Dayton International Peace Museum hosts Racial Justice NOW! Director

Dayton Peace Museum

Thursday, November 10 , 6 – 7:30 PM

“Learn About the Work of the Organization Racial Justice Now”
Presented by Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, Executive Director, Racial Justice Now.

Zakiya is a Parent Organizer & Advocate, Co-Founder and Director of Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) in Dayton, Ohio.

 Read more about Zakiya Sankara-Jabar here:

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker

About Zakiya Sankara-Jabar

Zakiya is a Parent Organizer & Advocate, Co-Founder and Director of Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) in Dayton, Ohio.

Throughout her organizing and advocacy at RJN! Zakiya has trained, educated and acted as an advocate on behalf of other parents at suspension and expulsion hearings and at IEP meetings.

In addition, Zakiya is engaged in policy work at the local, state, and federal level pushing for systemic changes in how schools serve African American students and families.

Locally, Zakiya represents RJN! on the Dayton Public Schools Student Code of Conduct Committee and Policy Committee,and on the family and community engagement committee for the Dayton & Montgomery County Preschool Promise initiative. Additionally, Zakiya also represent the RJN! on the Miami Valley Black Health Coalition, the Dayton Community Police Council and the Kinship Care Coalition of Dayton-Center for Healthy Communities.

Statewide, Zakiya represents RJN! on the steering committee for the Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance and works in close partnership with the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and the Ohio Poverty Law Center.

Nationally, Zakiya is the Co-Chair of the Dignity in Schools Campaign which is a national coalition of youth, parents, educators, lawyers and advocates working to ensure children are treated with dignity and fairness in schools.

Zakiya is the recipient of several awards including the “Drum Major for Justice Award” from the Dayton Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Dayton’s own  “Black Excellence Award”  from the Dayton Chapter of the Nation of Islam.

Zakiya studied Organizational Leadership at Wittenberg University and worked as a human resource specialist for the State of Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities for nearly 11 years before transitioning to her role as Co-Founder & Director of RJN!

Zakiya resides in Dayton, Ohio with her husband H.A. Jabar and their 2 children.


Study: Black students not closing gap in local school districts; Data from all Montgomery County school districts shows struggle over multiple years

Study: Black students not closing gap in local school districts
Data from all Montgomery County school districts shows struggle over multiple years

By Jeremy P. Kelley – Staff Writer
Dayton Daily News

Posted: 6:22 p.m. Friday, January 27, 2017

Black students, especially boys, in Montgomery County have not improved academically the way their peers have over a period of years, a point leaders of Learn to Earn Dayton called “incredibly sobering” at an event for community leaders Friday.

>> RELATED: Preschool plan seen as path to long-term improvement

The agency’s Know the Gap, Close the Gap report, using data from all Montgomery County school districts, shows that by a variety of measures — kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, college retention — years of legally required “gap closing” efforts have not had the desired effect locally.
Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings talks about helping challenged students.

“African-American students, especially boys, come in behind and stay behind, and in many instances, the gap actually widens,” said Ritika Kurup, director of early learning at Learn to Earn Dayton. “The data is heartbreaking. … Less than 3 in 10 African-American boys reaches proficiency (under Ohio’s test-based definition) at any time during their K-12 career.”

Tom Lasley, CEO of Learn to Earn, said he remains optimistic because the area’s focus on preschool and other early-childhood education is too new to show up in test data that doesn’t touch this school year.

>> RELATED: Dayton schools took big step despite low grades

“There’s going to be a delay of a year or two before you see any movement in those numbers. I do think (the early childhood approach) is the right way,” Lasley said. He thinks improving black students’ performance should be important to everyone. “That population represents one of the great untapped assets for our region. Unless we can figure out how to deal with that, we’re all going to be compromised in terms of what we’re able to accomplish (as a community).”

Staff Writer
(A crowd of Dayton-area leaders listens to University of Wisconsin professor Gloria Ladson-Billings discuss equity in education Friday, Jan. 27, 2017.)

Gloria Ladson-Billings, professor of urban education at the University of Wisconsin, was the keynote speaker at the event. She encouraged a holistic approach to helping poor students and black students, saying issues like health and housing and after-school activities need to be considered right alongside K-12 curriculum. But she said that’s different from just having sympathy for at-risk children.

“The teacher may say, well, she has such a tough environment (and not require hard work),” Ladson-Billings said. “You have a responsibility as an educator. You can’t just be sympathetic toward her without teaching her. In some classrooms, students are given permission to fail, rather than demanding success.”

Ladson-Billings encouraged people to change their approach, renaming the “achievement gap” as an “education debt” instead. She said no one wants to leave debt to their kids, so society needs to figure out different ways of investing in education to change the results.

Amaha Sellassie, a local sociologist and researcher who has helped lead Martin Luther King Day events in Dayton, said the challenges are practical application of those ideas, and the persistence to get hopeless youth to believe there are opportunities worth pursuing.

“In a lot of communities there’s very little after school for African-American youth, or they can’t pay to get in, or don’t have transportation,” Sellassie said. “Beyond just the classroom, what supports do we have in the community? I sense a willingness right now within the clique of impact here, to go about this a different way.”

Sellassie and Hashim Jabar of the West Dayton Youth Task Force emphasized the importance of making curriculum culturally relevant to the students being served. Lasley and Ladson-Billings agreed but said the teachers in those early grades may be even more important. And Kurup said while poverty has an impact, that alone doesn’t explain the numbers.

“The data has stayed flatter than we want to see, to achieve our big vision of ALL of our children being ready,” said Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton. “These are not random Census data points we’ve pulled down. These are our kids. … We invite you to help us, and roll up your sleeves.”

U.S. Budget Priorities Are Flawed

August 30, 2016

To the Editor:

In the midst of nationwide calls by communities to end police brutality, a July 8, 2016, post on Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog covered a report by the U.S. Department of Education indicating that states and cities across the country have increased spending on prisons and jails at triple the rate of funding for public education in preschool through 12th grade (“Corrections Spending Grows at Triple the Rate of School Funding, Ed. Dept. Reports”).

Clearly, our nation’s budget priorities aren’t where they should be, and U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. agrees. Upon the report’s release, the Education Department issued a statement from King noting that “budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited.”

If we continue to divert resources from public education and allocate them for jails and prisons, mass incarceration will continue to proliferate.

We must increase public education budgets to incorporate the implementation of conflict-resolution models in schools that will help educators address trauma, violence, and misbehavior, among other issues. Such models will function to create safer schools and communities. We must also shift funding from school police officers to counselors, peace builders, and positive-discipline models in schools for the same reason.

The Education Department notes that a key finding in the recent spending report is that “over the past three decades, between 1979-80 and 2012-13, state and local expenditures for P-12 education doubled from $258 billion to $534 billion [in constant dollars], while total state and local expenditures for corrections quadrupled from $17 billion to $71 billion.” Let those numbers sink in.
Our country represents 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we hold more than 20 percent of the world’s incarcerated population. We must continue to hold decisionmakers accountable for addressing this systemic problem and demand that our schools receive equitable resources whereby youths can access quality education and be treated with dignity.

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar
Co-Chair, Dignity in Schools Campaign
Executive Director, Racial Justice NOW!
Dayton, Ohio

Vol. 36, Issue 02, Page 21
Published in Print: August 31, 2016, as U.S. Budget Priorities Are Flawed

What To Do Instead of Calling the Police

A Guide, A Syllabus, A Conversation, A Process

So, you understand that the police force in the U.S. upholds a system of racialized violence and white supremacy. You know that, when police get involved, black people, Latinx people, Native Americans, people of color, queer & trans people, sex workers, women, undocumented immigrants, and people living with mental illness are usually in more danger, even if they are the victims of the crime being reported. You know that police violently escalate peaceful interactions and murder black people with impunity every single day in this country.

But, your neighbor is setting off fireworks at 3am, or there’s intimate partner violence happening outside your window, or you see someone hit their child in public… What do you do? What do you do instead of calling the police? How do you keep yourself safe without seeking protection from a system that is predicated upon the surveillance and extermination of others?

We start by shifting our perspective. We start by learning about the racist history of the police. We start by saying, an alternative to this system should exist. We start by pausing before we dial 911. We start by making different choices where we can. We start by getting to know our neighbors and asking them to be a part of this process.

Below is an in-progress list of resources on alternatives to policing, which range from the theoretical to the practical. It’s my intention to eventually synthesize best practices from all of the below resources and include that write-up here. If you’d like to add to or suggest a correction to this list, please email me (Aaron Rose) at aaronxrose at gmail dot com or alternativestopolice at gmail dot com. I’m currently taking responsibility for developing and managing this document, but if other people would like to help, or think I should be doing things differently, I’m happy to work with you and/or transfer ownership. [Edit: Thank you to everyone who has contributed and reached out so far. I’m responding to emails as quickly as I can!]

A theoretical starting place from Taj James on Facebook:

“White people. I love you! You are stretching in this moment to try to figure out what you can do and how to do more. I have an idea:

In addition to talking with other white folks about how heartbroken you are about the latest round of murders of Black people by the police. In addition to getting your family to share how they feel and declare their solidarity and linked fate by putting up a ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ sign in their window at home or at work. In addition to supporting Black-led direct action and policy campaigns. In addition to making large donations to organizations who are a part of the Movement for Black Lives and to the families of those who have lost loved ones. In addition to doing the basic, hard and essential work of reconnecting white people to their lost humanity and our shared humanity, what if the next step might be to say:

“White friends and family, I think we are better off without the police. I think we might be safer, happier, healthier if there were no police. In addition to fewer Black people being killed by those police our life would be much better. I am starting to think we are better off without them. That we don’t need them. That if we shut them all down today and transferred all the resources they control to communities to set up systems of community safety and accountability we would all be much happier.”

What we need is structured and dramatic transition from an old system that does not work to a new system that does. My gut is that when white people are able to say “Having no police is better than what we have now” that will reflect the willingness and courage needed to make a fundamental transition from an old system to a new one.

An utter, fundamental and unequivocal rejection of the system we have is necessary to create the political will for a JUST TRANSITION to what we need.

I invite you to explore this possibility to start discussing it with other white people. I have a feeling that until white people, a lot of white people, are clear that we don’t need the police, that the system we have is not reformable and we are better off with no police than the ones we have now, then the murder of Black life by the police will not end and will likely escalate as the movement to hold those systems accountable produces more fear and backlash from the people in those systems that are feeling their unquestioned power and authority to dominate and control challenged.

The police exist to protect white people and respond to white fear. That is their core function. That is what white supremacy means in practical terms. So until white people say “We don’t need you, we don’t want you killing for us anymore, we are going to stop paying you to kill for us, you’re fired.” Then the killing will likely continue and escalate.

Anyone up for the challenge? Let me know. Try it out and see what kinds of conversations it generates. I have other posts on my page with more context for this if you are feeling courageous and bold.”

What To Do Instead of Calling the Police

A New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Call the Police (Truthout)

Alternatives to Policing (Justice in Policing)

Alternatives to Police (Rose City CopWatch)

Alternatives to the Police (McGill Daily)

Audre Lorde Project’s Safer Party Toolkit: How to run a safe party that doesn’t need police presence to maintain safety. (Español | Zine version) (some content is NYC-specific)

Big Dreams and Bold Steps Toward a Police-Free Future (Truthout)

Calling Someone Other than the Cops (The Atlantic)

Chain Reaction: Alternatives to Policing (

Creative Interventions Toolkit: An incredible organization created by Black and Asian feminists that interviewed people about what they did to intervene in partner abuse and sexual assault without the state. This is one of the things they created – a huge guidebook with tons of concrete examples, stories and tools for how folks have done this work.

Critical Resistance Abolitionist Toolkit

Imagine Alternatives: Finding Ways Not to Call the Police (Caroline Loomis): An open letter, a resource list, and some great exercises for stretching your imagination to consider why you call the police and how you might make different choices and build alternatives in the future.

INCITE!’s Stop Law Enforcement Toolkit

INCITE!’s Community Accountability Best Practices

Nashville Feminist Collective: Feminism in a Prison Nation: An amazing resource list examining carceral feminism, an approach to gender-based violence that sees the criminal legal system as the primary solution.

Policing is a Dirty Job and Nobody’s Gotta Do it: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World (Rolling Stone)

Stop Violence Everyday: Another project of Critical Interventions, lots of stories of folks intervening in partner abuse and sexual assault.

Ten Lessons for Creating Safety Without Police: A Reflection on 10 Years of the SOS Collective

The Revolution Starts At Home: A book co-authored by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinh, Ching In Chen, and Jai Dulani about abuse inside activist communities and how folks have dealt with it without the cops (was out of print, is now back in print).

Transformative Justice Resource List (

Vikki Law: Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons

What To Do When Someone is Having a Mental Health Crisis on the Street (SF Bay Area specific)

Alternatives to Policing Projects / Organizations / Tools

Audre Lorde Project’s Safe Outside the System (SOS) seeks to empower community members to be proactive in preventing anti-LGBTQ violence, intervene when violent situations arise, and build stronger relationships between LGBTQ people of color, our allies and the community as a whole.

BYP100 Case Study in Community Accountability

CAHOOTS (Eugene, Oregon): “Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets provides mobile crisis intervention within the city limits of Eugene, dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center. Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) & a crisis worker (who has at least several years experience in the mental health field). CAHOOTS provides immediate stabilization in case of urgent medical need or psychological crisis, assessment, information, referral, advocacy & (in some cases) transportation to the next step in treatment. Many, but not all, of our clients are homeless.”

Cure Violence stops the spread of violence in communities by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms – resulting in reductions in violence of 40% to 70%. Note: this program is now state-sponsored, which some people feel undermines its efficacy and sustainability.

People’s Community Medics: An organization created by Black women in East Oakland that is a community controlled alternative and/or addition to calling 911 for emergency medical care. They created it after the ambulances were just not showing up or cops were showing up first.

Philly Stands Up: An organization that works with folks who have committed sexual assault or partner abuse who want to take accountability.  This is their document where they talk about how they work with perpetrators.

Richmond, CA Case Study
Apps for Coordinating Community Crisis Response (instead of calling the police)

Buoy (mobile & desktop app): A community-based crisis response system.

(developers’ chat room for troubleshooting set up | user-to-user support forum | github wiki | if you need additional help figuring out how to set up Buoy on your site, Maymay may be able to help:

Resources on Racism & The Police

Corinne Werder on the History of the Police

Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves On Race and Racism

Advocates Working to End Harsh School Discipline That Leads to Dropping Out, Jail

Activists concerned about disciplinary policies that force students out of school and into the justice system will gather in cities across the country this week to make their case for reform.

In Boston, they plan to fan out to ask their peers about their experiences with school discipline, results they will pass on to city school administrators.

In Miami, the community will gather for a Forum on Black Lives focused on local county and school board races to ensure school discipline is on the agenda.

And in Dayton, Ohio, organizers will release report cards that show how every school system in the state is performing on disciplinary measures, data that’s collected but not publicized by state officials.

The events are part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s 7th annual Week of Action to raise awareness about school pushout.

The campaign’s supporters argue schools are too quick to punish students harshly, especially students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

In Pittsburg, supporters of the Solutions Not Suspensions Campaign spoke on Monday at a school board meeting about the importance of ending school push out.

Suspensions and expulsions can cause students to leave school and lose direction in their lives, ultimately ending up in the criminal justice system, a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline, they say.

This year, the national campaign will stress five key reforms:

  • Shift funding from school police officers to counselors and peace workers;
  • Fund and use restorative justice and mediation practices;
  • Stop arresting and pushing students out of school, especially students of color, LGBT youth, youth experiencing homelessness and students with disabilities;
  • Make sure officials focus on a healthy school climate as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act; and
  • End paddling and other physical punishment.

Since the campaign launched a decade ago, communities are increasingly aware of the importance of paying attention to disciplinary policies, said Nancy Treviño, a spokeswoman for the campaign.

The federal government has released recommendations on discipline, cities and states have adopted new policies and media organizations are more likely to tell the stories of communities concerned about school pushout.

But, much work remains to be done, organizers say. The politics of every community vary, making the implementation of policies that stress alternatives to suspension or promote restorative justice the next hurdle for advocates, Treviño said.

Ten years ago, school administrators had to be introduced to concepts like school pushout, said Ruth Jeannoel, lead organizer at Power U Center for Social Change in Miami. Now they know more but still sometimes have to be prodded into following through on proposed policies or informing students of their rights, she said.

“There’s a lot of work that has happened, but of course there’s a lot more to do,” she said.

In Boston, advocates long have enjoyed a good relationship with city school officials, said Tina-Marie Johnson, a youth worker at Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation.

Each year, advocates share their findings from the surveys youth take of their peers to make the case for where reforms still are needed. And organizers update the survey each year, to be sure they’re addressing new issues that may have arisen and capturing as much data as they can about whether some populations of students face harsher consequences than others.

“We want the conversation to be inclusive of all members of the school community, especially those who [are] affected the most,” Johnson said.

Hashim Jabar, director of the West Dayton Youth Task Force, said data is critical for making the case to school, local and state officials, but he also wants families to spend time understanding what’s happening in their local schools.

“The community as well needs to know more and stand up for themselves and take the information and use it to be empowered,” he said.

In additional to the local events, a national event with speakers and music is planned for tonight in Pittsburgh, with a livestream available for those in other locations.

Advocates Working to End Harsh School Discipline That Leads to Dropping Out, Jail

By Sarah Barr | October 20, 2016

Preschool the unusual wrinkle in Dayton income tax plan

DAYTON — The most unconventional part of Dayton’s proposed income tax increase facing voters on Nov. 8 is the attempt to make high-quality preschool available for every 4-year-old in the city.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and some local education leaders say they hope to create a domino effect that helps the city’s children, families and economy for decades to come.

Some opponents of the plan question why city government is getting involved with schools, whether the project will be accountable to voters, and whether the language of the ordinance is strict enough.

The vote on Dayton’s 0.25 percent income tax hike will be, in part, a decision on whether major preschool expansion is a good tool for solving Dayton’s education and workforce problems.

If voters approve Issue 9, Dayton’s income tax rate would rise from 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent for eight years. The increase would not apply to pensions and Social Security. City officials estimate that 70 percent of the people who pay the earnings tax work in the city, but live elsewhere.

Why this path?

Learn to Earn Dayton is among the leaders of the effort. CEO Tom Lasley cites broad research, including work by Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, linking investment in early childhood education with individual success and community economic gains.

Whaley said education affects the success of the community now.

“When we try to attract any kind of business, the first question is, well, what does your workforce look like?” Whaley said.

Learn to Earn officials cite a domino path starting in the first years of life – statistics show children who grade “ready for kindergarten” at age 5 are much more likely to read proficiently by third grade. Solid third-grade readers are more likely to eventually earn high school diplomas, and graduates are more likely to have a positive impact on their communities.

So cities across the nation are adding focus to preschool education, trying to get more students ready at age 5. Preschool mainly falls outside the K-12 state funding of public schools, so Dayton is trying a city tax levy.

Cincinnati Public Schools’ levy next month would include $15 million per year for preschool expansion, and Cleveland’s PRE4CLE program has expanded access there.

Dayton officials said they have traveled to cities such as Denver and Boston that are further along to study them and avoid repeating their mistakes.

In 2014-15, only 14.5 percent of Dayton students tested “ready for kindergarten” at age 5, compared with 35.7 percent countywide and 37.3 percent statewide, according to Learn to Earn data. Local officials want to boost those numbers.


Zakiya Sankara-Jabar of Racial Justice Now worried that this preschool effort wouldn’t have the accountability of a public school or the same commitment to equity for students from different backgrounds.

At a public forum this month, local activist David Esrati questioned why the program would be run by a non-elected board that voters could not hold accountable.

And former Mayor Gary Leitzell, now running for Montgomery County commissioner, criticized the services that would be provided, suggesting on Facebook that most Montgomery County children would be kindergarten-ready by age 3 if they consistently watched “Your Baby Can Learn” DVDs.

“Government should NOT be subsidizing a babysitting service for working families,” Leitzell wrote.

Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Learn to Earn, said they are taking equity and transparency concerns seriously. She mentioned providing diverse resource material and training in cultural competency. If the measure passes, Lightcap said the nonprofit board would have open, public meetings with “full transparency on how funds are spent.”

What would happen?

An ordinance passed by city commission calls for more than $4 million of the $11 million that would be raised annually to go toward making high-quality preschool available.

Lightcap said a nonprofit agency will be set up to handle the money, award contracts and manage the preschool effort, with the seven board members appointed by the Dayton and Montgomery County commissions. The county eventually hopes to take preschool access countywide.

Lightcap said more than 80 percent of the money would go toward two things – sliding-scale tuition assistance for families, and efforts to increase the quality of existing preschool options. She said close to two-thirds of Dayton 4-year-olds go to preschool now, but only 40 percent attend high-quality programs, and research shows quality is key.

“We’ll be providing very intensive coaching in the classroom … making sure that they have a high-quality curriculum in place and effective classroom behavioral management systems,” Lightcap said. “And the family engagement piece is critical. If you build a strong connection between the parents and the education system in the early years, that follows through K-12.”

Dayton Christian Center on Riverview Avenue has risen from unrated to three stars in Ohio’s five-star quality system. Executive Director Tasha Johnson said it requires hard work by school directors on staffing, by teachers on professional growth, and by families on getting involved.

Johnson said finances are a common obstacle. The poorest families have access to Head Start preschool or publicly funded childcare. But a family of four making $32,000 or more would not qualify for either, and could face a $10,000 annual cost for full-time child care/preschool.

“You add in rent and other expenses, and it’s totally unaffordable,” Johnson said. “For that lower-middle income person, it’s hard.”

Ready for Kindergarten?

Percentage of students scoring in top band on state readiness test (three-year average):

Dayton: 19.8

Northridge: 28.4

Huber Hts: 36.1

Kettering: 47.9

Centerville: 53:5

Oakwood: 65.2

Source: Learn to Earn Dayton