School-to-Prison Pipeline The school-to-prison pipeline plagues schools and youth across the country, specifically targeting minority and disabled students in urban areas. Due to policies employed in schools across the United States, students are channeled directly from the school system into the criminal justice system. Many of these schools have metal detectors, law enforcement officers in the buildings and intense zero-tolerance policies that treat minor and major infractions with extreme severity.
Authorities and educators have relied heavily on suspensions, expulsions, and outside law enforcement to solve the behavior and disciplinary issues in the classroom. Coates (2016) states that the United States now accounts for less than 5 percent of the world’s inhabitants and about 25 percent of its incarcerated inhabitants. In addition Coates (2016) also states “From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, America’s incarceration rate doubled, from about 150 people per 100,000 to about 300 per 100,000.
From the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, it doubled again. By 2007, it had reached a historic high of 767 people per 100,000, before registering a modest decline to 707 people per 100,000 in 2012. In absolute terms, America’s prison and jail population from 1970 until today has increased sevenfold, from some 300,000 people to 2. 2 million. ” The results form Coates’s article are not alarming or a surprise to me. Being an educator in a public school system it is easy to see these numbers that he is addressing.
Many students that I have taught have been targeted and mis-labeled and diagnosed because of their mis understanding behaviors. A well known policy that many schools have adopted is known as the Zero-tolerance policy. Zero-tolerance policies often result in suspensions and expulsions, they frequently remove students from the classroom, which in turn moves them onto the school-to-prison pipeline. The school to prison pipeline starts when teachers and school police assign punishments to misbehaving students that remove them from the classroom.
These students then become much more likely to be introduced into the criminal justice system, even if their “crime” was relatively insignificant. The punishments that arise with zero-tolerance policies have been as drastic as leading to expulsion. Once students advance on the school-to-prison pipeline it is very difficult for students to reverse their progress. A student that enters the juvenile justice system encounters barriers to returning to traditional schools due to a tarnished record.
Consequently, the vast majority of students that enter the juvenile justice system do not graduate from high school. Thus, when a zero-tolerance policy forces a student out of the classroom and onto the school-to-prison pipeline, it infringes upon a student’s future opportunities and harms their reputations, violating their liberty interests. Connections to Special Education Students with disabilities also suffer disproportionately from zero-tolerance policies and are pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline.
This group also has their liberty interest disproportionately violated by school actions. Students with educational disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than students without disabilities. Within this group, black students with disabilities are at higher risk than white students with disabilities. Schmall, T. (2014) states. 8. 6 percent of students in public school are identified as having educational disabilities, these students make up 32 percent of the youth in juvenile detention centers.
As in the case of black students that are disproportionately assigned a more strict punishments, the disproportionate removal of students with disabilities from the classroom leads to the student having a record and a likelihood of entering the school to-prison pipeline, which ultimately violates their liberty interest in their future. Schmall, T. (2014). School discipline policies must not disproportionately hurt disabled students, and alternatives to zero-tolerance policies should be applied so that students are not pushed onto the school-to-prison pipeline and no longer suffer a violation of their liberty interests.
After students have been removed from the classroom and started on the school toprison pipeline, their odds of success fall far below their peers that are not on the pipeline. Zero-tolerance policies can lead to school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement. These punishments further students along the school-to-prison pipeline and can violate a student’s liberty interest in their reputation and future. Conclusion Coates makes valid points in both of his articles and interviews. It is unfortunate that this data exist but there is an answer.
We have to understand that regardless of skin color or social economic status people are people. People, especially children, are not a threat. We need to learn to give people a chance. Furthermore, if a person notices that a student is falling behind or just not “following directions” we have to learn to redirect instead of misdiagnose. Once a student has a label, that label sticks with them forever and to me that is just not fair. Many students believe that they are failures because they did not do well in school or always seemed to fail at everything in school.
We have to realize that the students who we are labeling and calling failures could be the next President, or doctor, or lawyer or anything that they can imagine. We should not have the power to easily crush a students dreams and future just because we do not understand them. We have to be more understanding. Learn to talk and have a conversation with these students instead. This nation’s school system has come a long way but we still have more work to do as a nation.