The "school-to-prison pipeline" is a troubling national trend where children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. It starts when kids are pushed out of the classroom, typically for nonviolent offenses, effectively reducing valuable learning time, and making it harder for struggling students to keep up. With increased police presence in schools student challenges or disputes are turned over to police instead of being addressed by school staff and administrators. This sends too many students, who would be better served by social workers and a range of evidenced based supports, spiraling into a juvenile and criminal justice system that follows them into their adult lives.
Kalyb Wiley-Primm is a smart, soft-spoken kid from Kansas City who likes science and robotics.
But one day in second grade, some bullies started taunting Kalyb. He began to cry and yell, "I didn’t do anything to you!’' A school security officer found Kalyb crying and screaming in the classroom, he asked Kalyb to come with him. Out in the hallway, Kalyb, still crying, refused to follow the officer. The officer then handcuffed the 50-pound, four-foot boy and marched him to the principal’s office. Can you imagine your seven-year-old being handcuffed after being bullied!
Many of the children most impacted by these practices of handcuffing, exclusion from the classroom, suspensions and expulsions have learning disabilities, histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.
U.S. schools now have more security guards than social workers. Adding further injury to this shocking data, students missed over 11 million days of school in 2015-16 because of suspensions, and hundreds of preschoolers are suspended or expelled every day in the U.S. The culture of investing in increased security measures over student supports has got to shift in this country. It is appalling that 10 million students are in schools with cops but no counselor, social worker, or nurse, leaving critical services for students out of reach. A logical response to this would be to look at the data and support what works, but decision makers have chosen to ignore the research and data and instead opt for arming teachers over supporting students. This is unacceptable!
Join us as we push Congress to support ALL students by investing what research shows is more effective in keeping schools safe! Social and emotional learning and positive behavior supports. Not more cops and criminalization.
There is no evidence to show that expanding police presence in schools actually results in safer schools. For too many students more police presence is often very dangerous! Remember the North Carolina student who was body slammed by a police officer and handcuffed? Her peers at the school who witnessed the incident and who were also traumatized by the extreme force used by the officer confirmed that the young girl did nothing to provoke the officer. In fact, the same officer was named in two other lawsuits.
The data we do have shows that this is a failed approach. By devoting a significant amount of resources into cops and increased security in schools, schools are left no more safer and critical services are underfunded or left out all together.
Urge Congress to Stand up for Students! Click here to add your name to our petition telling Congress to support social emotional learning in schools, not more police and not by arming teachers with guns!
Best practices for improving school climate and discipline are being used as alternatives all across the country. Parents and communities are advocating for social and emotional learning programs, restorative justice practices, and school wide positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Many of these tools equip teachers and students with the tools to build positive school environments and to prevent and respond to conflict in ways that address students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. Use of these interventions can reduce suspensions by up to 50%, improve school climate, increase teacher effectiveness, and support better educational outcomes for all students. Research also shows that relationships between students, parents, and staff are more important in making a school safe than increased security measures.
Together we can break the school to prison pipeline for ALL students. Tell Congress to take a step in the right direction for students.