(December 8, 2019 – WASHINGTON) – During a press conference recently, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) introduced a law that would end the punitive pushout of girls of color from schools – The Ending (P.U.S.H.O.U.T.) Act. P.U.S.H.O.U.T means Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma. The Ending PUSHOUT Act recognizes the harmful ways in which Black and Brown girls are criminalized at school.
“The Ending PUSHOUT Act – the first bill stemming from the People’s Justice Guarantee – aims to dismantle the school-to-confinement pathway by establishing trauma-informed policies in schools and creating an ecosystem within our schools where all girls can heal and thrive. As the Trump Administration actively works to roll back protections for our most vulnerable students, we must work in partnership with the community to develop holistic solutions that center the lived experiences of girls of color who have been most impacted by cruel and discriminatory school policies and practices,” Congresswoman Pressley said.
Here is the CBS This Morning story about the announcement of this piece of legislation: CBS This Morning Story about The Ending PUSHOUT Act
Dr. Monique W. Morris, the executive producer of PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School documentary and the author of PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School (The New Press, 2018) is among the many entities who endorse the bill.
“Girls at greatest risk of experiencing school pushout are those who experience racial bias, violence, traumas and other disruptions that negatively impact their capacity to realize their potential risk as scholars,” said Dr. Morris, “The Ending PUSHOUT Act is an opportunity to align federal policy with research-based best practices in education which provide the conditions for schools to be locations for healing so that they can be locations for learning.”
Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, National Crittenton, Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, National Women’s Law Center, Joanne Smith, Girls for Gender Equity were also present during Congresswoman Pressley’s and gave remarks during the press conference.
After the announcement, there was a briefing about the bill and a panel discussion led by Congresswoman Pressley and Congresswoman Ilhan Oma (MN-05) which included youth, researchers and policy experts. Namely:
• Dr. Monique Morris, Author/Filmmaker and President of NBWJI National Black Women’s Justice Institute
• Samaya Dillard, the youngest student featured in the documentary film, PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
• Aishatu Yusuf, Senior Policy Fellow, National Black Women’s Justice Institute
• Sadé Ratliff, Student, Stonehill College
• Oumou Kaba, Former Member, Young Women’s Advisory Council, Youth Speaker for Girls for Gender Equity
• Ana Corona, Former SIS Member, Youth Speaker for Girls for Gender Equity
• Khaloni Freemont, Youth Activist, Member of the Omaha Tribe in Macy Nebraska
During the panel discussion, the youth participates narrated heart-wrenching accounts of their PUSHOUT experiences in their schools. These moving testimonies personified and humanized the great need for The Ending PUSHOUT Act.
Under The Ending PUSHOUT Act:
1. $2.5 billion in new federal grants will be used to support states and districts that commit to ban unfair and discriminatory school discipline practices and improve school climates.
2. A Federal Interagency Taskforce will be established to End the School Pushout crisis and its impact on girls of color.
3. The Civil Rights Data Collection will be protected and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will be strengthened by a $2.5 billion investment for additional enforcement and monitoring capacity.
Co-leads of the bill are:
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Founder the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05)
Member of the House Education and Labor Committee
“Punitive approaches to education do not help our children get an education. I am so proud to work on this bill with Representative Ayanna Pressley to create safe and nurturing school environments—by investing in trauma-informed policies, enforcing civil rights laws, and establishing a task force to end this crisis,” said Congresswoman Omar.
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in this fight to cut off the school-to-prison pipeline and ensure black and brown girls are able to use the ladder of education to reach their dreams,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman.
PUSHOUT is a feature-length documentary that exposes the educational and judicial disparities African-American girls face in the United States. It is a film by Jacoba Atlas and Monique W. Morris and produced by Women in the Room Productions, owned by executive producer Denise Pines and director Jacoba Atlas. Funding is provided by NoVo Foundation, Meadow Fund, Ford Foundation, Ms. Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Stuart Foundation and Films for Purpose.
The film includes heart-wrenching stories from girls (from ages 7 to 19), across the country (Miami, FL; Portland, OR; Oakland, CA; Sacramento, CA; Columbus, OH) as they narrate the challenges they have encountered in their learning environments and beyond. PUSHOUT also features insight from experts across the country who have worked in social justice, gender equality and educational equity.
For additional information, visit www.pushoutfilm.com.
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