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From Education to Incarceration

Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Second Edition


Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Priya Parmar and David Stovall

The school-to-prison pipeline is a national concern, from the federal to local governments, and a leading topic in conversations in the field of urban education and juvenile justice. From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline is a ground-breaking book that exposes the school system's direct relationship to the juvenile justice system. The book reveals various tenets contributing to unnecessary expulsions, leaving youth vulnerable to the streets and, ultimately, behind bars. From Education to Incarceration is a must-read for parents, teachers, law enforcement, judges, lawyers, administrators, and activists concerned with and involved in the juvenile justice and school system. The contributors are leading scholars in their fields and experts on the school-to-prison pipeline.
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Chapter One: Criminalizing Education: Zero Tolerance Policies, Police in the Hallways, and the School to Prison Pipeline


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In the last decade, the punitive and overzealous tools and approaches of the modern criminal justice system have seeped into our schools, serving to remove children from mainstream educational environments and funnel them onto a one-way path toward prison. …

The School-to-Prison Pipeline is one of the most urgent challenges in education today.

—NAACP (2005)

The promise of free and compulsory public education in the United States is a promise of equal opportunity and access to the “American Dream.” This ideal is billed as the great democratic leveler of the proverbial playing field, and proclaims educational attainment as a source of upward social mobility, expanded occupational horizons, and an engaged, highly literate citizenry. This promise has proved to be an illusionary one, marred by a history of segregation—de jure and de facto, by class and race disparities, and by gulfs in both funding and quality. Despite some fleeting hope in the early years of the post–Civil Rights era, the promise remains elusive for many. Indeed, shifts in educational policy in the past 15 years ← 11 | 12 → have exacerbated the inherent inequities in public education. Rather than creating an atmosphere of learning, engagement, and opportunity, current educational practices have increasingly blurred the distinction between school and jail. The school to prison pipeline refers to this growing pattern of tracking students out of educational institutions, primarily via “zero tolerance” policies, and tracking them directly and/or indirectly into the juvenile and...

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