Dignity in Schools Campaign


The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our nation’s schools and advocates for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity. The DSC unites parents, youth, advocates and educators to support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment and removal in our schools.

The DSC started in 2006 when local grassroots and advocacy groups fighting to end school pushout came together to share information and strategies and build a common framework for dignity and human rights in our schools. In 2009, we held our first national conference, released the National Resolution for Ending School Pushout, and shared the first draft of a Model School Code based on fundamental human rights principles. In 2010 we held our first annual National Week of Action and our first Days at the Capitol, engaging groups around the country in collective advocacy to impact federal law and policy. In 2011, as our campaign continued to grow, we began a process to develop our membership structures to secure grassroots leadership in the coalition. In 2012 the DSC and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign launched a Moratorium on out-of-school suspensions and the DSC published the Model Code on Education and Dignity.

The DSC has now grown into a multi-stakeholder coalition made up of youth, parents, educators, grassroots groups, and policy and legal advocacy groups, which strives to ensure that those most affected by the education system and school pushout are at the center of our work and leadership structures. DSC’s Membership is structured to create a space for all to both contribute to the work and to benefit from the collective advancements of the coalition and local successes of its members.

What is School Pushout?

School pushout refers to the numerous and systemic factors that prevent or discourage young people from remaining on track to complete their education and has severe and lasting consequences for students, parents, schools, and communities. These factors include, among others, the failure to provide essential components of a high quality education, lack of stakeholder participation in decision-making, over-reliance on zero-tolerance practices and punitive measures such as suspensions and expulsions, over-reliance on law enforcement tactics and ceding of disciplinary authority to law enforcement personnel, and a history of systemic racism and inequality. These factors have an impact on all students, but have a disproportionate impact on historically disenfranchised youth.

What We Do

– Advocate for federal policy change to promote alternatives to zero-tolerance discipline through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, aka No Child Left Behind) and other federal initiatives.

– Support state and local campaigns by member groups to end pushout and implement positive approaches to school climate and discipline, such as positive behavior supports, restorative practices, conflict resolution and mediation programs.

– Develop model school policies for school districts and legislators that guarantee fundamental human rights standards for quality education, participation, dignity and freedom from discrimination.

– Share information on solutions to pushout and strategies for change through our website, tele-conferences, webinars, and national meetings.

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