The Harm of Zero-Tolerance Policies

The zero-tolerance policies that were instituted several decades ago have entrenched an ineffective and prejudiced disciplinary system. 

Research demonstrates that zero-tolerance policies have failed to make schools safer as evidenced by a ten-year study conducted by the American Psychological Association. Scholars have alternatively discovered an inverse relationship in which schools that enforce zero-tolerance policies report higher rates of suspensions and expulsions. They also have comparatively lower ratings regarding the overall school climate and an increased likelihood of academic underperformance.

The policies spark fear within students through the subconscious knowledge that they may be suspended or arrested at any moment. They cultivate an environment wholly antithetical to that expected and intended. Schools should be a student’s safe space for students to learn and grow – never the beginning of their criminal record. 

Leaving school before receiving a degree gravely damages an individual’s ability to thrive. Dropouts are exponentially more likely to struggle to obtain a job and earn sufficient income to support themselves.

Students who have been suspended or expelled are more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated as those who graduate. Students who attend poorly run schools constitute 60% of the federal prison inmates and 75% in state prison. 

However, few anticipated the far-reaching consequences that stem from these policies. Proponents of harsh disciplinary policies believe zero-tolerance policies will deter future misconduct, although this theory has been disproven. Research demonstrates that school suspensions do not reduce the likelihood of disruption but that they actually predict higher future rates of misbehavior and suspensions.

The ineffectiveness may be centrally traced to the tendency of punitive punishment systems to address the topical manifestation without considering the root cause of misbehavior. They isolate students and foster a predisposition for future struggles.

School suspension is the primary predictor of contact with the justice system for students to become incarcerated. Schools are increasingly outsourcing discipline to police departments, which precipitates a drastic increase in the number of youths in the juvenile justice system. Police arrest 2.2 million minors across the nation, and 1.7 million of these cases are referred to juvenile courts. It is estimated that almost 48,000 youth are confined in juvenile jails, prisons, boot camps, and other residential institutions on any given night. 

The majority are minority students: during the 2009–2010 school year, 70% of students arrested in schools were African American or Latino. Bias is a critical issue of zero-tolerance policies as the punishments assigned are often far too severe to be merited by minor offenses and so, from a young age, students learn to distrust authorities. 

Latino students are three times more likely to be suspended, expelled, and referred to the criminal justice system than their white peers that commit the same infraction, an issue merely worsened by the growing presence of student resource officers. They are intended to bolster a school’s safety, but interact with minorities at disproportionate rates, leading many students to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

In California, a school board president, Mark Sanchez, asserted their district should terminate their contract with the San Francisco Police Department. During a school board meeting, he contended, “[a]ny money that we are spending on this program is not OK. It sends a horrible message to our students of color.”

An advocacy organization, Black Parallel School Board, who advocates for black students, echoed his message, claiming “[p]olicing in our schools teaches young people that they are viewed as criminals, not scholars.”

The growing trend to remove police from schools also stems from officers’ ability to use force, the extent of which is not necessarily merited. The Houston Chronicle reported that police officers in eight of the largest school districts in the Houston area had used force at least 1,300 times between 2011 and 2015 against students and trespassers. Like many across the nation, the officers drew firearms, fired pepper spray, hit students with nightsticks, or brought in police dogs.

In one instance, Noe Niño de Rivera spent an excess of 50 days in a medically induced coma after the sheriff assigned to his school tased him. He had interfered to stop a fight but fell backward and hit his head once the officer intervened. He has since struggled to regain his quality of life with impaired vision, balance, and memory.

However, Noe’s story is not unique. Many students have suffered mentally and physically as a result of zero-tolerance policies and their correlation with increased security and policing. 

AVDA at a Crossroads: the Anti-Violence Movement & Racial Justice

The first blog post of a series on evoking change

As part of the anti-violence movement, AVDA stands at a monumental crossroads at a historic moment in time, and we recognize the role we can play in racial justice. We remain steadfast in our mission to end family violence, especially as we see injustices levied on the defenseless. The same forces of power and control that abusers use were at work in the senseless death of George Floyd, and our hearts are heavy. However, we are inspired to assess and understand how systemic racism relates to our work in the anti-violence movement and do all that we can to help eradicate the harm it has on those we serve.

For four decades, AVDA has served the Greater Houston area in its mission to end family violence through its Legal Advocacy Program and Battering Intervention and Prevention Program. Although domestic violence occurs in every culture regardless of socioeconomic, educational, and religious background, we recognize that violence disproportionately affects marginalized groups, especially those who experience multiple forms of oppression.  The root causes of violence are inextricably interconnected. We cannot end gender violence unless we also work to end all oppressive systems:  patriarchy, sexism, racism, nationalism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, audism, anti-Semitism, religious discrimination, and xenophobia/anti-immigrant sentiment.

On the one hand, we realize that deep-seated, systemic racism and the inequities that disadvantaged communities of color in the past are still woven into the fabric of our institutions today, from education and housing to the criminal justice system, which mass incarcerates and punishes more harshly people of color than white people. On the other hand, AVDA and our partner domestic violence service providers must take inventory of our oppression, power imbalances, and racism within our organizations. 

We are committed to change—both within our organization and in the communities that we serve. Please follow us on our journey and help us by committing yourself to social and racial justice. 

These articles informed this blog post:

https://vawnet.org/news/why-it-important-bring-racial-justice-framework-our-efforts-end-domestic-violence
https://vawnet.org/material/how-can-movement-building-support-our-efforts-social-change-and-collective-thriving

MINARET FOUNDATION APPLAUDS US STATE DEPARTMENT FOR ACKNOWLEDGING UYGHUR GENOCIDE

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Brooke Prieskorn, Communications Coordinator
brooke@minaretfoundation.com

281-660-7880


HOUSTON, JAN. 20, 2021 – Minaret Foundation was pleased to hear, in a statement made yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that the US State Department has formally recognized China’s actions against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities as genocide. 

“Today marks a major milestone in our fight against the ongoing Uyghur genocide,” says Minaret Foundation Sr. International Relations Associate Samra Hafeez. “We are hopeful this will encourage other countries to follow suit, and that international pressure will force China to reevaluate their actions.”

“This statement signals not only a change in our relationship with China in the coming years, but also in the realignment of U.S. policy with its fundamental beliefs, namely that all men are created equal, and deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” said Minaret Foundation Board Member  Imam Dr. Waleed Basyouni.

For decades China has been working to make Uyghur life untenable, including sending up to two million Uyghurs to internment camps, where they’re subjected to religious and political indoctrination programs, and also to forced sterilization, abortion, and separation of family. 

These policies have one purpose: to eradicate the Uyghur people, and are in direct opposition to both the values represented by the United States of America and those we hold as people of faith. We are pleased to see our great country defend these values through the denouncement of China’s actions.

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Minaret Foundation’s mission is to uplift American Muslim voices for sustainable change through multi-faith and civic engagement. We are a non-sectarian organization and a 501(c)3.

Press Release on UH Bomb Threat

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com
281-660-7880

HOUSTON-AREA FAITH LEADER JOINS MINARET FOUNDATION TO CONDEMN BOMB THREAT 

HOUSTON, SEPT. 11, 2020 – Minaret Foundation and local Houston-area Imam Waleed Basyouni condemn the recent bomb threat made to the University of Houston during a college class Zoom session. 

The alarming news is incredibly troubling and does not represent the ideology and beliefs of Muslims locally, nationally, and worldwide. 

“We were deeply troubled upon learning that a bomb threat was directed towards the University of Houston,” said Shariq Abdul Ghani, Director of Minaret Foundation. “We must all work together to keep our communities safe from harm.”

Clear Lake Islamic Center Imam Dr. Waleed Basyouni joined Minaret Foundation in speaking out against this act of violence.

“The actions this individual has displayed go against Islam’s teachings and everything Muslims stand for,” said Basyouni. “I join the Muslims in our community to unequivocally condemn the act.”

About Minaret Foundation:
Minaret Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization committed to lifting American Muslim voices to create change through multi-faith and civic engagement, since 2010.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Naheeda Spencer, naheeda@minaretfoundation.com, 281-660-7880

The Arrest of Zul Mirza Mohamed

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com
281-660-7880

MINARET FOUNDATION COMMENDs THE ARREST OF ZUL MIRZA MOHAMED – 

HOUSTON, OCT. 9, 2020 – Minaret Foundation and board member Imam Waleed Basyouni commend the arrest and charging of  Zul Mirza Mohamed with voter fraud.

“This arrest has made us reassured that mail-in voting is still a safe way for casting our vote because it is something that is being watched and scrutinized,” Basyouni said.  “I am glad that this criminal act was caught.  Our elections are being watched by great men and women who care about the integrity of the process.”

The investigation and swift response by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office and the arrest of Zul Mirza Mohamed gives us confidence that the elections are being monitored closely and upheld to the highest integrity.  

Minaret Foundation values the fair and just democratic process our founding fathers have instilled. We encourage everyone to be vigilant, to vote, and to maintain trust in the electoral process.

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Minaret Foundation’s mission is to uplift American Muslim voices for sustainable change through multi-faith and civic engagement. We are a non-sectarian organization and a 501(c)3.

Press Release for Candidate Q&A Forum

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com
281-660-7880

MINARET FOUNDATION HOLDS WEEKLY Q&A FORUMS WITH CANDIDATES FROM KEY RACES

HOUSTON, SEPT. 11, 2020 – Earlier this week, Minaret Foundation launched its weekly live Candidate Q&A series, featuring 16 candidates from critical races across the Houston-area and the state.  

This unique series is the first to feature a diverse range of candidates and is accessible to viewers across the state and the nation.

Every week, leading up to November, the organization will be interviewing one or two candidates in key races, such as Federal, State, and a few local races, including Sheriff and District Attorney.

View here → http://www.minaretfoundation.com/candidate

This week’s first live session of the series featured Harris County District Attorney candidate, Mary Nan Huffman, speaking with Minaret Foundation Director, Shariq Abdul Ghani.  In the coming weeks, the forum will also feature the incumbent in the race, Kim Ogg, among many other races.

“Our 45-minute conversations with the candidates are meant to highlight some of their fundamental platform positions and relevant domestic and international concerns,” Ghani said. “Depending on the candidates we’re speaking with, our questions about domestic issues will surround education, healthcare, relational policing, and all forms of hate.”

The series will be broadcast live on Minaret Foundation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel each week.  Viewers are encouraged to send in their questions.

Confirmed Candidates

Wednesday, 9/9: Mary Nan Huffman for Harris County District Attorney

Tuesday, 9/15: Sri Kulkarni for Congressional District 22

Thursday, 9/17: Jay Sittleburg for Texas Senate District 4

Tuesday, 9/22: Ed Gonzalez for Harris County Sheriff

Thursday, 9/24: Jon Rosenthal for Texas House District 135

Tuesday, 9/29: Trever Nehls for Fort Bend County Sheriff

Wednesday, 9/30: Lorena Perez McGill for Texas House District 15

Thursday, 10/1: District Attorney Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney

Tuesday, 10/6: Eric Fagan for Fort Bend County Sheriff

Wednesday 10/7: Bryan J. Henry for Texas House District 130

Wednesday 10/14: Akilah Bacy for House District 138

Thursday, 10/8: Rep. Dr. Tom Oliverson for Texas House District 130

Tuesday, 10/13: Lacey Hull for Texas House District 138

Thursday, 10/15: Dr. Milinda Morris for Texas Senate District 13

Tuesday, 10/20: Congresswoman Lizie Fletcher for Congressional District 7

Thursday, 10/22: Joe Danna for Harris County Sheriff

We have invited candidates from both sides of the aisle in each race. We believe engagement through conversation and dialogue is vital to the success of our community and our nation.

About Minaret Foundation:
Minaret Foundation’s mission is to lift American Muslim voices for sustainable change through multi-faith and civic engagement. We are a 501(c)3, and a non-partisan and non-sectarian organization. 

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MEDIA CONTACT

Naheeda Spencer, naheeda@minaretfoundation.com, 281-660-7880

Release Condemning Threat

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com

281-660-7880

HOUSTON-AREA FAITH LEADER JOINS MINARET FOUNDATION TO CONDEMN BOMB THREAT 

HOUSTON, SEPT. 8, 2020 – Minaret Foundation and local Houston-area Imam Waleed Basyouni condemn the recent bomb threat made to the University of Houston during a college class Zoom session. 

The alarming news is incredibly troubling and does not represent the ideology and beliefs of Muslims locally, nationally and worldwide. 

Earlier this month, Minaret Foundation received information of the threat made during the UH Zoom class.  

“We were deeply troubled upon receiving the information that a bomb threat had been made to the University of Houston before an entire class,” said Shariq Abdul Ghani, Director of Minaret Foundation. “When we learned of this threat, we immediately contacted local law enforcement agencies – UH Police and the Houston Police Department – to make sure this threat was reported and action was being taken against the individual making the threat.”

Clear Lake Islamic Center Imam Waleed Basyouni joined Minaret Foundation in speaking out against this act of violence.

“The actions this individual has displayed goes against the teachings of Islam and against everything Muslims stand for,” said Basyouni. “I join the Muslims in our community to unequivocally condemn the act.”About Minaret Foundation:
Minaret Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization committed with build relationships with faith organizations

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and local government for the Muslim community, by focusing on multi-faith and civic engagement since 2009.

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Minaret Foundation’s mission is to uplift American Muslim voices for sustainable change through multi-faith and civic engagement. We are a non-sectarian organization and a 501(c)3.

Clinton Foundation Honoring Minaret Foundation Board Member


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com

281-660-7880

CLINTON FOUNDATION HONORS WASAT INSTITUTE FOUNDER AT ANNUAL BENEFIT

HOUSTON, NOV. 19, 2020 – Wasat Institute founder and director Dr. Basem Hamid will be honored by President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation at their annual benefit, being held virtually tonight.

 Dr. Hamid will be recognized for his work to reduce the stigma of opioid abuse and to advance prevention, treatment, and recovery in the wider community. 

Imam Dr. Basem Hamid is a practicing neurologist and pain specialist in Houston, as well as the Imam of Shadowcreek Islamic Center and a member of the Jurist Council of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

Born and raised in Syria as part of the refugee program for Palestinians, he graduated from Damascus University’s School of Medicine and attained a Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies. 

Since immigrating to the United States in 1996, he founded Wasat Institute, an organization dedicated to exploring the intersectionality of health and spirituality. His work has been published numerous times regarding his research overlapping socio-economic issues, health, and faith. 

Dr. Hamid has been an active member of the Clinton Foundation Health Matters Initiative in the area of opioids and substance use, addiction, and overdose-related deaths. He and his wife, Mannal, have four wonderful daughters who each have a keen interest in serving their community.

WHAT: Clinton Foundation Virtual Benefit

WHEN: Nov. 19, 2020, 7 p.m. EST

WHERE: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/2020-virtual-benefit

About Wasat Institute:

Wasat Institute’s mission is to create conversations on the intersection of health and spirituality to inspire long-term sustainable wellness for all. 

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MEDIA CONTACT

Naheeda Spencer, naheeda@minaretfoundation.com, 281-660-7880

Largest Muslim-led Candidate Forum

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Naheeda Spencer, Communications Coordinator
naheeda@minaretfoundation.com
281-660-7880

TEXAS SIZED CANDIDATE FORUM FOR KEY RACES AIMED AT DRIVING MUSLIMS TO THE POLLS

HOUSTON, OCT. 20, 2020 – Key races in the Greater Houston area could be swung by the largest population of American-Muslims in the country.

In September, Minaret Foundation launched its weekly live Candidate Q&A series, featuring candidates from several critical races across the Houston-area and the state in an effort to educate Muslim voters about key issues on both sides.  This series is the only one of its kind in the state of Texas.

View here → http://www.minaretfoundation.com/candidate

“Our 45-minute conversations with the candidates are meant to highlight some of their fundamental platform positions and relevant domestic and international concerns,” Ghani said. “Depending on the candidates we’re speaking with, our questions about domestic issues will surround education, healthcare, relational policing, and all forms of hate.”

Historically, the Muslim community has a high percentage of registered voters within the demographic, but unfortunately, a low voter turnout, Ghani said. 

“We aim to mitigate this problem by making sure that the Muslim community understands why elections are important, what role elected officials have, and how candidates may affect them through our Candidate Q&A series.”

Since the opening of polls during the early voting period in Texas, Fort Bend and Harris Counties, two of the most diverse counties in the nation with a large Muslim population,  have seen a record turnout at the voting booth.

“The Muslim community wants to be heard and wants to be a part of a fair democratic electoral process where we elect officials who represent the diverse populations in this country.”  

The Candidate Q&A series had been broadcasted live on Minaret Foundation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel each week.  

Forum Schedule

Wednesday, 9/9: Mary Nan Huffman for Harris County District Attorney

Tuesday, 9/15: Sri Kulkarni for Congressional District 22

Thursday, 9/17: Jay Sittleburg for Texas Senate District 4

Tuesday, 9/22: Ed Gonzalez for Harris County Sheriff

Thursday, 9/24: Jon Rosenthal for Texas House District 135

Tuesday, 9/29: Trever Nehls for Fort Bend County Sheriff

Wednesday, 9/30: Lorena Perez McGill for Texas House District 15

Thursday, 10/1: District Attorney Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney

Tuesday, 10/6: Eric Fagan for Fort Bend County Sheriff

Wednesday 10/7: Bryan J. Henry for Texas House District 130

Wednesday 10/14: Akilah Bacy for House District 138

Thursday, 10/8: Rep. Dr. Tom Oliverson for Texas House District 130

Tuesday, 10/13: Lacey Hull for Texas House District 138

Thursday, 10/15: Dr. Milinda Morris for Texas Senate District 13

Tuesday, 10/20: Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher for Congressional District 7

Thursday, 10/22: Joe Danna for Harris County Sheriff

We have invited candidates from both sides of the aisle in each race. We believe engagement through conversation and dialogue is vital to the success of our community and our nation.

About Minaret Foundation:
Minaret Foundation’s mission is to lift American Muslim voices for sustainable change through multi-faith and civic engagement. We are a 501(c)3, and a non-partisan and non-sectarian organization. 

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MEDIA CONTACT

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Naheeda Spencer, naheeda@minaretfoundation.com, 281-660-7880

Test 4

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