DAY 14: Education: The School to Prison Pipeline

“For education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent.” –W.E.B. Dubois, author

Our public educational institutions are intended to be a place where all students regardless of their identity or background can learn and grow. However, disciplinary practices in many school districts today are not consistently enforced between racial groups. Black kids receive harsher disciplinary actions in schools. This results in diminished opportunity and undue punishment known as the School to Prison Pipeline. This systemic flaw funnels students, especially students of color, out of schools and into the criminal justice system. 

The Pro Publica data for Anson, Cabarrus, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Iredell-Statesville county school districts reveals similar trends, with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools suspending or expelling Black students almost six times more likely than white students.

Based on data from the American Civil Liberties Union, students who have been suspended are twice as likely as their peers to repeat a grade, three times as likely to drop out of school and three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system. Taken together, these facts lead us to an alarming conclusion that students of color are at a particularly high risk of moving from the school system to the criminal justice system.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…


Learn about North Carolina's School-to-Prison Pipeline, your local school district policies and how they may disproportionately affect certain students.
Read this article about how the school-to-prison pipeline continues today despite local, state and national efforts to change the disciplinary practices.
Check out this study to better understand how Black girls are being pushed out of school with suspension rates six times that of white girls.


Watch this video outlining the school-to-prison pipeline and how it disproportionately impacts students of color. Out-of-school suspensions have doubled since the 1970s and continue to increase even though juvenile crimes have continued to drop.
Watch this TEDx video featuring Dr. Benjamin Williams, Ph.D., current principal and founder of Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, an all-male public school. Dr. Williams discusses using the school system as a tool for empowering young men of color through the lens of restorative justice.
Watch this TED Talk featuring Dr. Monique Morris, author and social justice scholar focusing on the experience of Black girls in the education system.


Listen to this podcast featuring Bob Kim, author of Elevating Equity and Justice: 10 U.S. Supreme Court Cases Every Teacher Should Know, discuss Supreme Court cases that continue to shape our education system.


Get to know your school board and, most importantly, vote in school board elections. 


Take part in this week's service activity: Food Drive

Food insecurity in our region impacts a growing number of families due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our food distribution partners have asked for the following donations: canned entrees (e.g., spaghetti-o’s, chili, etc.), canned meat, canned soup or stews, canned low-sodium vegetables and canned fruit. Learn more and give back.




Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a journal page for today.
If you are participating in the Challenge as part of a group, download this free guide to help facilitate discussion.

NEXT TOPIC: Legal System Inequities   

To support this work give here.

Return to Daily Content