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About the School-to-Prison Pipeline: It's Time to "School" Our Education System

Updated: Sep 23, 2018

Before anyone can begin to understand the school-prison pipeline, there are some essential factors that need to be examined in order to understand that this problem is not based on one factor, but rather many.

Click here to begin to understand why schools have become a producer of future incarcerated people

Some main factors include:

Some other educators feel that the school-to-prison pipeline also needs to end!

Click here to see other blogs about the school-to-prison pipeline

Legislation and The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Recently in March, Betsy DeVos, the United States Secretary of Education, had an interview on 60 Minutes. In this interview, she discussed how school discipline comes down to the individual students. Chandra Bozelko, an opinion writer for USA today, wrote this article about Betsy Devos. This article in my professional opinion as a future educator, is an example of an opponent opinion that is factually not justified in terms of the school-to-prison pipeline. Bozelko, agrees with DeVos's views that building charter schools will help stop the school-to-prison pipeline. Bozelko's fails to address how many charter schools and private schools were created when segregation of schools became illegal. Instead, she states that charter schools increasing segregation would go against what they stand for (even though some continue to do so today). Bozelko claims that charter schools have a chance to renew their standards, unlike public schools which could be "beneficial" for the end of the school-to-prison pipeline by incorporating different disciplinary action. One of my main problems with this argument is charter schools actually have high suspension rates already. I do not think rewriting policy in a few charter schools is going to change this problem. I think legislation needs to address that minority students are more likely to be suspended, expelled, and incarcerated when compared to white students. I believe schools need to think about their disciplinary processes in terms of rehabilitating the students rather than kicking them out of school. DeVos in her interview even says she does not visit low performing schools. Well how can we improve low performing school and our disciplinary school plans if DeVos is only focusing on well performing (more affluent) schools? Another issue I have with Bozelko's opinion is that if we just create more schools (which will not be able to be accessed by everyone and may not follow Common Core State Standards) how does this help the educational inequities within American society? How does building more charter schools affect the implicit bias and the entrenched harsh disciplinary systems most schools have against minority students? If Besty Devos really wanted to improve schools and prevent the school-to-prison pipeline, she would do more than build charter schools. She would visit ALL schools and address the problems of ALL students. She would thoroughly examine the disciplinary system of zero-tolerance and suspensions which are bias, and add social-emotional learning programs into schools. She would add behavior coaches into school systems and get rid of students being arrested in their classes. She would improve and write new rules for the education system that exists, rather than building a new "charter" system with the same educational flaws as the existing one.

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