Staff Blog: Community School to Prison Pipeline and Education Equity School Board Candidate Forum

forumFrom Julia Freeman:

On October 13, 2016 VRJ along with, BRIDGE incarcerated leaders, their families, MIGIZI Communication, HOPE Community Inc., Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, Hispanic Advocacy Community Empowerment through Research, League of Women Voters, and Solutions Not Suspension Coalition. Hosted a youth lead Prison to School Pipeline and Education Equity Community School to Prison Pipeline and Education Equity School Board Candidates Forum.

One of the goals of the Forum was to create a more personal environment for communities of color and American Indian community to engage with candidates.  The School Board Candidates were seated at tables with students, parents, organizers and education stakeholders. They had seven minutes to answer questions and had one minute to rotate to another table. This was a youth-led forum, the youth moderator Amir gave instructions for the evening and told the tables when to rotate. He also asked the final two questions of the night to Candidates who spoke from the front of the room. The youth at the tables the asked different questions “How will you support culturally relevant curriculum? Mario” The youth all had on name badges that said I’m eligible to vote in 20__ that to them felt powerful.

Another goal was to have the BRIDGE incarcerated leaders hear from those who have personally impacted by the School to Prison Pipeline. The incarcerated leaders recorded questions for the candidates to answer like “How will you work to remove those policies and practices that contribute to the school to prison pipeline?” We asked for all who attended to take notes to share with their constituents, parents, friends and neighbors.

When the Forum was over people said things like “this was telling because some of the candidates couldn’t answer some of the questions.” People called the event powerful, real and engaging. and were happy that it was community centered.

“I’ve never been this close to a candidate before and to able to speak directly to them was amazing.” Jhe’Nell Martin BRIDGE a family leader.

This was the ultimate outcome to have given the people the opportunity to elevate their power and voice so that they feel more civically engage. Remember to VOTE November 8th !r 8th !