2019 was an incredibly successful year in our ongoing fight to end the criminalization of Black girls in schools and to create safe and healing-informed spaces to improve their educational opportunities and outcomes.
In January, on MLK Day, we launched the #FreedomWork Campaign, a social media campaign for educators and advocates to share their healing-informed school models for Black girls and other girls of color to thrive.
The response was enormous! With the support of our amazing partners, we launched the campaign with digital billboards displaying #FreedomWork: Education is Liberation in the center of Times Square. And then, from Texas to California and Philadelphia to Miami, we received an outpouring of models and best practices of ways educators are showing up for Black girls in schools and helping to end school pushout. You can read more about our two featured models, Gwen’s Girls and Columbus City Prep School for Girls.
This September, our president and co-founder, Dr. Monique W. Morris, premiered her documentary, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools to a standing room audience at the Congressional Black Caucus: Annual Legislative Caucus with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (U.S. Representative for MA - 7tth District). Anchoring her work in the healing power of the narrative, Dr. Morris has traveled the country holding screenings and discussions, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and our leading HBCUs, to empower educators, parents, and policymakers to form empathic responses to the educational issues affecting Black girls in schools.
Then, just last week, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley introduced The Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-Based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma (PUSHOUT) Act, a bold new piece of legislation introduced to disrupt the school-to-confinement pipeline and invest in safe and nurturing school environments for all students, especially Black and brown girls in which NBWJI research is cited. “I am encouraged that our research and data is informing action and solutions aimed at advancing Black girls, and other girls of color’s educational opportunities and outcomes, as well as their safety and wellbeing,” says Senior Policy Fellow on Education and Reentry, Aishatu Yusuf, MPA who provided expert testimony at the briefing. “Schools must end the criminalization of Black girls and become non-punitive, nondiscriminatory, and safe learning environments for all students.”
We also released our latest report, “End School Pushout for Black Girls and Other Girls of Color: Federal, State, and Local Policy Recommendations”. This report amplifies resources, policies, and practices to create supportive learning environments where all students have the opportunity to succeed and where Black girls have access to a robust array of targeted services and support to propel them to a lifetime of success.
The full report and a one-pager can be viewed and downloaded at www.nbwji.org. End School Pushout graphics and social media assets can be viewed and downloaded here.
We are encouraged by our accomplishments this year and thank all of our partners for their collaboration and support.
We will continue working to place our girls’ needs at the center of education policy decisions until our schools are transformed into safe institutions for them to heal, learn, and thrive.