The School-To-Prison-Pipeline Is Real, Whether Your White Privilege Allows You To Believe It Or Not.

There is a diabolical, direct, orchestrated attack at work against poor, inner-city children of color. They are not being prepped for college- and career-readiness. Instead, Black and Brown children, especially those who reside in certain zip codes, are being prepared to supply free labor to the prison-industrial complex.

I wrote these words as the introduction to a brief Education Post video clip I shared online where I was featured discussing my professional and personal experiences with the school-to-prison-pipeline. I write about this topic so much not because I’m some glutton for punishment (the comments I receive are brutal) or because I just like putting my business out there. Neither is true.

Even with all the research and evidence to support it, many still question the existence of an actual school-to-prison-pipeline (STTP). I know, it sounds ridiculous, but for the past few days I’ve been debating the pervasiveness of the STPP with those whom I believe are well-intentioned readers and, by their own admission, are just not buying what educators like myself are selling where the STPP is concerned.

Perhaps these readers’ comments match yours a bit better.

“You have to be leaving out a crucial step on their way to prison. ALL of these prisoners COMMITTED A CRIME in order to be incarcerated….And Not just a crime, a felony. And, if they are in prison for it, it was probably not a first offense.” was the comment I received that spurred this post. I was kind of shocked — but not really. The longer I live, the less things shock me.”

“I don’t buy the argument of a school to prison pipeline. No one force someone, except close friends, to commit crimes…I do not believe it.. Students from other cultures use the public school and they do not end up in prison. Children need parents. 84% of people in prison had a missing father at home. So if you want to end the prison population, make sure father marry the mothers and stay there to raise their children.”

Clearly there’s still a need for more facts about the school-to-prison-pipeline out there, so here goes.

According to Kandia Johnson, more than 60 percent  of all school arrests in New York involve Black youth, who comprise less than a third of enrolled students. “An arrested student is twice as likely to drop out of school — and dropouts are eight times more likely to land in jail.”

And according to this Fact Sheet on STTP,

Far too often, students are suspended, expelled or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. Statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.

The truth is that unless the school-to-prison-pipeline and other problems that egregiously plague Black and Brown people are seen by White people through a humanitarian lens and viewed as an American societal ill that adversely affects all of us due to our interconnectedness as human beings, little will improve.. Black people and Brown people need to be seen and respected as human beings before any change will take place.

It’s great when those of us who are like-minded and in ideological agreement talk among themselves and affirm each other. That is a necessary step, no doubt. But we can’t stop treading the path of the journey there. The conversation must be extended to not only those who see things differently, but particularly those who see things differently who have the power to make a change. That’s why I write for New York School Talk. The head honchos (who happen to be White and exuding privilege) and I don’t always agree — but we spend enough time dialoguing with each other about the “whys” of our positions on various educational topics to actually listen and learn. How many people who read my posts can say they do the same? Are we seeking improvement or are we content with arguing incessantly behind the shield of our SMARTPhobes and laptops? Does Your White Privilege Blind You?
What do you think?

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