By: Amber Lee, Justin Owens, Sarah Marlin, Kyla Butler
Our group chose to research the school to prison pipeline. This is a metaphor used to describe the pattern of youth being pushed out of school, through high rates of suspension and expulsion, and into the criminal justice system; particularly youth of color, young people with disabilities, and impoverished adolescents. For our research question, we wanted to determine if the pipeline existed, and if it did, specifically how it affected people based on race, age, gender, and socio-economic status. This is a critically important topic because of the lasting impact it has our nation’s youth. These are the leaders of their generation, and as we expect them to success us, we must help them maintain these roles of leadership and inspire our young to change them, make them unique and innovative. They already have an important voice, we must listen; they already are in these positions of leadership and belonging, we must support them; it is not our duty to “develop” them in any way but to rather help them in their journey of discovery. “Making” leaders of tomorrow is easy when a force of power already flows through them.
Through our research, we discovered high rates of incarceration in respects to other countries – and within these high rates, a disproportion between people of color and whites. Over half of the United States prison population is Black and Hispanic. Kids of color are proven to be at higher risk of being suspended or expelled for minor infractions under zero-tolerance policies, actual legislation that shows itself to be some of the biggest contributors to this pipeline. One such policy is the No Child Left Behind Act that threatens schools’ federal funding if “trailing” students, e.g. students of color and/or with a disability, did not meet certain “academic standards” determined by constant standardized testing. If so, the school would then have to jump through copious hoops to avoid losing their funding, usually the only source of money that keeps the school running.
In this project, we offer a definition of the pipeline, a comparison of the impacts on based on race, and imagine the experience of existing in the pipeline through a narrative. We also created an original video comprised of interviews from faculty and staff at Berkeley High School to get a better understanding of how people in our school and community view and understand the school to prison pipeline. A final element of our project is a satirical pastiche that spins Uncle Sam into a symbol for these laws and policies.
This essay defines and offers solutions to the school to prison pipeline. Written by Justin Owens.
This essay compares behavioral differences, courtroom proceedings, drop out rates and parental incarceration (all things that contribute to time spent in prison) between White and Black youth. Written by Amber Lee.
This essay is a fictional account of the school to prion pipeline and its affect on one student. Written by Amber Lee.