Here in Dallas, we have a lot to be proud of, and we love our city. But when it comes to our schools, we have a serious problem: the way students of color are treated.
Student of color face ongoing – and rising – challenges in school.
Our Black and Brown students are over-disciplined compared to white students, meaning, they're suspended, expelled, removed to alternative education programs, and even sent to the juvenile justice system at higher rates. That makes it harder for these students to learn and succeed in the long run, and it results in poor school culture and climate.
To make matters worse, the past 3 years have been deeply traumatic for kids of color – not only because of the instability from COVID-19, but because of the impact of images and threats of police violence against people who look like them.
And new Texas legislation requires every school (elementary, middle, and high school) to have an armed security officer while kids are in class, affecting school culture and exposing students of color to more “oversight,” exclusion, and harm.
Now, as kids have returned to classrooms, we must make sure they’re treated fairly and safely. Our students must be able to thrive.
Your investment today will make an immediate impact.
Your donation to the Texas Center for Justice and Equity will go directly to our work to promote students’ wellness and success in North Texas.
Specifically, we have a plan to expand a pilot program that administrators have called “an essential part of the operations” and “a natural benefit to our district.” And with your contribution, we can get started today!
How our program is different – and how it makes a difference for kids.
In 2022, our Dallas County Project Director – Leon Theodore – launched an ambitious internship and pilot program for DeSoto ISD schools to address and prevent in-school and out-of-school suspensions, and to improve school culture.
The program has three phases:
- Local graduate students in social work receive comprehensive training on school discipline, cultural competence, restorative justice techniques, youth mental health and community resources, and other issues.
- These students develop an Action Research Project specific to preventing exclusionary school discipline and improving student engagement.
- The graduate students work weekly with teachers, students, practitioners, and administrators in particular schools, utilizing their training and restorative practices (like relationship-building circles) to identify and repair harm, ensure accountability, and help keep students in their classrooms. Graduate students have also implemented their research interventions, including a ‘community closet’ with school supplies and food.
DeSoto practitioners have shared that the program gives them “the ability to service more students and have additional people to help model the [restorative justice] work.” Another said: “It was specialized for the people who are actually taking part in it, and it was also specialized for the context – our district is very unique.” These education professionals emphasized that “being able to have [the interns] visiting campuses and providing feedback to school leaders specifically on school culture, especially coming out of the pandemic, is super important.”
Join other North Texans in demanding supportive schools, productive classrooms, and greater success for each of our kids.
With your investment, we can expand this program to 3 other Dallas-area schools! If we don't act now, we'll see “business as usual” – more kids of color disciplined, more students forced from the classroom, more chances for them to be left behind.
Your donation today will help provide stipends for our graduate school interns and cover other program costs that are tailored towards each school.
Thank you for your generosity!
The Texas Center for Justice and Equity (TCJE) founded the P.E.P. (Perception Equals Potential) Initiative in 2020, seeking to address discipline policies in Dallas-area schools and push for a culture shift that provides opportunities for improved student outcomes.
Today, we are seeking donations to help us formally implement and expand a successful pilot program that we launched in DeSoto schools. Graduate students in social work will: (1) be trained on school discipline issues, (2) develop a restorative-based action plan, and (3) provide tailored, in-school services.
Any contributions made during North Texas Giving Day will help cover graduate student and program expenses, so we can strengthen our impact and ensure that more Dallas-area kids land on a successful path.