CI: Feds Finally Take Action to End School to Prison Pipeline

January 15, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

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.

Feds Finally Take Action to End School to Prison Pipeline
by nancy a heitzeg

Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division responded to more than a decade of data-driven critique of zero tolerance policies, the criminalization of education, and the creation of a school to prison pipeline. The Departments jointly issued extensive new guidelines urging schools to abandon zero tolerance policies, reduce a “policing” approach, and rely instead on restorative justice .

Persistent and consistent disparities in rate of suspensions and expulsions are the heart of the official critique. As the New York Times notes in “The Civil Rights of Children“:

“The guidance documents included striking data on racial inequities. For example, African-American students represent only 15 percent of public school students, but they make of 35 percent of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and 36 percent of those expelled. Statistical information does not in itself prove discrimination. But research has shown that black students do not engage in more serious or more frequent misbehavior than other students.

The treatment of disabled students should be a source of national shame: They represent 12 percent of students in the country, but they make up 25 percent of students receiving multiple out-of-school suspensions and 23 percent of students subjected to a school-related arrest.”

This is consistent with a growing national concern over the school to prison pipeline.  The U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice committed in 2012 to addressing disparities in the school suspensions and expulsions as a civil rights matter, including filing suit against the State of Mississippi for operating a school to prison pipeline in Meridian. In December of 2012 the first ever Congressional hearings on the school to prison pipeline were held and featured expert testimony that detailed both the scope of the problem and solutions including calls for decreased funding incentives for police, increased funding for counseling, support staff  and educational resources, mandatory nation-wide data collection on suspension, expulsion and arrests at school, and support for evidenced-based solutions to end the persistent racial disparities that shape the contours of the pipeline.

The guidelines leave some questions – especially around the police presence at schools-but they are a much welcome step forward that reminds us too of the importance of federal framing and leadership. The complete set of resources is included below.


Government for Good: Why We Need SNAP and More..

November 04, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, 2016 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Economic Terrorism, Government for Good, Intersectionality, Poverty, What People are Doing to Change the World

“Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.”

~ Senator Paul Wellstone ((July 21, 1944 – October 25, 2002)

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In era where government is so vilified, we at Critical Mass Progress would like to consider Government for Good. Collective governance – past present and future – can work to defend/secure rights, distribute social and economic goods, provide legal recognition, jobs, healthcare and more, create opportunities via public schools, public works, and public policy that centers everyday people.


Today, the importance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

poverty PNG


Half A Century Later: March on Washington

August 24, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Education, Intersectionality, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

Revelations: 44 is 52

August 04, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Arts and Culture, Intersectionality

Happy Birthday to President Barack Obama!

“It’s Simple Mathematics”

February 16, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Housing, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege


Real Solutions Don’t Demand Marriage, Just lots of Math..

See also Prison Culture, The Atlantic and The Washington Post

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Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005)

February 04, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality

U.S. Post Office Releases Stamp on Rosa Park's 100th Birthday

U.S. Post Office Releases Stamp on Rosa Park’s 100th Birthday

Rosa Parks, Revisited by Charles M. Blow, New York Times:

On the verge of the 100th anniversary of her birth this Monday comes a fascinating new book, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” by Jeanne Theoharis, a Brooklyn College professor. It argues that the romanticized, children’s-book story of a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history in a moment of uncalculated resistance is pure mythology.

As Theoharis points out, “Rosa’s family sought to teach her a controlled anger, a survival strategy that balanced compliance with militancy.” …
Parks, like many other Americans who over the years have angrily agitated for change in this country, had been sanitized and sugarcoated for easy consumption.

As Theoharis writes: “Held up as a national heroine but stripped of her lifelong history of activism and anger at American injustice, the Parks who emerged was a self-sacrificing mother figure for a nation who would use her death for a ritual of national redemption.”

Fortunately, this book seeks to restore Parks’s wholeness, even at the risk of stirring unease.

The Rosa Parks in this book is as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Black History Month.

Inaugural Poem: “One Today”

January 21, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Spirituality

The Youngest, The First Latino,The First Openly Gay Inaugural Poet

The Youngest, The First Latino, and The First Openly Gay Inaugural Poet

One Today

by Richard Blanco


One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

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Watch the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Live on CMP (Transcript of President’s Speech Included)

January 21, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Eco-Justice, Economic Development, Housing, Immigration, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights


Watch the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Festivities Live

Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech

Watch the President’s Second Inaugural Speech