Members of Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous communities have been leading efforts to build affirming school environments and culturally responsive and celebratory curriculum for decades. They have also been working to create community-based educational initiatives to expand learning opportunities. Across the state, many students, parents, educators, advocates, and community members are now focusing on making schools antiracist and free from prejudice. These efforts are critical to ensuring a safe, supportive, respectful, and affirming learning environment for children of color.
You can learn more about these antiracist initiatives here.
Students deserve affirming and safe school environments that celebrate them for who they are and provide robust opportunities to learn. Schools have a legal obligation to ensure that students are not denied opportunities, treated differently, discriminated against, or harassed because of their race, color, or national origin. Schools must have policies and procedures to prevent and address bullying and harassment based on race and must ensure equal opportunities for students of color.
Under federal and state laws as well as the U.S. Constitution and Pennsylvania’s Constitution, racial discrimination is illegal, and there is no place for it in our schools. Learn more here about your rights and what you can do if your child is facing racial discrimination in school.
A new report recommending strategies for policy makers to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and address disparities in school discipline was issued by the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in April 2021. The report, which draws on testimony from 20 local and national experts at two public briefing sessions, is called “Disparate and Punitive Impact of Exclusionary Practices on Students of Color, Students with Disabilities and LGBTQ Students in Pennsylvania Public Schools.”
The report presents data illustrating the discriminatory nature of exclusionary discipline and its disruptive and harmful impact. Recommendations include banning exclusionary discipline for nonviolent offenses, implementing positive behavioral supports and trauma-informed restorative practices, improving data collection, and increasing funding to devote to creating positive school climates. ELC executive director Deborah Gordon Klehr served as a member of the advisory committee.