The youth members who were involved with the program YOUTH VOICE, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, have started a new organization. Over 30 youth, with the support of adults, created YouthVoice AdultAllies (YVAA), an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. The organization will be a first of its kind with an infrastructure where only youth are paid staff in the organization.
“Now that we have our own organization,” said Trevon Stapleton, junior at Cody High School, recent President of YOUTH VOICE and a founder of YVAA. “we have 100% control over what we do and the ability to partner with all organizations we want. I think we are at our greatest potential because we decide how we address the School to Prison Pipeline and luckily we have adults supporting us.”
The founding members of YouthVoice AdultAllies recently organized and participated in an 80-mile walk from Detroit to Lansing to advocate for a modification of zero tolerance policies and alternatives to suspensions. Members in YVAA received national attention and through a partnership with the Director for the Department of Human Services Maura Corrigan and the Michigan Board of Education, YVAA leadership believes legislation will be introduced to modify zero tolerance and stop suspensions for minor offenses like truancy in the upcoming months.
Kyle Guerrant from The Michigan Department of Education says an over-reliance to suspend and expel students for non-violent behavior creates significant barriers to learning, and increases the likelihood of academic failure, and students dropping out of the educational system all together.
“The youth in YVAA have support from many community allies and we know legislation will be introduced soon so our plan is to continue working with Michigan leaders to ensure we reserve the 180-day expulsion for only the most serious offenses, support schools to create alternatives to suspensions like restorative practices, and stop suspensions for truancy and uniform violations,” says Kayla Mason, YVAA adult member.
To learn about upcoming meetings and how you can get involved, visit Facebook.com/YVxAA
YouthVoice AdultAllies is an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. Visit www.YouthVoiceAdultAllies.org
for more information.