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The school-to-prison pipeline: disproportionality among students of color and effective alternatives
There have been many studies done in the past ten years that question the effectiveness of zero tolerance policies and its contribution to the school-to-prison pipeline. Rather than creating an atmosphere of learning, engagement and opportunity, current educational practices have increasingly blurred the distinction between school and jail (Heitzeg, 2009, p. 1). Youth of color in particular are at increased risk for being ―pushed out of schools—pushed out into the streets, into the juvenile justice system, and/or into adult prisons and jails (Heitzeg, 2009, p.1). I conducted an interview with a former principal to gain insight first hand to how zero tolerance policies affect schools, specifically students of color, and alternative steps he has taken to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. My research and findings supports that school systems need to shift their focus to increasing student engagement and relationship-building among teachers, students, and families, and utilizing problem solving and prevention work to improve the school climate and community (Mallett, 2016, p. 299). I will make recommendations for current and future teachers to support this shift for a more restorative justice system.
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