In 2010, Gamaliel’s African American Leadership Commission issued a challenge to our network as a whole to address the issue of education:
Achievement scores, dropout numbers, high school and college graduation rates, and disparities in school funding are more than just statistics. These are facts that affect our children, grandchildren, fellow parishioners, friends and community members in a most personal manner.
The Civil Rights Movement began with an education struggle – separate but equal was declared illegal. Today education in America is still separate and unequal. Education is either a path to a bright future or a conveyor belt to the economic junk heap of history.
Impelled by our AALC leaders, Gamaliel partnered with groups like the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, American Federation of Teachers and others to train hundreds of community leaders from across the country in the work of education organizing and advocacy.
Those individuals have led Gamaliel and its affiliate organizations to save millions of dollars in public education resources — from keeping a multicultural high school open in Buffalo to adding pre-k seats in Kalamazoo to addressing discipline policies in Sonoma. Our education campaigns work broadly to end racial inequities in our education system and leverage greater resources for community schools and early-childhood education. Currently our work includes:
School discipline including suspensions and in-school restraint and seclusion
Gamaliel affiliates are pushing hard for an end to expulsion and suspension as well as in-school restraint and seclusion policies. These policies disproportionately affect young men of color and children with disabilities. That has included creating restorative justice programs in high schools and building on the successful “Peace Hubs” model of delivering wraparound services to youth while advocating on their behalf.
Maintaining quality neighborhood schools & investing in our children
Gamaliel is a founding member of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a coalition of hundreds that has come together around a common commitment to publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools.
Strong local schools are an integral part of the powerful local communities we train our leaders to protect and develop, so it is natural for us to support local governance, respect for our teachers, and the need to make our schools welcoming and respectful places for all.
We have won millions of dollars for early-childhood education and grown the number of Pre-K For All all seats in school districts from upstate New York to Michigan and elsewhere across the country. Nationally and in states and metro regions across the country has led fights to save schools from closure in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere around the country.