Promoting Dignity in New York City Schools

In New York City, only 65% of high school students graduate in four years, but only about 37% of Black and Latino male students graduate on time. Key factors contributing to this educational crisis are the negative school climates and harsh disciplinary practices, such as suspensions and police interventions, that alienate students and deny access to education. Research has shown that punitive, zero-tolerance discipline practices increase the likelihood that students will fall behind academically and even drop out of school. NESRI works in coalition with students, educators and advocates to change citywide policies to reduce suspensions and guarantee students' human rights to education and to be treated with dignity.

Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY)

The New York Chapter of the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC-NY) is a citywide coalition of students, parents, advocates, educators and lawyers calling for positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve the school environment, reduce conflict, and increase learning. DSC-NY develops policy recommendations to reduce suspensions and harsh school discipline, and also advocates for funding for Restorative Practices. The coalition members meet regularly with policy-makers, the Mayoral administration, and the Department of Education. We believe students, parents and educators have a right to participate in decision-making related to discipline policies in schools.

As a result of DSC-NY's work over the past five years, we have seen a 23 percent decrease in suspension rates citywide. But there is still work to be done. There were still over 53,000 suspensions in the 2013-2014 school year and racial disparities in suspension rates remain, with Black students being suspended at the highest rates.

Read our Platform for Positive School Discipline in New York City Schools


Teachers Unite for Student Safety

Teachers Unite is a grassroots organization that mobilizes teachers to work with community-based organizations to improve education.  In 2008, NESRI worked with Teachers Unite to document teacher views about how to make schools safe, improve learning environments and reduce the criminalization of students. Our collaborative report, Teachers Talk: School Climate, Safety and Human Rights, is based on surveys of more than 300 New York City public school teachers from 136 middle and high schools. It shows that teachers support a holistic, human rights-based approach to discipline that uses preventive and constructive strategies to create positive school cultures, teach behavior skills and use conflict resolution.