When we started our End the School-to-Jail Track campaign ten years ago, the zero-tolerance policies that led to the suspension, expulsion, and arrest of students of color for minor misbehaviors constituted a problem with no name. We now know it as the school-to-prison pipeline, and our community-driven discipline reforms at Padres & Jovenes Unidos (PJU) have accomplished what many deemed improbable: we've pushed open the door of academic opportunity for students of color in an education system rife with discrimination, racism, and inequities.
Our new report, "Lessons in Racial Justice and Movement Building: Dismantling the School-To-Prison Pipeline in Colorado and Nationally," details our decade of policy and legislative victories—and most importantly, it offers lessons from ten years of organizing.
Paramount to our success was the realization that victory hinged on unity between people who truly understand systemic injustices. When we first started, our base and network of allies were almost entirely from the Latino community in Denver. In the last ten years, we've built a multiracial coalition that includes educators, the faith community, civil rights organizations, and others. Nationally, our ten-year partnership with the national civil rights organization Advancement Project has been critical to our success. Advancement Project used community lawyering and strategic communications to support community-driven reform. Coalition building like this among resource allies and other organizations has been critical to our success.