Understanding the school-to-prison pipeline

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Michael Brown was beating the odds. He made it through the minefield that can be the public education system in America; he graduated from Normandy High; he had no criminal record; and he was poised to enter technical school to learn a trade. So why was he buried last week after dying at the hands of law enforcement?

To understand Michael’s tragic death, we have to understand the school-to-prison pipeline and its trajectory.

Early life: Like Michael, many black males across this nation grow up in communities like Ferguson, where they are educationally, economically and politically marginalized. Over 45 percent of Missouri’s black children live in poverty. And, as President Obama remarked in his response to Michael’s shooting, disparities for black males like Michael begin early; according to recent statistics released by the Department of Education, black children comprise 18 percent of preschoolers nationwide, but 48 percent of those receiving out-of-school suspensions. Every day in America, 16,244 public school students are expelled, and 6,191 of those are black. Research shows that such disparate discipline is rooted in implicit bias. 

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