WHAT IS THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE?

In my small community, I believed that the police were good guys. When I needed them, they came. I wasn’t scared. Then, I thought that they were going to protect me and help my family out. Now, this is the privilege that I have as I am not a black person. Through videos, I have seen the precautions that black people have to take in the face of the police. Imagine being a member of the black community and having to see the police every day at your school. Living every day in fear and on edge as you go to and from school and mind your own business. After the Columbine High School massacre and the numerous school shootings that have happened since, police officers have become more and more common on school grounds.

Police in schools fuel the school-to-prison pipeline and take away valuable funding for educational resources. The school-to-prison pipeline is the phenomenon where schools funnel Black and brown students, and students with disabilities, into the criminal justice. This phenomenon can start as early as preschool where minorities (specifically Black and children with disabilities) are more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students. According to the Education Department’s office for Civil Rights, Black students are three times more likely to be expelled than white students. In general, students disciplined by police in schools are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system.

Some of the components of the school-to-prison pipeline are zero-tolerance policies – strict policies that criminalize minor infractions and increase the number of suspensions and expulsions – and School Resource Officers (SROs) – police officers stationed in schools who can make in-school arrests and provide disciplinary action on behalf of administrators. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO HELP KIDS! Based on studies, zero-tolerance policies have often been ineffective in preventing crime and violence, and SROs are seen criminalizing and policing students instead of protecting them. So, why is the government spending its money on the police and prisons and not schools? Instead, we should filter the money from the police to education! Students should not be scared and criminalized at schools! They should be supported by guidance counselors and the staff!

So, how can we help?

  1. Demand your local school district end contracts with police departments
  2. Demand that your mayor and city council defund the police and invest in schools, especially in poor communities of color
  3. Demand that your state and federal representatives end discriminatory zero-tolerance policies.
  4. VOTE for candidates that prioritize vulnerable students and have explicit plans for investing in and supporting underfunded schools

Here are some facts:

  • 1.7 million students are in schools with cops, but no counselors.
  • 3 million students are in schools with cops, but no nurses.
  • 6 million students are in schools with cops, but no school psychologists.
  • 10 million students are in schools with cops, but no social workers.

FUND EDUCATION NOT THE POLICE

Originally published July 3

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