Day 27

School to Prison Pipeline

     Students across the United States are being suspended, expelled, or even arrested for minor offenses that once were handled with a visit to the principal’s office, detention, or writing on the blackboard.  And yes, you guessed it — students of color are disproportionately targeted and affected by the policies that create what is known as the school to prison pipeline.
     A study released just a few weeks ago by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reveals troubling racial disparities in America’s public schools.  “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”
     “The data released today reveals particular concern around discipline for our nation’s young men and boys of color, who are disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies in schools. Suspended students are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to be suspended again. They are also more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.”
     “The current explosion of school arrests is not caused by an increase in school violence.  On the contrary, research shows that, between 1992 and 2002, school violence actually dropped by about half.”  *see School to Prison Pipeline
  • 40% of students expelled from U.S. schools each year are black.
  • 70% of students involved in “in-school” arrests or referred to law enforcement are black or Latino.
  • Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended than whites.
  • Black and Latino students are twice as likely to not graduate high school as whites.
  • 68% of all males in state and federal prisons do not have a high school diploma.

*see School to Prison Pipeline fact sheet  This website also shares statistics about the “foster care to prison” pipeline that also disproportionately impacts youth of color.

  • A 2007 study by the Advancement Project and the Power U Center for Social Change says that for every 100 students who were suspended, 15 were Black, 7.9 were American Indian, 6.8 were Latino and 4.8 were white.
  • The same study reports that the U.S. spends almost $70 billion annually on incarceration, probation and parole. This number lends itself to a 127% funding increase for incarceration between 1987-2007. Compare that to a 21% increase in funding for higher education in the same 20-year span.

I could go on and on about this devastating phenomenon.  Instead, I will just point you to some more resources.  And hope that you continue to see how far and wide and deep the implications of our cultural and societal irrational penchant for punishment go.

Do we really truly believe that our children, ALL our children, are our nation’s future?  If so, why don’t we act like it?

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