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Affirmation, and a call to action: Gathering focuses on discipline disparity in schools

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Neda Renee Kellogg moderates a panel
Neda Renee Kellogg moderates a panel for the screening of the documentary "Pushout" at the Brooklyn Center library on Saturday.
Tarkor Zehn | MPR News

Adrianne Gould remembers being a super-charismatic 5-year-old. An energetic kid, like so many others that age. That changed when she started school.

"One of my earliest childhood memories was, my dad got called up to the school when I was in kindergarten,” she recalls.

What was the complaint? The teacher said Adrianne wasn't giving other kids a chance to answer questions. Her enthusiasm for school had become — in the eyes of the teacher — a liability.

The interaction was one of many that completely changed Gould’s relationship with school.

"I was not excited about school,” she said. “As I got older, I didn't want to go to school. I wanted to learn, I always valued education and learning, but I didn't want to go to school."

As an adult, she realized her story was a common theme among many other young black girls. Too disruptive, too loud, or the most common complaint — insubordinate.

A poster advertising a showing of the documentary "Pushout"
A poster advertising a showing of the documentary "Pushout" at the Brooklyn Center library on Saturday.
Tarkor Zehn | MPR News

Her group, Educational Equity for our Babies, along with the nonprofits Project Diva and the Love Initiative decided to have a community conversation on why the experience is so common. They screened a new documentary — called "Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools" — for about 40 community members on Saturday in Brooklyn Center. Based on the book by Monique Morris, it explores why those particular disparities in education exist for black girls.

Federal statistics show that nationally, black girls are six times more likely to receive out-of-school suspension than their white counterparts, three times more likely to be physically restrained, and twice as likely to recieve corporal punishment where it is allowed. In the state of Minnesota, black girls are 8.5 times more likely to be suspended, coupled with one of the highest achievement gaps in the country.

The founder of Project Diva, Neda Renee Kellogg, said she hopes the film affirmed the experiences of many of the girls and parents in the audience, and ignited a call to action.

"I think the audience was able to — especially the girls — walk away with seeing other girls that are going through it, to show that they're not isolated,” she said. “I'm praying that the conversation was started, the call of action was started amongst us, amongst black women today."