Let Her Learn: A Forum to Stop School Pushout in Virginia

Virginia policymakers will host Let Her Learn: A Forum to Stop School Pushout in Virginia on November 10th at the Virginia State Capitol to address race and gender disparities in school discipline. In Virginia, Black girls are 5.2 times more likely to be suspended than white girls, despite there being no evidence that Black girls misbehave more often. Research also shows Black girls are often punished for minor and subjective offenses, such as dress code violations or for “having an attitude.”

Youth suspended from school in Virginia are more likely to experience adverse academic outcomes. To address the impact of school discipline on equal access to education, the forum will include an opportunity for students, policymakers, and community leaders from across the state to discuss changes need to the current system.

“We are not fulfilling our constitutionally-guaranteed obligation to educate all students when girls of color are excluded from receiving an education based solely on something as trivial as their hair style or dress,” says Delegate Carroll Foy, who represents the Second House District containing parts of Prince William and Stafford County. Delegate Foy was the first public defender to ever serve in the Virginia General Assembly and now devotes her time as an attorney advocate representing abused and neglected children in court.

“For too long these issues have gone unaddressed in the Commonwealth. Now, through the Let Her Learn campaign, we are reshaping the way we think about our school discipline system by listening to girls,” says Foy.

Delegate Foy, along with Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, will deliver opening remarks at the forum. Other speakers will include RISE for Youth Executive Director Valerie Slater and RISE student advocate Lux Aghomo; Girls for A Change Girls Action Team leaders Danielle Freeman Jefferson and Solange Oliver; University of Virginia Institute of Education Science pre-doctoral fellow Lauren Mims; and National Women Law Center Campaign and Digital Strategies Manager Nia Evans.

“As a former teacher I know the importance of listening to students,” says Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This forum will be an opportunity to learn more about how black girls’ educational experiences are affected by school discipline and an important first step to working with students, teachers, parents, and advocates to ensure our school discipline policies are not interfering with our students’ opportunities to learn.”

Organization co-sponsoring the forum include Girls for A Change, Legal Aid Justice Center, National Crittenton, New Virginia Majority, RISE for Youth, State Innovation Exchange, and Virginia Civic Engagement Table.

Let Her Learn: A Forum to Stop School Pushout in Virginia will be hosted in House Room 1 at 1000 from 10-11:30am. To register to attend, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/let-her-learn-a-forum-to-stop-school-pushout-in-virginia-tickets-51301485123.

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