SWOP Youth and the Student Bill of Rights
In March of 2013 the New Mexico Legislature passed Senate Memorial 62, sponsored by Senator Linda Lopez, and recognized a statewide Student Bill of Rights. In this video, students from the youth program of the SouthWest Organizing Project talk about the process of creating the bill, from talking to fellow students, to planning and refining the final document, to educating their representatives at the New Mexico Capitol.
Here is the New Mexico Student Bill of Rights as it was developed by the SWOP Youth with students around the state:
Student Bill of Rights
This student bill of rights is proposed with the purpose of establishing the basis for a fair, safe, and engaging learning environment for the students of New Mexico. These rights have been compiled through a series of workshops in collaboration with the SouthWest Organizing Project and students across different schools in New Mexico.
Students shall have freedom from discrimination.
Students have the right to a learning environment where discrimination in all forms is not tolerated by administration, school security, or students. Administration, school security, and students shall be encouraged to participate in anti-discrimination and cultural proficiency training, which would promote principles of equality, engage students in a culturally sensitive manner, and support a culturally sensitive curriculum.
Students shall have access to extracurricular and afterschool programs.
Extracurricular activities and afterschool programs are important mechanisms through which students prepare for life after high school, including their ability to successfully access higher education, and otherwise develop their minds, talents, and perspectives. Students shall be provided the means and support to access after school programs and request to form new clubs that fit their interests.
Students shall have information, resources, and support to prepare them for life after high school, and shall be highly encouraged to pursue higher education.
Students shall be highly encouraged to pursue higher education and shall not be discouraged based on any discriminatory factors. Students who choose to pursue college shall have the right to access college readiness counselors who will assist them in their transition into higher education. Students who choose to enter the workforce shall have the right to be prepared through information, training, and job placement assistance.
Students shall have equitable school and classroom environments.
Students have the right to an equitable school and classroom environment, where classroom sizes are small and buildings and materials are in good condition; where creative approaches to teaching are encouraged; where respect and open communication between parents, teachers, community organizations and students are encouraged; where building strong inter-generational relationships is valued, and where schools are fully funded in order to achieve these goals.
Students shall have affordable and nutritious food.
Proper nutrition is essential to the development of physical, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing. Students shall have access to affordable and nutritious food in the school environment.
Students shall have access to bilingual education.
Students have the right to become fluent speakers and thinkers in the languages important to their fully-rounded development as human beings who are able to excel in their cultural, familial, and economic environments. For this reason, students have the right to bilingual education. This includes bilingual after school programs, the option to have integrated multilingual classrooms, and the right to speak any language while in schools.
Students shall have full protection of their constitutional rights while in schools.
Students have the right to a learning environment free of cruel and unusual punishment, including the use of excessive force by security. Students have the right to freedom of speech and of the press; and the right to petition and peacefully assemble with the purpose of improving the school, classroom, and/or learning environment. Students have the right to due process, to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and to be free of searches of personal property by security, administration, or staff without reasonable cause, and to have their parent’s notified if such searches occur.
Students shall have safe and secure public schools.
Students have the right to schools that seek alternatives to the police presence, that are free of immigration enforcement, that are free from the criminalization of youth, that seek alternatives to suspension and expulsion policies, and where students have access to a clean slate each year.
Students have the right to access violence and gang prevention, peer based mediation, and intervention programs on campus.
Students shall have the right and the opportunity to organize themselves and self-represent in important school decision-making processes.
Students have the right to self-representation in district meetings whether through a committee or a self-started group without being tokenized, or dismissed due to age. Students shall be afforded space to safely dialogue about aspects of their learning experience and understand how the school budget works and is allocated. Students shall have notification of district and staff meeting times and places and have the right to organize collectively when issues arise that affect the whole student body.
Students shall have easy access to a copy of the Student Bill of Rights, including the right to amend this document when necessary and when concluded that such amendments will improve the learning environment.
For more information please call Youth Organizer Emma Sandoval at (505)353-2941 or visit the SWOP Youth Facebook page.