Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Lauren B., journalist

Imagine being an impoverished 12-year-old student. Because you are too young to work, you have been forced to steal from other students to feed yourself. One day, you are caught in the act. The school resource officer, an authority figure who is supposed to help you, arrests you. You are brought to court, charged, and are sent to juvenile detention. Your dreams of becoming a teacher are dashed against the rocks of the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the school-to-prison pipeline is a set of procedures and policies that drive the nation’s schoolchildren, particularly those belonging to marginalized groups such as people of color, those with disabilities or those living in poverty, onto a path that begins in the classroom and ends in the courtroom. Georgia should dismantle these policies and procedures that maintain the school-to-prison pipeline because of its detrimental effects on students, schools and communities.

The effects of the school-to-prison pipeline on students are extremely detrimental. For example, a disproportionate number of students who are affected by the school-to-prison pipeline drop out of school, which can have horrendous repercussions. For one thing, students who do not complete high school are more likely to be sent to prison. This therefore gives them a criminal record, which can then make it more difficult for them to attain housing and qualify for public assistance. Furthermore, because of their criminal record, they face obstacles in finding employment and they may also lose their voting rights as well as their eligibility for financial aid. In addition, students who drop out of high school earn less than their peers who completed high school.

The effects of the school-to-prison are equally harmful to schools and communities. For example, the punishments dealt out by schools that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline, such as suspensions and expulsions, also contribute to a negative atmosphere at schools. Whenever a student is suspended or expelled from school, all students at that school tend to feel less safe and are less likely to bond with their peers, teachers, and administrators; this is unhealthy for the school environment. Additionally, the school-to-prison pipeline also leads to a higher rate of criminal activity, leading communities to be less safe. In addition, students who have been suspended are known to be less active in their communities as adults, which is bad for Georgia. Furthermore, suspensions and expulsions actually cost school districts money. Because a school district’s average daily attendance rate is used to calculate the amount of state aid it receives, districts lose money when students are suspended or expelled. Finally, as it does not help students on a social or emotional level, suspension fails to stop disruptive behavior. Schools are hurting themselves without actually solving the problem!

Some claim that the school-to-prison pipeline helps stop disruptive behavior at its root. While it does temporarily solve the problem, the school-to-prison pipeline causes more problems than it solves. Although it does remove the disruptive students from the classroom, it does little to address the problem at an emotional level; this does not stop the disruptive behavior.  The children participating in descriptive behavior may not understand the consequences of their actions, and once suspended or expelled, may continue to act out more.  Georgian school districts are hurting themselves without actually solving the problem.

Clearly, the school-to-prison pipeline does little to help anyone.  Because of its terrible effects on students, schools and communities, Georgia should dismantle these policies and procedures that maintain the school-to-prison pipeline.

Works Cited Page

Dsals. “Who Is Most Affected by the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” School of Education Online, 8 Nov. 2022, soeonline.american.edu/blog/school-to-prison-pipeline.

“How do suspension and expulsion impact students, schools, and community?”

“What is the school – to – prison pipeline?” Anti-Defamation League, 2015.  Anti-Defamation League.  https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/what-is- the-school-to-prison-pipeline.pdf. PDF file


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