Ayanna Pressley is the first Black women to represent Congress in Massachusetts and she has been fighting for serious change. Her latest bill is to end discriminatory school discipline policies specifically targeting Black girls.
The bill is aimed to stop the “school to confinement pathway” and is titled “The Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-Based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma Act.” The Intercept reports it “would establish $2.5 billion in new federal grants for schools that commit to a set of measures aimed at overhauling the ways schools handle discipline. Schools receiving grants would have to agree to rewrite their discipline policies and include students, families, and communities in the process.”
The site also added, “They would have to commit to train educators in restorative practices and trauma-informed approaches, and invest in counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals rather than police officers. The bill earmarks $2.5 billion more for the Education Department to improve collection of civil rights data and strengthens the capacity of the department’s civil rights enforcement.”
Pressely told The Intercept “We have to end mass criminalization and punishment of black and brown children in schools… If those incentives were in place to promote mass incarceration, then we can also put in place incentives that promote decarceration. When you say, ‘What can the federal government do?’ This is what we must do, because we created these disparate outcomes.”
Dakota Hall, the director of a Milwaukee-based youth group that has helped to rewrite the city’s racist school discipline code said, “At a time when many are pushing for more punitive measures, like arming teachers and pushing cops into schools and students out of schools, this proposal highlights what we as organizers have been calling for years.”
A 2018 study from Contemporary Education Psychology. found that current and prospective teachers were three times more likely to view the faces of Black adults as being angry, as opposed to those of white adults. Educators-in-training also viewed the behaviors of students of color as being more hostile than similar actions performed by white kids.
The alarming study highlighted how students of color often get shepherded into the school-to-prison pipeline, which is exactly what Pressley is fighting against.
The bill is also co-sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.