Dignity in Schools

New York City


Teachers Unite members serve on the Steering Committee of Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY), participate in campaign Member Meetings, and meetings with NYC decision-makers as well as internal campaign meetings to plan strategy. Our members contribute teacher voice on issues of racist criminalization in schools through testimony, press quotes, op-eds, and public speaking appearances.

Teachers Unite co-chairs the Pilot School Working Group which has:

• supported student and teacher leaders in 12 pilot schools to design and implement innovative and participatory approaches to discipline that have reduced suspensions and improved school climate

• created three case studies featuring schools piloting restorative practices, including many schools where Teachers Unite members work.

DSC-NY has developed a platform to shift school discipline policy in New York City public schools, calling on the Department of Education (DOE) to revise the Discipline Code, implement positive approaches in schools, such as restorative practices, and monitor data on suspensions and school-based arrests.

Accomplishments include:

Engaging the DOE to invest in restorative practices trainings for hundreds of teachers and support implementation of positive approaches to discipline at approximately 55 schools;
Winning revisions to the Discipline Code that eliminate classroom removal for most Level 1 behaviors (e.g. wearing a hat), eliminate suspension for all Level 2 behaviors (e.g. using profane language), give principals the option to use alternatives to suspension for more serious behaviors (e.g. fighting), and add new information on restorative practices and other interventions; and
Achieving a 27% decrease in suspensions citywide between 2011-2013.

We are also a member of the Student Safety Coalition which helped get the Student Safety Act passed and more recently, its amendments.


NYC Coalition Resources:

DSC-NY members include: Advocates for Children of New York, Center for Community Alternatives, Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Future of Tomorrow (FOT), Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), Make the Road New York, Mass Transit Street Theater, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, Sistas and Brothas United, Teachers Unite, The Sikh Coalition, Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change, Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), Ya Ya Network, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, and Youth Represent.


DSC-NY is the local chapter of the national Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC). Teachers Unite members participate in DSC's Annual Member Meeting, Days at the Capitol, and Week of Action, as well as lead workshops for DSC partners and provide consultations about building alliances with teachers. Teachers Unite is the educator organization represented on Dignity in Schools Campaign's national Coordinating Committee. Executive Director Sally Lee serves as a Co-Chair of the committee.

The DSC challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our nation’s schools and works to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. As a national coalition of 100 member organizations from across the country, DSC builds power amongst parents, youth, advocates and educators to transform their own communities and support alternatives to a culture of zero tolerance, punishment, criminalization and removal in our schools. DSC brings together its members through direct action organizing, public policy advocacy and leadership development to fight for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.

Accomplishments include:

Federal action to encourage districts to implement these approaches through

a) the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a joint effort of the Departments of Justice and Education, and

b) provisions in the Race to the Top-District program, requiring districts to address racial and other disparities in discipline to receive funding.

The release of the DSC Model Code, which has been used in local trainings with parents, students, teachers and district officials in 10 states and reviewed on webinars with 200 participants, including district and state officials.

To learn how to add your voice as an educator to these campaigns, contact anna [at] teachersunite [dot] net.