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Students, Families and Teachers Kick Off a 'Drive for Dignity' to Keep Youth on Track

Students, families and teachers kicked off a Drive for Dignity on Tuesday, May 24, to put the focus on major efforts to keep students in school and “on the road” to their future. The car parade drove past three South L.A. high schools -- Fremont, Manual Arts and West Adams Prep -- on its way to a rally at the L.A. School Board.

The car march recognized recent progress by the Los Angeles Police Department and local schools to reduce the number of truancy tickets written to students and cut the number of out-of-school suspensions.

“In the past it seemed like students, parents and schools were in different cars going in opposite directions on how to educate youth,” said Judy Verduzco, a social worker at Public Counsel. “Now we’re all driving for dignity.”

"We're trying to have people rethink the language -- it's not students dropping out, it's students being pushed out by the ways that schools and police are interacting with the students."

What is Dignity in Schools?

The Dignity in Schools L.A. campaign is part of a national movement and includes children’s advocacy groups Public Counsel, CADRE, the Children’s Defense Fund - California, Community Rights Campaign, and the Youth Justice Coalition. The Dignity in Schools L.A. three-part plan will keep youth in school and on the road to their futures:

• Fight truancy with teachers, parents, and students – not police and courts: In April the Los Angeles Police Department adopted new guidelines to reduce thousands of curfew tickets and the court fines and lost class time that come with them.

• Give students positive support – not suspensions: LAUSD schools in South L.A. announced breakthrough steps in April to reduce out of school suspensions in a letter to parents, particularly for African American students.

• Expand opportunities for college and career – not the prison population: Turning schools into community centers and creating youth jobs will reverse the trend of students being pushed out of school and into unemployment or prison.

Learn more: Click here to read the report "Redefining Dignity in Our Schools" (pdf).