YouthPower!

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YouthPower! is a youth-led program that builds the leadership and power of low-income Desi youth in NYC to win educational and immigrant justice.  YouthPower! members are ages 13-21 and attend NYC public schools, public colleges, and/or are low-wage workers.  Through political education and campaign skills development, we seek to build a new generation of working class community leaders, runs campaigns led by youth to change public policies that impact their own lives, and build alliances with youth of color across the city and nationally for power.

New York City public schools have a ‘push-out’, not ‘drop-out’ problem. In 2011, NYC public schools had 73,441 suspensions, the highest number in recorded history. High rate of suspensions leads to students from low-income, youth of color communities to miss days in school, fall behind in class and eventually get pushed-out of school. The use of suspensions and NYPD control of school safety has only funneled students into the School-to-Prison and Low-Wage Jobs Pipeline.

 

EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE:

‣ LOCAL CAMPAIGNS

Dignity in Schools Campaign- NY Chapter 

Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) is currently the most active national coalition of youth, parent, educator and advocacy groups working to end the School to Prison and Low-Wage Jobs Pipeline. DRUM YouthPower! is a National Coordinating Committee Member of the DSC National and a Steering Committee Member of New York. We are working to change the New York City Student Discipline Code  to require schools to use Restorative Justice, Peer Mediation, and Positive Behavior Support programs instead of suspensions and arrests. Since January 2012, YouthPower! has been working with Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens to reduce suspensions and increase graduation rates through a student run peer mediation program.

In January 2011, YouthPower! members won the campaign to pass the Student Safety Act, a groundbreaking law that requires the NYC Department of Education and the New York Police Department to report the number of suspensions, arrests and the race and gender of offenders. We have continued to pursue accountability from the NYPD and the DOE to report their numbers accurately.

— 91 % of the students suspended, according to the Student Safety Act data, are youth of color.
— 43,643 NYC Students who entered the 9th grade in 2006 did not graduate high school after four years.
— 25 days is the average number of suspension days for NYC students.

Partner: Dignity in Schools Campaign

Immigrant Students Rights: Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth

In June 2012 President Obama announced the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) process for undocumented youth.  Undocumented youth who meet the requirements will be protected from deportation and receive work permits for two years, with possibility of extension.  This victory has only happened because of the intense organizing by immigrant communities, including DRUM members. South Asians are the second largest undocumented population after Latinos in New York City. DRUM is currently hosting DACA legal clinics for South Asian youth in our community. Our work to gain full and just legalization for all undocumented youth and communities continues.  Youth and adult members will continue to mobilize and advocate with policy makers to pass full legalization for all in Congress.

Free Monthly DACA Clinics (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals) 

DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals) is a policy change that would stop the deportation of some undocumented youth and give them work permits for up to two years, which can be renewed indefinitely.   After Latinos, Asians are the second largest (22%) undocumented population in New York City. DACA is a huge victory for DRUM’s YouthPower! members and youth across the country who have been fighting for legalization for undocumented youth and families since 2000.

Since DACA was announced by President Obama on June 15, 2012, DRUM has been holding monthly clinics in partnership with AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense Fund) for undocumented youth in multiple South Asian languages for youth and families.  DACA is not a pathway to citizenship, but our organizing with youth who attend clinics will build their leadership to win full legalization for all.

This year, DRUM will be partnering with VAMOS Unidos, an organization of Latino immigrant workers and youth, to run joint monthly DACA Clinics for Latino and South Asian communities in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

If you are interested in learning more or want to schedule an appointment at our next DACA clinic in any of the boroughs listed above, please contact us at (718) 205-3036 or contact Roksana Mun, the Youth Organizer, at roksana@drumnyc.org

NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS:

‣ NATIONAL DIGNITY IN SCHOOLS CAMPAIGN

Supportive School Discipline Initiative

In July 2011 the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice announced a joint effort called the “Supportive School Discipline Initiative”, which will work with community groups and local school districts to address how to end the School to Prison Pipeline and the Zero-Tolerance discipline policies used to push out students from school. This major effort was largely due to the persistent organizing of many organizing groups, including DRUM, to end the criminalization of low-income youth of color. The SSDI will work to implement restorative justice, positive behavior support programs and provide resources in school districts across the country.  Youth and families will engage in “Listening Sessions” with federal and local stakeholders of education locally and across the country in the coming year.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

DRUM youth members, along with many organizations, have lobbied Congress to reauthorize the ESEA and continue to push for equitable funding for low-income, communities of color school districts.

The Successful, Safe and Healthy Students Act (SSHSA)

The SSHSA provides a smarter, cost-effective approach for supporting the health and success of students and schools. This bill includes funding and technical assistance for implementing positive, preventive approaches to school discipline like restorative justice and school wide positive behavior supports.

‣ ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE

AEJ is a national coalition of youth organizing groups from around the country working to build a movement of youth organizing for equity in educational access for all, regardless of race and income. DRUM is an active member working on stopping school closings and educational budget cuts across the country, access for immigrant students, a ‘Student Bill of Rights’, and ending the School to Prison and Low Wage Work Pipeline.

DRUM is currently a member of AEJ’s Strategy Team, a core body of organizations dedicated to sustaining and developing the growth of the alliance.Local Campaigns: Lawsuit for Racial Equity in Admissions to NYC Specialized High SchoolsPartner with NAACP LDF (Legal Defense Fund)NAACP, DRUM and education justice allies filed a complaint against the NYC Specialized High Schools challenging their admissions process which often excludes low-income students of color, particularly Black and Latino, but also some South Asian students across New York City. In particular, thousands of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Nepali students are grossly under-represented due to solely test score-based admissions that marginalize young people from often under-resourced NYC public schools. Although these students fall under the ‘Asian-American’ category, they are one of many low-income Asian student groups who are not being admitted in equitable numbers. DRUM along with NAACP-LDF will work with New York State legislature to advance for more inclusive and multi-pathway admissions process to NYC Specialized Schools.
‣ DREAM Act
DRUM YouthPower! has mobilized thousands of youth for Congress to pass the DREAM Act and full legalization for all.  Our youth members travel to D.C. to meet and tell their stories and demands to Congressional members, raise awareness in the media, speak around the city and country, and mobilize action alerts to Congress.  DRUM youth demand the DREAM Act, but want the current form amended to remove the military option as the only solution for students who cannot afford college, and instead want Congress members to re-introduce the “Community Service” option.

ALLIANCES:

— Dignity in Schools Campaign, National Coordinating Committee Member.
***NYC Chapter- Steering Committee Member
— Alliance for Educational Justice
— Youth-NAC (Youth National Anti-War Committee)
— UNAC (United National Anti-War Committee), Founding Member & Coordinator

 


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