Thursday, May 11, 2017

Institutionalized Slavery: The American School to Prison Pipeline

Companies that supported Jim Crow, pay women less than men, have discriminatory hiring practices against those who look, speak or are culturally different also support the school to prison pipeline. "Poverty and prison are a billion dollar industry!" Therefore there's direct connection to companies that won't hire felons once they've served their time and reenter society, yet they are apart of the problem that causes innocent people to get trapped into a system for rehabilitation of criminals just to fill a seat. Imagine if we were more intentional about filling the seats in classrooms that we are about filling beds in prisons.

In order for more of our children to find academic success, stakeholders need to be equally engaged, empowered and educated on and in the policy making process. All stakeholders, not just the middle and upper class citizens, but all stakeholders. If policy makers are looking to implement policy around attendance but don't talk to communities with equitable transportation resources or parents working 2-3 jobs, then the intent is for their child(ren) to become a statistic. It's time out for us to implement policies that protect some and police others. 

On the grassroots level, we must find ways to unlock those students who have been and targeted on the prison track. We must also create healthy transitions and success plans for students who struggle with certain academic areas, those who don't want to go to a four year college and the youth and adults who have served time. The revolving door and reentry to prison can be closed by the people. Public policy has a stamp on human life! Attendance, suspension and even discipline policies all have bias. They are designed to fix a targeted problem that our schools are being the driving mechanism driven by the our societal prejudices. We have to be mindful of our unconscious bias towards those who look like us and those who don't.

The United States has 25% of world's population in prisons.
The United States has over half of it's prison population Black or Latino, large numbers of males.
The United States has 2.3 million citizens are housed in prisons. 

We spend more money on citizens in prisons than we do on children in schools, seniors in nursing homes, veterans in hospitals or homeless families in shelters. If you want to know the intent, follow the money. It's clear that the wealthy are still racking in dollars off the backs of those they disenfranchise and leave us scrambling for the change. It's time for the disenfranchised citizens to do what Dr. King was calling for before this country and it's politics killed him. Organize, unify and educate in order to break the inequities in our economic, education and justice systems.

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