Changing the Narrative--
Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline Toolkit
The Campaign: Changing the Narrative--
Breaking the Preschool to Prison Pipeline
This campaign seeks to effect change in the narrative of misconceptions and misperceptions about the most affected populations of children caught and funneled through the preschool to prison pipeline and engender understanding in the broader community that criminalizing child behavior is contradictory to creating better outcomes.
All children deserve access to high-quality and equitable educational opportunities without fear of discrimination or criminalization.
Restorative justice practices are more effective discipline measures and produce better outcomes than creating “hardened” school campuses that look and feel like prisons.
Health Care Equity
Children who suffer from adverse childhood experiences deserve equitable access to the health care resources and services they require, including behavioral health supports.
Systemic racism and a white supremacy culture are root causes for the criminalization, adultification and dehumanization of Black children.
The Issue: Preschool to Prison Pipeline
In its most basic form, the preschool to prison pipeline is the use of exclusionary discipline practices (such as suspensions, expulsions, charges of being unruly, disrespectful, willful, etc.) that remove primarily children of color; children of low income or poverty; and children who have a learning disability or difference out of the formal educational setting and into the alternative education, juvenile justice and/or criminal justice systems.
In order to break the cycle of generational criminal and juvenile justice involvement, there must be an intentional, collective investment in schools, communities and appropriate supportive services for children and adults to ensure that all children and families can succeed.
VIDEO: Dr. Rosemarie Allen: Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline
In her TEDxMileHigh talk, early childhood education expert Dr. Rosemarie Allen discusses how the pipeline starts earlier than most think. Learn more from Dr. Allen about the preschool-to-prison pipeline and how adult self-awareness can be part of the solution.
VIDEO: The school-to-prison pipeline, explained (VOX)
There’s this phrase you hear in the news sometimes: the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s shorthand for how schools are funneling students— especially black students—into the criminal justice system.
Get discipline data for GA schools
Changing the Narrative:
For decades, even centuries, our society has appropriated language to adultify, criminalize, dehumanize children. Click on the "Language Matters" button for a list of terms still applied today to describe their status, behavior, character and potential. The origins of some of these words stretch back to the 12th and 13th centuries!
Have you ever used any of these words to describe children? What was the situation?
What do you hear?
"What do you hear?" provides in text and images an opportunity for the viewer to begin to understand that language matters. The viewer is presented with a series of words commonly applied to children that dehumanizes, adultifies and criminalizes them--and asks the question, "What do you hear?" Have you used these words when referring to children?
The presentation also offers insight into how biases can lead to negative perceptions of and a lack of empathy for children as early as preschool; and highlights conversations with youth who have reached the end of the pipeline--incarceration. What do you hear?
Learn more about Adultification, Criminalization, Dehumanization
Practices, Methods and Programs that Work
What are the practices, methods and programs used by schools working to end the preschool to prison pipeline?
According to Jason P. Nance of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, "We need more schools where children want to attend because they feel part of a special community that cares for one another, helps each other succeed, and expects the best from one another. These schools do not rely on SROs, metal detectors, zero-tolerance policies, suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement to create a climate where students can learn. Rather, these schools focus intensely on:
(a) teaching and learning and meeting the needs of their students;
(b) helping students develop social and emotional intelligence, including race relations intelligence;
(c) enhancing the school climate and teaching students appropriate behavior using a multi-tiered behavior intervention model like schoolwide Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (SWPBIS);
(d) employing restorative justice circle groups to resolve differences and integrate offenders back into the school community;
(e) using data to identify and address emerging negative patterns;
(f) understanding and countering implicit bias."
Some of the programs that have been identified as successful in addressing the preschool to prison pipeline:
- Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS)
- On-Campus Intervention Program (OCIP)
- Consistency Management Cooperative Discipline (CMCD)
- Cultural diversity training
- Just Discipline
- Addressing the over-reliance on police in public schools
- School-Justice Partnership/System of Care framework
Community Speaks - Real Stories from the Community
Police defend 6-year-old's handcuffing 11alive 4/16/2012
"Milledgeville's police chief says he supports his officer's handcuffing a 6-year-old for her safety after she allegedly threw a tantrum."
In 2003, the number of school arrests in Clayton County had reached an all-time high: 1,229 in the academic school year. Clayton County’s Juvenile Justice Chief Judge and the superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools came together to find a solution. The result was the creation of a School-Justice Partnership to engage the community in achieving effective, sustainable outcomes for Clayton County youth and families.
Clayton County’s Juvenile Justice Chief Judge and the superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools came together to find a solution. The result was the creation of a School-Justice Partnership to engage the community in achieving effective, sustainable outcomes for Clayton County youth and families. The partnership implemented a coordinated System of Care framework to build a safe, healthy, educated, work-ready youth population that in turn would promote a thriving community.
The Consequences of the School to Prison Pipeline in Georgia (2/18/20)
"Wenona Clark Belton, associate court judge for the Juvenile Court of Fulton County, says the consequences of the school to prison pipeline are 'real—and devastating.' Though the scales of justice are tilted toward mass incarceration, she offers solutions that will tilt them back in the opposite direction. 'Children who cannot read well are often disruptive, bored, distracted, and embarrassed,' said Belton. 'Children who are disruptive in school are excluded from school, and that is largely the result of school-based referrals.'"
Gwinnett educators demand diversity, equality in curriculum ajc 7/30/20
"Gwinnett Educators for Equity and Justice approached district officials with a list of suggestions that will diversify curriculum and staffing."
Get Georgia Reading Beyond 2020 Summit—
Wenona Clark Belton, Juvenile Court of Fulton County
"MAKE IT MINE" Get Involved in the Campaign
Get involved in the campaign challenge to "Make It MINE!"
Mobilize, Inform, Network, Engage
- Host a "Changing the Narrative: Breaking the Preschool to Prison Pipeline" campaign roadshow event
- Attend EMI Georgia Network's advocacy training
- Share our Advocacy Talking Points with your organization, faith community, school community about how, as a community, we can break the preschool to prison pipeline
- Participate in our legislative Calls to Action for policy change to break the preschool to prison pipeline
- Post our "Changing the Narrative: Breaking the Preschool to Prison Pipeline" social media materials on your social media pages and platforms
- Like and follow our Facebook page and share our social media postings
- Check out other ways the network identified to "MAKE IT MINE!"
"MAKE IT MINE!"
Changing the Narrative: Breaking the Preschool to Prison Pipeline
Community Advocacy Actions
- Volunteer or mentor at your local school. See what is going on--help students with addressing the underlying causes of their “misbehavior.”
- Stop demonizing parents and help them. Connect with Strengthening Families Georgia and help create the best possible environment for the development of children and youth.
- Get informed. Educate yourself on the preschool, school and cradle to prison pipeline. You can start with this toolkit.
- Engage with EMI Georgia Network and other local groups that are working directly on solving this problem and provide your time, energy, knowledge and resources.
- Storytelling: Gather stories from parents whose children have been impacted by the preschool to prison pipeline and share them with us.
COMMUNITY ADVOCACY ACTIONS
Let us know what you are doing!
The School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Business Side of Incarcerating, Not Educating, Students in Public Schools
Money Trail through the Pipeline
Today, states frequently engage in unscrupulous practices when it comes to throwing our children behind bars. For example, in the mid-2000s, private juvenile detention facilities in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania received tens of millions of dollars in government contracts to house youthful offenders. As a result, the industry of kids-for-cash became so pervasive that “[d]etention center workers were told in advance how many juveniles to expect at the end of each day—even before hearings to determine their innocence or guilt.”
Two local judges sent thousands of juvenile offenders to these private prisons, receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks. Children appeared before the judges following minor crimes such as mocking an assistant principal on a social media page, “trespassing in a vacant building,” and stealing DVDs from Wal-Mart. Punishments ranged from enrollment in a wilderness camp or boot camp all the way to detention. (Read full article)
Resources for Enlightenment
Historical Narrative of Racial Stereotyping of African Americans
Negative Racial Stereotypes and Their Effect on Attitudes Toward African-Americans - "Stereotypes are "cognitive structures that contain the perceiver's knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about human groups" (Peffley et al., 1997, p. 31). These cognitive constructs are often created out of a kernel of truth and then distorted beyond reality (Hoffmann, 1986). Racial stereotypes are constructed beliefs that all members of the same race share given characteristics. These attributed characteristics are usually negative (Jewell, 1993)."
Racial stereotyping toward young children of color
Substantial racial stereotyping toward young children of color found among white adults who work with them
"Young children and youth of color in the U.S. face significant racial stereotyping from white adults who work or volunteer with them. This national study analyzed for the first time stereotypes held by white adults who work or volunteer with children across the U.S., examining their reported attitudes toward adults, teenagers and children from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. This includes attitudes toward black and Hispanic/Latinx groups, but also toward those from Native American, Asian and Arab backgrounds."
“I’m Gonna Cook My Baby in a Pot”: Young Black Girls’ Racial Preferences and Play Behavior
Sana Qadar interviews Dr. Toni Sturdivant: Dolls can tell us a lot about how kids see the world–especially when it comes to race.
One American researcher spent months watching pre-schoolers play with dolls and what she observed shocked her.
Plus, did you know the very first study of children and their thoughts about dolls actually changed the course of American history? (Read more and access interview)
Dear White Teachers (Commentary by Bettina L. Love)
Black Girls and Discipline
Bill Moyers Interview with Dr. Henry Giroux on the School to Prison Pipeline
"Henry Armand Giroux is an American and Canadian scholar and cultural critic. One of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States, he is best known for his pioneering work in public pedagogy, cultural studies, youth studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory."
Another link in the pipeline
The Charter-to-Prison Pipeline by Alexandria Millet - "The charter system that often paints itself as a better option for black parents does not acknowledge the harm rigid disciplinary policies can impose on black students."
Criminalization of Black Children
The Criminalization of Black Children: Race, Gender and Delinquency in Chicago's Juvenile Justice System, 1899-1945. "Agyepong argues that when black children migrated north to Chicago in the wake of abolition, they encountered a fledgling set of juvenile justice and child-welfare institutions that gradually adopted differential treatment toward black and white youth. One of the many highlights of Agyepong's work is the use of case studies of particular children to illustrate how institutions shifted their conceptions and treatment of children in an attempt to distance white youth from the conditions of newly freed black youth."
From Preschool to Prison: The Criminalization of Black Girls (12/8/2017)
"The 'school-to-prison pipeline' discussion often neglects the ways in which black girls are disproportionately and unfairly disciplined by the U.S. education system. Recent data show that schools are expelling and suspending black girls at alarming rates, which can lead to a harmful cycle of criminality that persists throughout their adult lives."
Schools need to acknowledge their part in the criminalization of Black youth, Stanford scholar says (6/18/2020)
"A former special education teacher in both public schools and youth prisons, Annamma is the author of the recent book The Pedagogy of Pathologization, which explores the construction of criminal identities in schools through the experiences of disabled girls of color. Her research focuses on making education more equitable for historically marginalized students."
Adultification of Children of Color
Research Confirms that Black Girls Feel the Sting of Adultification Bias Identified in Earlier Georgetown Law Study
"Building on its groundbreaking 2017 Girlhood Interrupted study showing that adults view black girls as more adult-like and less innocent than white girls, Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality today released a follow-up study that finds black girls routinely experience adultification bias."
Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds
"Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association."
Alternatives to Suspension
Advancement Project Infographic
The Atlantic: How America Outlawed Adolescence (Nov. 2016)
"At least 22 states make it a crime to disturb school in ways that teenagers are wired to do. Why did this happen?" (Read more)