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Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Logo of the Equal Justice Society
November 18, 2013

Too many schools put children of color in the "school-to-prison pipeline," funneling them out of the education system and into the criminal justice system. Children of color are three times more likely to get sent to the principal's office, suspended, or expelled than are their White schoolmates. Students of color who suffer from learning, behavioral, or physical disabilities are even more vulnerable to unfair disciplinary actions at school.

Why do teachers more harshly discipline their students of color, and how can the legal system help end this injustice? These were the questions attorneys from the Equal Justice Society, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the National Center for Youth Law, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and California Rural Legal Assistance brought to SPARQ. Our three-hour discussion explored social psychological interventions to counteract teachers' implicit and explicit racial biases, weighing the evidence for each idea's efficacy against its cost, feasibility, and acceptability in the school context.