A group of New York City students, organizers and officials gathered Monday to condemn the school-to-prison pipeline they say is funneling students of color into the criminal justice system. Members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign have drawn attention to the disproportionate number of suspensions and arrests of African-American and Latino students as well as harsh penalties against students with disabilities. In the last school year, 52 percent of suspensions involved African-American students, who make up just 27 percent of the public school system. Democracy Now! spoke with 15-year-old youth leader Manny Yusuf.
Manny Yusuf: “My message to the next mayor is, you need to fix what Mayor Bloomberg did. You need to put more guidance counselors in our school. Take all the amount of student safety agents that you get in schools, take the amount of funding you give them, and give it to the school, give it to the Department of Education, so they can give it to our schools. If I was running a school, the perfect school for me would be more restorative justice, peer mediation, clubs in schools that actually the students actually want to go to and feel like they belong to, and no student safety agents and no metal detectors.”