† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
National Week of Action Against School Pushout
by nancy a heitzeg
The school to prison to prison pipeline is the direct result of educational policies and practices that have transformed our schools from sites of opportunity and inclusion into centers of criminalization and exclusion. Over the past two decades, the proliferation of “zero tolerance” policies and an increased police presence at schools have combined to shape the school to prison pipeline via the “criminalization of school discipline.”
Schools increasingly criminalize minor disciplinary infractions via zero tolerance policies, have a police and/or security officers (School Resource Officer or SRO) presence for enforcement, and rely on suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor infractions. While these policies were motivated, in part, by the perceived need to increase “safety” and “security”, zero tolerance policies and police in schools have instead increased the risks of criminalization for segments of the student body, particularly students of color who represent the vast majority of students “pushed out” of school. Under-funded public schools, over-extended teachers, and increased pressure from high stakes testing escalate the “pushout’ rate.
But youth and advocates are pushing back. This week marks the 4th Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout organized by Dignity in Schools.
Here is the week so far — we will update :