NC Lawmakers Widening the School-to-prison Pipeline

Posted by on Apr 21, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

By Jason Langberg

It’s difficult to keep track of the unyielding missteps and destruction by North Carolina lawmakers. Their anti-poor people, anti-people of color, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-environment, anti- democracy, anti-public education, anti-gun control, anti-religious freedom agenda has generated widespread outrage and media attention.

But absent from public discussion about their countless failings is a recognition of how their policy agenda will expand North Carolina’s school-to-prison pipeline.

The school-to-prison pipeline is a system of laws, policies and practices that pushes students – disproportionately economically disadvantaged students, students of color and students with disabilities – out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems.

North Carolina has a huge pipeline. Last year, students missed nearly 800,000 school days as a result of almost 260,000 short- and long-term suspensions and languished for hundreds of thousands more days in inadequate in-school suspension rooms and alternative schools and programs.

Law enforcement officers – without adequate training, limitations and accountability – are stationed in schools across the state. Over 40 percent of delinquency complaints are school-based. Thousands of students are becoming court-involved as a result of minor misbehavior at school (e.g., disorderly conduct and truancy) that should be treated as normal adolescent behavior and teachable moments by educators.

If we don’t stop them, the governor and General Assembly will make our state’s pipeline even larger. Four pending bills and the governor’s proposed budget would hurt vulnerable students and make schools and the juvenile and criminal systems harsher, less rehabilitative and more punitive.

Read the entire op-ed.