Implementing fair and just disciplinary actions to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline

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Before we start, we would like to introduce ourselves. We are a group of students in Ka'u High School–a rural high school in the small town of Pahala in the Big Island–ranging from grades 10-12. From what we have observed, some disciplinary actions have been ineffective and actually places students on the school to prison pipeline. However, we also observed that students of color are affected by the school-to-prison pipeline more than white students. For example, in 2014, in a data report published by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, "Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. On average 5% of white students are suspended, compared to 16% of black students." Moreover, these students are more likely to attend an under-developed school and live in areas of poverty.

What is the school to prison pipeline? The school to prison pipeline is a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these childrens have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out. 

Every man in my family has been locked up. Most days I feel like it doesn’t matter what I do, how hard I try—that’s my fate, too.”
—11th-grade African American student, Berkeley, California

School to prison pipeline is a form of racial discrimination–affecting people of color more often. The school to prison pipeline is a reason why many adults identifying as a minority ends up being incarcerated.  We need a change in the education system that accomplishes both: (a) ensure students are getting the best education they can; and (b) ensure students are receiving fair punishments to students regardless of race.

[PLEASE READ] WHAT THIS PETITION PLANS TO DO

The approaches this petition is asking for include:

  • Ending suspension in public schools. Suspension is ineffective and causes students to lose much needed educational time.
  • Offer alternative disciplinary methods such as: community service, mediation programs, counseling, appropriate in-school suspension (so students don't miss educational time), reward system for positive actions.
  • Raise awareness and ask that students from other school districts to become knowledgeable about the school to prison pipeline.
  • Encourage schools and the Department of Education to adjust the current curriculum and teach more about the racial inequalities of the criminal justice system, school system and in society. Racial inequality is a topic most textbooks tend to ignore.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT AN AGGRESSIVE APPROACH TO ATTACK A SPECIFIC RACE OR ORGANIZATION. OUR GOAL IS TO RAISE AWARENESS ON THE RISING ISSUES OF THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE.

We ask that you sign this petition and raise awareness. With lots of support, we'd like to encourage state legislators, school districts and complex area superintendents to implement alternative disciplinary strategies.

Love,

Students of Ka'u



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