School to Prison Pipeline
School Discipline Policies Feed “School to Prison” Pipeline
Two often-noted crises facing the U.S. are:
1) increasing school dropout rate and
2) the exploding number of inmates in our prisons.
Are these two crises related?
It is easy to accept lack of education can lead one to crime, but is there more to the connection? Recent research has shown that some of our school discipline policies are inadvertently pushing children out of school and toward our prisons. This has been identified as the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP).
Fed by the growing use of zero-tolerance policies and school-based arrests, students are increasingly criminalized and denied access to education. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) considers this one of the most significant civil rights challenges facing our country today.
Updated in 2017, a Missouri array of statutes relating to harsh school discipline has come to be known as the “Safe Schools Act” (Missouri Revised Statutes § 160.261). In its many provisions, this state law imposes a variety of mandates on the schools. Local boards of education also set conduct of standards.
Nationwide, there is no conclusive evidence indicating that police presence in schools has created a safe learning environment. It has created the increasing criminalization of students. Since schools around the country have adopted the zero-tolerance approach to classroom disruptions and have police officers enforcing it, children are being arrested for being children. Some egregious but not isolated examples: a six-year-old girl having a temper tantrum, autistic 9-year-old arrested and handcuffed at elementary school, and a 13 year old girl was arrested for spraying herself with perfume and more.
Instead of teachers handling minor disciplinary incidents, police officers often are; instead of a visit to the principal’s office, students are now too often being taken to jail.
More on #STPP here.