Oakland Unified, ERA & Alliance for Girls Team Up to Disrupt the School to Prison Pipeline

March 7. 2016

A photo of three girls wearing matching t-shirts that say "Stop blaming my body for your harassment. Thanks."

By Rebecca Peterson-Fisher

Across the country, students of color — and Black girls in particular — are suspended at much higher rates than white students. Suspension has the power to not only damage a student’s future academic success, but, if repeated, can pose the risk of pushing a student out of school and into the criminal justice system.

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and Alliance for Girls, a Bay Area organization that counts over 100 Bay Area girl-serving organizations as its members, have entered into an exciting new partnership designed to reduce suspension rates for girls of color and lift up their academic achievement.

With input from ERA and other member organizations, Alliance for Girls is informing the development of a district-wide equity policy in OUSD that will both set forth the district’s vision and guide its allocation of resources going forward.

In 2015, ERA conducted an investigation into 116 school districts’ adherence to Title IX requirements to provide a safe and equitable educational environment for both male and female students. Following that investigation, we produced recommendations for schools to ensure equity – and we hope that OUSD will be able to implement them.

Utilizing ERA’s research, Alliance for Girls is working to ensure that the language of OUSD’s equity policy commits the district to addressing issues of gender equity along with racial equity and other forms of bias. Once the new policy is in place, ERA will work with Alliance for Girls and others to draft recommended regulations designed to put its principles into practice in Oakland schools.

Drawing on the practical knowledge of Alliance for Girls’ member organizations, the partnership will bring a gender-responsive, culturally sensitive, strength-based, and trauma informed approach to working with girls in Oakland schools.

“Alliance for Girls has 25 organizations that are based in Oakland and doing gender responsive, culturally relevant work with girls of color every day. They have a unique understanding of the barriers girls of color face,” says Executive Director Emma Mayerson. In addition to utilizing the expertise of its members, Alliance for Girls is conducting a series of focus groups with girls of color who are OUSD students in order to develop resources for the district that will target their particular needs.

We are proud to be a part of this work to leverage incredible community resources for female students in the Oakland Unified School District. To learn more about our investigation into Title IX in K-12 schools and education equity, read our report Ending Harassment Now: Keeping our Kids Safe at School for more information.


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