A Look at the School-to-Prison Pipeline

School-to-Prison Pipeline pic
School-to-Prison Pipeline
Image: pbs.org

Marion H. Martinez earned her doctorate in education from the University of Hartford in 2002. She went on to serve as superintendent of schools in East Hartford, CT and then as the state’s associate commissioner for teaching, learning, and instructional leadership. In 2013, Marion H. Martinez accepted the position of school superintendent in the city of Binghamton, New York, where she served until summer 2016. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated her deep concern with issues of equity in education.

Experts define the school-to-prison pipeline as the phenomenon in which children and teens from lower-income communities and communities of color are moved seamlessly from the school system into the juvenile justice system, and later, the nation’s adult prisons as a result of over identification for sp ed and disproportionate suspensions/expulsions when compared with white students. Schools do not address the results of inequities early on, these students may find themselves negatively labeled.

Many organizations focused on social justice have pointed to “zero-tolerance” school policies as part of the problem. These policies mete out harsher punishments, such as expulsion and even arrest, for minor violations. Studies have shown that students of color are more likely to be disciplined under zero-tolerance policies, and that students suspended or expelled are more likely to end up incarcerated later in life.

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