Home News Center Press Release: NJJN Releases New Policy Platform on Transformational Schools

Press Release: NJJN Releases New Policy Platform on Transformational Schools

January 19, 2023

January 19, 2023
Contact: Courtney McSwain, 202-792-9915, mcswain@njjn.org

Transformational culture shift needed to ensure positive school environments
NJJN releases new policy platform on transformational schools

(Washington, D.C.)— In its latest policy platform, Mapping Transformative Schools: From Punishment to Promise, the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) calls on educators, school systems, and policymakers at all levels to come together to transform schools from systems of surveillance and punishment into positive environments that give all children opportunities to develop into successful young adults. NJJN’s policy platform provides recommended steps all stakeholders can take to transform schools into cultures of opportunity, starting with the central recommendation to prioritize investing in inclusive, trauma-informed and culturally responsive schools that create a supportive and connected school climate and community. Further, the organization states schools must end the practices and policies that lead to the easy criminalization of children, particularly Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ students.  

“Young people deserve to attend schools that inspire them to discover their dreams and passions - not create stress, trauma and fear associated with being surveilled and punished for every little mistake. We have the tools necessary to create opportunity-filled, positive learning environments for all students. We need the courage to embrace those tools and create a fundamental shift from punishment to promise. Further, we need the commitment to repair the harm of the school-to-prison pipeline that has most impacted Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled and LGBTQIA+ students,” said Tracey Tucker and Alyson Clements, NJJN Co-Executive Directors. 

Mapping Transformative Schools is grounded in the voices of young people who share their thoughts on what positive school environments need. M.X., a young person in California who was funneled into a punishment pipeline in the third grade, shares his recommendation for ensuring students have early and ongoing access to mental health professionals. “As soon as you start school there should be one designated person, a counselor, that is there during school hours and even after school. We should all have a designated person to talk to,” M.X. said. 

Kyla H., a young person in North Carolina, envisions a transformational school as one that fosters enthusiasm and excitement from students to pursue their gifts inside and outside of the classroom. “There should be a huge amount of school spirit — a student should be happy and proud to be there. We also need schools with diverse staff and leadership as well as organizations for minorities and leadership opportunities for those to advance outside of the classroom,” Kyla said.

M.X and Kyla represent just a few of the multiple voices of young people featured in Mapping Transformative Schools. Youth voices curated with the latest research and policy examples from jurisdictions across the country offer critical lessons for creating the positive school environment students deserve.

Click to read NJJN’s entire policy platform: Mapping Transformative Schools: From Punishment to Promise or visit www.njjn.org.


The National Juvenile Justice Network is an anti-racist, movement-building organization that aims to deconstruct harmful youth legal systems by providing advocacy support to our members, building leadership in youth and people of color, and convening a network ready to make change. We build power at the state and national levels to create a transformational shift away from policing and prisons toward a world that prioritizes community-based, trauma-informed and healing-centered responses to youth needs. Our work centers the needs of the most marginalized, and we seek a reimagined future where Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+ youth, and youth with disabilities have the freedom, resources and opportunities necessary to thrive. 

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