On December 12, 2012, POWER-PAC leaders, Lynn Morton and Rosalva Nava attended the very first-ever Congressional hearing on the School-to-Prison Pipeline. IL Sen. Dick Durbin chaired the hearing which was filled with hundreds of parent and youth leaders from other member groups of the national Dignity in Schools Campaign. It included testimonies by a former Chicago Public Schools student, advocates, and legislators on the problems with the school-to-prison pipeline and strategies that are effectively addressing the issue.
POWER-PAC was invited to the hearing in recognition of the progress they’ve made on this issue since they launched theirElementary Justice Campaign: Redirecting the School-to-Prison Pipeline Campaign in 2004, including the removal of “zero tolerance” from the Chicago Public Schools’ Code of Conduct, replaced with “restorative justice” and the recent victory reducing maximum out-of-school suspensions from 10 days to 5 days.
In POWER-PAC’s written testimony, they cited the success of their campaign in making changes to the policies and culture with the Chicago Public Schools, talked about their parent-led Peace Centers in the schools, which are effectively reducing suspensions and incidents of misconduct, and called upon the federal government to support these grassroots, community-led solutions.
POWER-PAC stated, “We as parents and grandparents look forward to that day when schools know that reducing student pushout, eliminating racial discipline disparities, and improving school climate, is as high of a priority as academics and test scores. That’s the only way we can end the school-to-prison pipeline and put our children on the pipeline to success.”