Our platform is a statement of what we believe as an organization. Staff or board members work to develop any additions or changes. Organizational members and Board members vote twice each year to ratify on any proposed changes. Our current platform has 9 planks.
Too often, school disciplinary practices are unnecessarily punitive and result in unfair suspensions and expulsions which “push” children out of the classroom and into the streets. These practices have helped to feed the mass incarceration of black and brown people in this country. As we have cut counselors, social workers, and mental health resources, schools have been transformed into prison-like environments with security guards, police, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and even police dogs. We will work for fair disciplinary policies and practices in every school. Every person who interacts with children in the Pre-K - 12 system, including security and police, must be trained to work with children. Schools must be restorative centers that work hard to keep students in school instead of pushing them out. (Passed Spring 2018)
We know that in the U.S. many individuals and classes of people have been denied quality education based on their identity. In particular, we recognize the significant impact of racism on our society and schools. Racist and oppressive policies have played and continue to play a substantial role in shaping our education systems. We believe that all children have the right to an excellent education, regardless of the following identities: age, ability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, national origin, citizenship, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, immigration status, current or former incarceration status or any other identity an individual adheres. We oppose all forms of discrimination, oppression, and harassment and we will work to address the impact on ourselves, our organization, our society and in particular, our education systems.
Students who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACE)/trauma are more likely to have academic and behavioral problems as children and health and quality of life disparities as adults. We know that 13 of 30 youth have experienced 3 or more adverse childhood experiences. 1 in 3 urban youth experience mild to severe symptoms of PTSD. We will fight to ensure all students who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and trauma have access to trauma-informed schools and after-school programming. We will work toward building schools that support children in healing their childhood trauma. We will fight to ensure adults working with youth have access to best practice strategies, training, and the resources necessary to service students with trauma. (Passed Spring 2018)
BLIGHT, SUSTAINABILITY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM
We believe there is a strong connection between the physical environment that a student lives in and their state of mind. Our environment affects our behavior, our health, and our academic achievement. Lower income neighborhoods have less access to recycling and public trash cans, increasing litter. We reject the notion that only the personal choices of under-resourced communities are to blame for their deteriorated physical environment and that there are no systemic solutions to litter and blight. Instead, we will work for increased access to recycling and greater public resources for street maintenance and blight reduction in low-income neighborhoods. (Passed Spring 2018)
We know that closing a school does not improve education. The negative effects in the neighborhood can be devastating. In Detroit we have witnessed the chaos created by a lack of clear criteria for school closure, insufficient and misleading communication and the “school deserts” created in many neighborhoods. We will fight against closure of schools based solely on low achievement in standardized tests. We will fight for a coordinated system that includes parents, students, and community members in determining when schools need to be closed and the processes to bring about the closure.
FULL AND FAIR FUNDING
Students, no matter their race, background, or varying level of need, deserve a fully and fairly funded education. Despite a few individual exceptions, all students will not achieve high academic outcomes without the necessary resources. Money matters. We know that public education in the State of Michigan is severely underfunded, falling well below what experts and comparisons to leading states suggest. We will fight against efforts to defund public education, whether as a form of punishment or imposed austerity measure. We will work to increase funding for our students to full and fair levels that recognize the varying needs of students across Michigan so that all schools have the books, teachers, counselors, etc. that they need. (Passed Spring 2018)