Breaking The School To Prison Pipeline

From disproportionate suspensions and arrests to miseducation through Eurocentric curriculum and ideologies, black students are victimized by the school to prison pipeline. In our communities, schools are over-policed, and the trajectory of the lives of black children point to a future of incarceration, dependence, and low-quality of life.

In our Clubhouse room, The Understood, we are in the third week of our Crime & Punishment series, where we explored law, corrections, and judicial systems levied against the black community. With several members of the club having personal knowledge and experience in education and law, we unpacked how specific systems attack the most vulnerable of our group: children. That appears to be a pattern in light of the club’s discussion on how music affects black children.

One member of the group who worked in charter schools for five years spoke to the school to prison pipeline’s subtle yet impactful physical manifestations. In the schools where she worked, elementary and middle students were to report to school each day at 7:30 AM and dismissed at 4:00 PM, which gave them little to no exposure to sunlight. After receiving it, students were given about 10-15 minutes to gobble down their lunch. Recess time – if outdoors – was held in a barren open area surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

The club’s resident psychologist confirmed that these physical practices could take a toll on the mental health of children and condition them to accept this reality as the standard. Conditioning plays a significant role in integrating the school-to-prison pipeline in the black community.

Another major factor is that white women account for the overwhelming racial demographic of teachers in America. According to a statistics report, The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce in 2011-2012, 82 percent of public-school teachers were white. Administrators and principals comprised a similar number. In high-poverty communities – many of which our children reside – 63% of teachers were white. White teachers serve as gatekeepers for the systems that harm our children. Suspensions and arrests are incredibly high in our schools, indicating a lack of understanding and care for students who, larger societal systems have already victimized.

As the nation undergoes a racial unmasking, it can no longer hide these ills. The central question remains: how do we solve this problem? This week’s Clubhouse room, Part Two of this topic, focused on solutions.

There was a plethora of viable options proposed, from homeschooling, to increasing the number of black teachers (males in particular) to help offset some of the miseducation and misunderstanding resulting in one race of teachers victimizing black students by way of poor policies and systems. White teachers who are not versed in the plight of black children often resort to law enforcement to resolve disputes with students. Having more black male teachers would change the current disciplinary system as students find common ground and even perhaps a similar life experience with those teachers.

Parental involvement and education deemed an immediate solution to the school-to-prison pipeline. Despite the racial demographics of a community, parental involvement is a determining factor in how well individual students perform and the school body’s success. An involved parent coalition pushes the school district for better funding and resources and serves as a deterrent for harmful plans against their children. In our community, however, the education of parents is critical. Some parents are not only unable to assist their children with their academics, but they are also completely unaware of their needs and thus lack an operational plan for their children’s success at school and beyond.

One of our admins, whose approach to the solution comes from an education, corrections, and parental background, added that we need to focus on the “FATHER”. An acronym that guides us to specific areas where investment and building are needed for change. It stands for:

  • Finance
  • Agriculture
  • Technology
  • Health
  • Education
  • Real Estate

A more pressing question remains: If the school to prison pipeline was designed to condition and harm black students, are solutions that require us to still work within the system practical?

Last week, a speaker’s poignant reminder that we should be operating on fundamental principles of black consciousness touched on the solution more holistically. The basic principles rooted in respect, trust, loyalty, knowledge of self, and more will help us determine how we move, teach our children, and stop relying on the dominant society to do right by us.

The school-to-prison pipeline is the pathway that leads our children from the school building to the criminal justice system. While the solutions to draw black students out of it are plenty, one thing for sure is that hesitation in our action plan will cause exponentially more harm. Whatever we understand must be done, our children’s lives depend on it.

Join us on Sunday, December 5 at 4 pm EST as The Understood Club discusses all-white juries and the return of Jim Crow.


Author: The Reporter

The Reporter is the founder of The Liz Report. She exposes and examines systems and policies that are pervasive in the black community. Her interests are all centered on black consciousness and liberation.

13 thoughts on “Breaking The School To Prison Pipeline

    1. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. The system is most certainly is a money-making ploy and the victims could be as young as pre-k age.

    1. Hi Roald, thanks for sharing your thought. My reference to schools in the article you linked, was pertaining to the overreach of society in our children’s lives. An example of this was the school that instructed children to stop using terms like ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and replace them with ‘caregiver’, etc. Like this article on the school to prison pipeline, it is clear that the reach of the gov’t continues to be detrimental to our children, even if the systems implemented look different.
      I’m curious as to what you found contradictory, maybe?

      1. No contradiction, but the sentence “It is important for us to hunker down on what leads us to healthy and good manifestations – only ordained by our Creator.” put your writings in a different light and told me what you’re really motivated and driven by.

        Btw, what’s your name?

          1. Liz, am I wrong to say that this motivation of yours is subordinate to the will of your God, and whatever you will be doing must always be tested by you against it?

            What’s your last name? ☺️

            1. It is very much one in the same. Fighting against what is wrong should be everyone’s will, whether or not spiritually inclined. This is just my opinion though.
              Last name, why?

            2. In both the vanilla and virtual worlds, it is not uncommon for people to pretend to be different than they actually are. In the virtual world, this is even very widespread. Even so called activists prefer to hide themselves (e.g. Anonymous, founded 2003). However, I am one who has learned that openness is the best way of interacting with people, especially those who also would want to be open, but for various reasons forego it. Why do I want it to be like that? Because I have noticed (particularly as a psychotherapist) that when I open up, it can lead others to do this more as well. By truly sharing our wishes, fantasies, fears, motives, frustrations, disagreements, dreams, flaws, beliefs, and what have you, we can wander into a world where dishonesty, cheating, competition, greed, fighting, vulnerability, egoism, we-against-them, suspicion, and fear (to name just a few) make place for integrity, compassion, love, respect, support, trust, passion for the wellbeing of the other (umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, comes to mind), and where disagreements are solely seen as building blocks for creating an even better world.

              Now, when I had read some of your prose, Liz, many of your ideas resonated with me, and I felt attracted to your train of thought. Hence, I eagerly wanted to know more about the person behind all that. Who is she, I wondered? Is she for real? What does she look like? Is she one who is afraid to show herself, and only writing down and publish her thoughts, ideas, frustrations, and solutions, when safely hiding at home? To find out, I asked for your complete name. Considering it an opening question, a little test. If you share it with me, there will be more. If not, you’ve told me enough, and I will go my way.

              Should you want to know more about me, then scroll around in my FB-page and/or read some of my LinkedIn postings and articles. Or……. ask Angela 😊

            3. Hi Roald, the matters I write about are what I have personally experienced or that of friends, family, neighbors, and others. You can get to know me and what I care about by reading and understanding what I write. I am angry and disappointed in how my people have been treated. The trauma is imbedded in our DNA. My goal is to bring awareness and name what many may be unable to point out as a problem, but could be being victimized by it. And then begin to change the mindset that leads us to liberation. This is all that really matters (to me) at the end of the day. Someone wanting to know more would be for entertainment purposes. ***I don’t hide because anyone can find anyone these days with a quick Google search.
              Stick around to “learn more” about me, if you so wish. And I understand that you are a psychotherapist and will be always tempted to analyze my words to analyze me, but maybe we should also analyze and address the problems that I address. That is a harder task, but very necessary.
              You don’t have to respond – I am curious though, as to why you call my writing “prose”.

            4. Re: “prose”. Because it’s not poetry. That’s all.

              Re: “That is a harder task” I don’t think so. The problems you try to address are caused by people. Knowing what moves them will/can lead to the solution of these problems.

              Re: ” I don’t hide” Yes you do. And I’m not going on a “quick Google search”. Why not? Because I didn’t ask “for entertainment purposes”.

              Ndikunqwenelela okuhle kodwa 💗

              Ndimkile ngoku.

            5. Great! There are problems much greater than what we are going back and forth about. Your psychoanalytic skills should be put to work for the people who intentionally harm black children and the community in general. You should start there and work your way back to me. It will be better use of your time and you can really make a positive impact!

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.