Mapping NC's school-to-prison pipeline

Prejudice lies at every turn in the road:

The SCSJ used 2018-19 suspension data from the state’s 115 school districts to compile its report, which provides a “snapshot” of the so-called school-to-prison pipeline in each district. The pipeline is described as the system of policies and practices that push students out of school and into the juvenile and adult criminal justice system,

“The pipeline has three key entry points; academic failure, school discipline and court involvement,” SCJS researchers wrote. “Students of color are over-represented at each entry point to the pipeline in almost every school district in North Carolina, and once students enter the pipeline it can be difficult for them to re-engage and be successful at school.” Last year, the SCSJ found that Black students were 4.3 times more likely than white students to be suspended from school.

I had an unsettling conversation recently with a former teacher (white), which started out with, "You can't do anything for them, they won't let you!" As I probed a little deeper, it turned out this teacher would call on her black students for answers at the same rate as her white students. But since there were only 4-5 black students in her classes, compared to 20+ whites, that meant each black student was called upon every other day, if not every day. This particular teacher thought this was fair, and that she was (genuinely) trying to help them. But it's very likely her expectations of their potential success was clouded:

Supported by the American Educational Research Association and co-authored by Seth Gershenson and Stephen B. Holt of American University, the Johns Hopkins University study found that when looking at the same black student, white teachers are nearly 40 percent less likely than black teachers to predict that the student will graduate with a high school degree.

Additionally the study found that white teachers are 30 percent less likely to think their black students will finish a four-year degree at college.

This creates an often subliminal belief that actually putting in the effort to educate these students is a waste of time, and will adversely affect the outcomes for other (white?) students. And when there is a conflict between a white teacher and a black student, the cultural divide makes that conflict seem even more menacing than it is. So here comes the School Resource Officer (cop), and what began as an expression of frustration ends up being a ride in the back of a police car.



Most of the teachers I know,

and there are quite a few who read this blog, are very dedicated to their profession and fair. But the numbers don't lie; we have a big problem in suspensions and negative outcomes with SROs nationwide when it comes to students of color, and we need a new approach.