Age seems to not matter when neglect and disservice are involved in black and brown lives.
The school-to-prison pipeline, a concept that describes policies that keep students out of the classrooms and onto a fast track to prison, is after the demise of young lives.
So now instead of reporting to the counselor’s office for having an argument in the classroom, you get expelled. This propels students to be at a higher risk of dropping out, getting in trouble, and being arrested.
Marginalizing black and brown groups was always a thing, but now I’m convinced that they’re actually invoking a genocide.
However, instead of killing us, they’re packing us up in prisons like sardines in a can. And since I believe the love of money is the root of all evil, I believe this is all done in the name of profit.
It’s utterly sickening and disheartening to know that school systems are working with prisons towards criminalizing the future of black and brown communities.
And what’s worse? This seems more about punishment and control than creating safer educational environments.
There are various policies that aid in the pipeline, and they include police presence at schools, harsh tactics including physical restraint, and automatic punishments that result in suspensions and out-of-class time.
If it were up to me, I’d toss all policies right in the trash pile of bad ideas, except the former, and before you roll your eyes and walk away from this piece, let me explain.
Given our nation’s history with school shootings, the demand for police on school grounds became imperative. It was either that or arm teachers, and no one in their right mind wants that.
Being a product of the public school system, I had police officers on campus and felt comfortable, if not safer knowing that they were there protecting my peers and I.
So, if we are to have police protecting and serving our children, let’s make sure that that’s all they’ll be doing: protecting and serving children’s lives.
Let us demand that every officer have training that is modified to fit a specific school’s demographic, culture, and environment in order for us to reap the most successful outcome.
Accessing more mindfulness from police tackles just one area of concern. We still need to bring focus back to the main issue and that’s where the pipeline starts – in the classroom.
Let us demand that teachers become better trained at handling students, especially dealing with children who are at-risk and/or have disabilities.
An article on tolerance.org explaining the dangers of the pipeline also offers advice on how schools can improve relations between educators and students.
Solid advice on avoiding the pipeline includes, but isn’t limited to: training teachers on the use of positive behavior support for at-risk students and compiling annual reports on the total number of disciplinary actions that push students out of the classroom based on gender, race, and ability.
Prison is a booming business, and I’d hate to think that children are deliberately being funneled out of schools and into prisons, but this is America.
While civil rights groups like the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Dignity in Schools fight for fairness to be restored back in the school system, let’s do our part, too.
A child should come to school and feel like they’ve finally entered the one place they can be themselves and safely exist in.
Let’s not sit back and watch that be taken away.