding
Alongside more than 50 organizations across Pennsylvania, Education Law Center is a leading member of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Click below to read more about our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where he or she lives.
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