For far too many students, entering the gateway to incarceration begins with a referral from the classroom to the courtroom. This phenomenon is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund described this pipeline as “funneling of students out of school and into the streets and the juvenile correction system perpetuates a cycle known as the ‘School-to-Prison-Pipeline,’ depriving children and youth of meaningful opportunities for education, future employment, and participation in our democracy.” The emergence of the school-to-prison pipeline has been impacted by trends in school disciplinary practices and zero tolerance policies. It is our challenge to dismantle this pipeline and create new pipelines to success for all children. In order to undertake in this endeavor, we must first become knowledgeable on this contemporary civil rights issue. Let’s begin with examining the landscape of America’s classrooms and juvenile justice system.
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