Students 4 Change Crushing School-to-Prison Pipeline in St. Louis

Posted by: Gordon on 7/15/2015
Youth leaders of Students 4 Change, part of Metropolitan Congregations United

Youth leaders of Students 4 Change, part of Metropolitan Congregations United, who have won improvements to parks and playgrounds in north St. Louis and concessions from St. Louis and Normandy school superintendents on discipline code reforms. 

Study after study reveal the effects of racism, from unequal investment in schools and parks in communities of color to harsher treatment of students of color by police and school officials. 

The youth leaders of Students 4 Change did not need to rely on research alone to understand that, though – as residents of those communities, and students at schools in the Normandy and St. Louis school districts, they had personal experience with beat-up park equipment and harsh discipline at school.

Since they started to work with the organizers of Metropolitan Congregations United of St. Louis last fall, Students 4 Change has begun to organize their peers to disentangle, unravel, and root out the systemic racism that lives and thrives in their region.

Recently Students 4 Change held a public meeting in which they demanded that the St. Louis and Normandy school district superintendents decrease their schools’ suspension rates by: S4C young people strike a pose

  • Developing district-wide policies that list alternatives to suspensions 

  • Creating a student handbook with clear behavior guidelines and consequences 

  • Monitoring district progress on reducing suspensions 

  • Creating a parent newsletter that explains the negative effects of suspension

The superintendents agreed to all four demands. The group will continue to work to ensure that the districts implement these agreements during the coming school year. This victory came on top of another last spring: The Youth Council of Old North, a group of Students 4 Change members who live in the north city section of St. Louis, recognized that the lack of safe recreational space in their neighborhood contributed to poor health outcomes for them and their fellow students.

Through meetings with their aldermen and the St. Louis city parks director, the student leaders secured a $60,000 capital investment for repairs in two of their neighborhood parks.
What’s next for Students 4 Change? By canvassing homes in the Normandy School District, they hope to find new leaders who will join their campaign to crush the school-to-prison pipeline and lead to a truly equitable public education system.

-- By Jacob Blanton
To post a comment, you must be a registered user.

  |  Login

Tag Cloud