The Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality formed around a crisis in both schools and prisons. The School District served 35,000 students in 1999, in a fast-changing demographic area. There was little support for the 4,000 non-English speaking students, and few student role models for any of the 29 cultures and languages served.
Oregon’s Measure 11, combined with dismal dropout, discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates for low-income, non-English speaking and racial minority students equaled disaster for our youth.
These statistics led directly to the wide achievement gap of over 40 points between students of color and white students.
We had to take action.
24 strong-minded, passionate volunteers of all colors and languages, with a single purpose of finding social justice and equality for our children, organized hundreds of community members through meetings, testifying in committees, volunteer civic involvement, media coverage, and rallies.
We raised awareness of the suffering of children and families, and the economic impact that their lack of upward mobility would create in our community.
We advocated for changes in:
- disciplinary practices
- cultural competency
- professional development for staff
- police involvement in schools
- researched academic programs
- special emphasis on non-English speaking students
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