Failing Marks: The School to Prison Pipeline

June 15, 2012

A disturbing shift has occurred in our education system over the last few years. Many schools have moved away from employing traditional disciplinary measures, such as counseling or detention, when students misbehave. Instead, schools are relying increasingly on suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement to punish students. Children are being arrested or removed from schools, even for minor behavioral incidents, at alarming rates around the country. In response, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education have initiated the Supportive School Discipline Initiative to address what is considered the “school-to-prison pipeline.” What is the impact of increased law enforcement in schools? What role, if any, should law enforcement play in school discipline? What are other responses to the disproportionate number of minority students subjected to excessive school discipline? Is school discipline just one of the many subsets of denied equal educational opportunities for students of color?