National Convening Agenda






7:00 PM-8:30 PM



Reforming School Discipline and Accountability: A Conversation with Leaders

Much is being done across the country to stop student pushout caused by discipline and accountability policies that disproportionately affect students of color. The conference will open with a facilitated discussion among leaders working on these issues – from judges and union leaders, to students and parents. They will discuss the problem, its impact on students, and solutions for a better approach.  There also will be robust audience participation.

  • Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project
  • Regina Butler-Streets, parent, Dignity in Schools Campaign and Gwinnett SToPP
  • Mo Canady, Executive Director, National Association of School Resource Officers
  • Thomas Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association
  • John H. Jackson, President and CEO, The Schott Foundation
  • Chief Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, Delaware Family Court
  • Harry Lawson, Associate Director, Human and Civil Rights Department, National Education Association
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
  • Geoffrey Winder, Senior Manager, Racial & Economic Justice Programs, Gay-Straight Alliance Network
  • Ahkeem Wright, youth member, Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education


8:00 AM-8:00 PM



8:00 AM-9:00 AM




9:00 AM-9:20 AM



  • Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project
  • Jonathan Brice, Network Officer, Office of School Support Networks, Baltimore City Public Schools

Orlando Armstead, Critical Exposure

9:30 AM-10:45 AM




Case Studies of Victory and Progress

There have been significant reforms in the area of school discipline from which we all can learn, and new communities take up the challenge of reform every day. This session will be a deep-dive into the efforts in Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California . We will discuss how districts are addressing the issue of excessive discipline in a comprehensive way, including what baseline problems were identified, what steps were taken to make change, and what finally resulted from these efforts.

  • Eldridge Greer, Manager of Psychological Services, Denver Public Schools
  • Ricardo Martinez, Co-Director, Padres y Jovenes Unidos
  • Minkah Eshe Smith, youth member from the Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC)
  • Moderator:  Edward Hailes, Jr., Advancement Project
10:45 AM-11:00 AM BREAK  

11:00 AM-12:15 PM




Protecting Those We Serve:                     Best Practices for Schools and Law Enforcement


If districts choose to have law enforcement officers present, stakeholder agreements can provide protections and protocols so roles and expectations are clear for all.  This session will include a discussion of how districts and law enforcement can work together to ensure that the presence of law enforcement does not criminalize routine discipline infractions.

  • Commander William “Bill” Nagle, Denver Police Department
  • Ricardo Martinez, Co-Director, Padres y Jovenes Unidos
  • Lisa H. Thurau, Founder and Executive Director, Strategies for Youth
  • Moderator: Kaitlin Banner, Advancement Project


Preventing Pushout: School Policies       and Practices that Work 


Many school codes of conduct over-rely on the use of exclusionary practices, such as suspensions.  This can lead to negative educational outcomes, especially for students of color, those with disabilities, and those who identify as LGBTQ.  Common sense policies can be put in place through a collaborative process between schools and communities.  During this session, we will discuss root causes, and examine successful and inclusive processes for change at the district level.

  • Will Keresztes, Associate Superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools
  • Andi Perez, Executive Director, Youth United for Change
  • Gayla Thompson, parent and member, Citizen Action of New York-Alliance for Quality Education
  • Karen Webber-Ndour, Executive Director, Student Support and Safety for Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Moderator: Geoffrey Winder, Senior Manager, Racial & Economic Justice Programs, Gay-Straight Alliance Network


Yes, There are Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion!

When punitive measures such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly used to deal with student misbehavior, huge numbers of youth are pushed out of school.  But there are alternatives to these exclusionary practices. This session will include a discussion of proactive efforts that districts, schools and individual educators can apply, including Restorative Justice, PBIS, and classroom management techniques that can help make harsh sanctions a measure of last resort.

  • Maisie Chin, Executive Director/Co-Founder, Community Asset Development Re-defining Education
  • Robert Spicer, Culture and Climate Specialist, Fenger High School, Chicago, IL
  • Matthew Guldin/Sarah Camiscoli, Teachers Unite, New York, NY
  • Moderator: Dwanna Nicole, Advancement Project


Race & Discipline:  A Candid   Conversation

Nationally, for decades, children of color have been most likely to be disciplined through suspensions, expulsions, and arrests.  Discipline rates are also high in schools where children of color are in the majority.  However, research shows these rates are not due to behavioral disparities.  Panelists will discuss the importance of addressing this issue head-on.  We will hear from school, community, and youth leaders who have partnered with their schools to address this troubling issue, and how some have managed to reduce these disparities.

  • Fay Brown, Associate Research Scientist and Director, Child and Adolescent Development for the School Development Program, Child Study Center at Yale University
  • Ramiro Rubalcaba, Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Ashley Franklin, Organizer, Labor/Community Strategy Center
  • Moderator: Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project


School Safety after Newtown

The recent tragedy at Newtown opened the door for a national discussion about safety and security in America’s schools. While some moved quickly to recommend an increased presence of law enforcement officers in schools, it is important to recognize that there are viable alternative school safety plans – plans that would achieve school safety and violence reduction without requiring an increased presence of law enforcement. This session will discuss these alternatives.

  • Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association
  • Angela Crews, Professor, Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology, Marshall University
  • Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • Representative from You Can't Build Peace with a Piece Campaign
  • Moderator:  Jim Eichner, Advancement Project


12:15 PM-1:00 PM LUNCH  

1:00 PM-2:00 PM



Implicit Bias and School Discipline – Connecting the Dots

In this session, we will explore the ways in which stereotypes and other environmental factors can produce racially disparate outcomes for our nation’s youth of color.  Through this conversation, we will expand the scope of what comes to mind when one thinks of the causes and consequences of inequality.

  • Phillip Atiba Goff, Professor, Department of Psychology, UCLA
  • Ahkeem Wright, youth member, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education


2:00 PM-2:15 PM TRANSITION  

2:15 PM-3:30 PM




Repeat 10:30 AM sessions listed above.


3:30 PM-3:45 PM BREAK  

3:30 PM-5:15 PM



Moving Forward

*Closed Press

During this session, you will have the opportunity to discuss what you have heard and share issues you have faced in your community in small groups. We will discuss strategies to help your community move toward more common sense discipline policies and practices.

5:15 PM-5:45 PM




  • Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project
  • Gay-Straight Alliance Network

Lockdown Play
A play about race, education and the American Dream.




8:00 AM-9:00 AM



9:00 AM-9:30 AM


Welcome & Opening

  • Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project

9:30 AM-10:45 AM




The Problem of High-Stakes Testing and  Its Effect on School Pushout

Having high standards is a laudable goal, but the use of high-stakes tests to reach this goal has not had the intended effect.  This session will discuss the various issues associated with high-stakes testing, with a particular focus on how it connects to educational justice and school pushout.

  • Isabel Nunez, Professor, College of Graduate and Innovative Programs, Concordia University of Chicago
  • Stan Karp, Director, Secondary Education Reform Project, Education Law Center
  • Monty Neill, Executive Director, FairTest
  • Moderator: Leah Kang, Advancement Project


10:45 AM-11:15 AM




Pushing Back Against High-Stakes Testing:  Successes From the Field

Participants will be led through a series of questions to discuss their personal reflections and experiences with testing.

  • Advancement Project Staff


11:15 AM-11:30 AM BREAK  

11:30 AM-12:30 PM




A View from the Frontlines: A Teacher’s Perspective on the Seattle MAP Boycott



Using the recent fight and victory in Seattle as a backdrop, teacher and social justice leader Jesse Hagopian will share his perspective on where we are in the movement today, testing as a pushout factor, and how we can achieve victory together.

  • Jesse Hagopian, teacher, Garfield High School; Associate Editor, Rethinking Schools





Eating & Reflecting

After a spoken word performance, participants will share and strategize together.

  • Woodrow Wilson Poetry Club
  • Advancement Project Staff
1:45 PM-2:00 PM TRANSITION  

2:00 PM-3:15 PM





Pushing Back Against High-Stakes Testing: Strategies from the Field

Across the country, students, teachers, parents, researchers, and others are collaborating to challenge their local testing regimes. Now is the time to share those stories – What worked? What obstacles did you face? What new ideas do you have?  What lessons have you learned? This is an opportunity to discuss your campaigns with others doing similar work in other places.

  • John Kuhn, Superintendent, Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, TX
  • Alexia Garcia, youth, Portland, OR
  • Quabeeny Daniels, youth leader, Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education
  • Moderator: Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director, FairTest
3:15 PM-3:30 PM BREAK  

3:30 PM-5:00 PM




Accountability Done Right: A Case       Study on the New York Performance Standards Consortium

Yes, there are alternatives to filling out multiple choice questions for hours on end to demonstrate mastery of a subject.  Across the country, there are pockets of innovative and comprehensive ways being implemented to measure learning.  Our speakers will highlight how process and politics can come together to better serve our youth. Participants will then come together to share their ideas for something different and what, if anything, we can do together.

  • Avram Barlowe, teacher
  • Mica Baum-Tucillo, graduate of a Consortium school
  • Ra'eed Isa Harris, graduate of a Consortium school
  • Terri Grosso, teacher

5:00 PM-5:30 PM


Tying it All Together

  • Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project
  • Monty Neill, Executive Director, FairTest