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Obama Administration Moves to Close School-to-Prison Pipeline For Black Students

The Obama administration yesterday took a major step toward stemming the school-to-prison pipeline that funnels Black boys into the criminal justice system, when Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan together urged schools to stop suspending students for minor infractions that disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic students.

African-American students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, officials said.

“The need to rethink and redesign school discipline practices is frankly long overdue,” Duncan said, as he and Holder went to Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore to unveil the first ever national guidelines on school discipline.

They chose Baltimore because that city has been singled out for its success in bringing about a major reduction in student suspensions in recent years. In addition, the state of Maryland is expected to vote on reforms to state discipline policies later this month.

In his comments, Duncan said racial discrimination in school discipline is “a real problem today — it’s not just an issue from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.”

The Obama administration officials said too many schools resort to suspension, expulsion or arrest for problems that could be handled in more constructive ways, resulting in offenses that once landed students in a principal’s office now leading to a police precinct.

“Too often, so-called zero-tolerance policies, however well intentioned they might be, make students feel unwelcome in their own schools; they disrupt the learning process,” Holder said. “And they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people, increasing their likelihood of future contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.”

The nation’s secondary schools suspend or expel 2 million students each year, with 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions for nonviolent offenses such as disruption, disrespect, tardiness and dress code violations.

“That’s a staggering amount of lost learning time and lost opportunity to provide more meaningful support,” Duncan said. “These are all issues that must be dealt with clearly, effectively and with a sense of urgency when they arise, but I must ask: Is putting children out of school the best solution, the best remedy, for those problems?”

According to Duncan, students should be removed from classrooms “as a last resort,” and only for serious infractions such as endangering the safety of other students or teachers.

Studies have shown that students who are suspended more than twice are much more likely to wind up in prison.

“These much-needed guidelines send a strong message from the federal government that it takes seriously the criminalization of children, particularly children of color, in schools. It acknowledges that race plays an improper role in school discipline practices with long-term negative consequences for students’ educational outcomes,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., said in response to the release of the new federal guidelines.

“This is historic,” Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, told the Washington Post. “Disparities in school discipline have been documented since the 1970s, and we’ve never been able to get the federal government to step in and help stop it.”

The new guidelines were released as part of a “guidance package” with multiple materials and an online compendium of discipline laws and regulations across the country.

In addition, the administration is planning to send $50 million in grants to more than 1,000 schools with the purpose of training teachers and staff in research-based strategies aimed at improving student behavior and school climate.


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19 thoughts on “Obama Administration Moves to Close School-to-Prison Pipeline For Black Students

  1. Angie Albertus Buck says:

    There is no "pipeline". The only thing funneling people into prison? Their bad choices and bad behavior. Period.


  3. Monica Cea Cea Whittsette says:

    When you are white in this country you have the privilege
    Of not having to think about how race affects pretty much every aspect of living in the United States. So before you go commenting on how there is "no pipeline" or that this issue is exaggerated – remember that your worldview is shaped through a place of privilege (being white in America) and you will not be able to see these issues as non whites do. And before you say that your life isn't privileged – yes it is. You live in a country dominated by people who look like you, talk like you and who have historically made policies that have overwhelmingly benefited you. That's privilege whether you agree with it or not.

  4. Anna Belle says:

    and that's just your opinion. before you talk about whites.. which you have no idea how we feel.. because you are not one.. don't put words in our mouths..what the heck am I able to get that you cant? you tell me.. what more of a privilege do I have that you don't!! I am sooooo sick of hearing you black people whing and whing.. I have seen the hate brewing from each page that I read on facebook where they sprew hatered crap about black power and dominating the world and slavery and this and that.. I can not wait to die and get out of this god forsaking world !! if it wasn't for taking care of some people that I love I would .. trust me! all yall want to do is keep on keeping on about slavery and not being privileged.. let me tell you .. the only thing different is that you teach hate and division.! I don't. that's my privilege .

  5. Anna Belle says:

    that's exactly right.. !!! don't be a thug.. and you wont go to prison.. you make your own choices.. if you choose the wrong one , its no ones fault but yours.. !!!

  6. Joann Wilson says:

    i bet you are white , even you should know not that not every one in p rison is as a result of bad decison, that would mean that every one in prison is guilty, which is BS. Have you every learn that saying " i judge no man unless i walk a mile in their shoe> you must try being a black person in america especially male and see how that goes for you then you can talk… try it for some days or rather do a documentary,, wire one and follow him around, conduct it on a black male and a white male,, both must do the same thing and see how that plays out,, then you are in a position now to talk, until then >>>>>>>>>!!

  7. Anna Belle says:

    Joann Wilson , don't even go there.. I am aware of how people go to prison, and for the most part they put themselves there but the choices they made.. and you know it.. its high time to stop blaming white people for your down falls.. I am sure that it could be different, being a different race.. in different area's in the states.. but that being said, if a white person or anyother race comes to a black area , just how will they be treated? .. I know two men is black and the other is white.. they work at the same place .. doing the same thing.. and both are treated equal.. and both are friends…one does not think he is better then the next,, they simply have their own lives.. they are equal.. not everywhere in the US is a hard place .. yes I have heard that saying " i judge no man unless i walk a mile in their shoe" I know it all to well.. I am not a rich person.. but live on the outside of a rich neighborhood.. and they treat me different too. so don't go there..

  8. Anna Belle says:

    Joann.. thugs come is in all race's.. I am just saying .. surely at some point .. they have chose to make a decision that put them on the wrong path,, I did too.. when I was young.. so I know how it goes.. I came dang close to going to prison for something I did not do.. but I did get 10years probation.. and a felony on my record for the rest of my life..just because I was around the wrong person.. and didn't speak up.. lesson learned.

  9. Miso Hornee says:

    just a new version of 'it's not me, it's the System'

  10. Hendricks Monica says:

    People, that's willful blindness and white ignorance/privilege talking.

    Angie, sweetie, anytime prisons are run FOR PROFIT, a system of supply is needed to meet the demand for prisoners and bring in revenue. That's the "pipeline" referred to in this article.

    For those hiding behind the administration of justice, who better to target than Black males, already stereotyped by society as scary drug-peddling, raping, robbing, murderous thugs? They're openly wanted off the streets, anyway.

    For private prison contractors, their Christmases all come at once. They provide the frightened public the service of caging Black males, which they want to do anyway, and they get paid for it, too!

    Two current cases revealing prison pipelines and corruption:

    Feds: Mississippi county runs 'school-to-prison pipeline' –

    The state Supreme Court tossed thousands of juvenile convictions last year after federal prosecutors charged former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella with racketeering, accusing them of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to place youth offenders in for-profit detention centers…

  11. Anna Belle says:

    oh yah, your such fine upstanding race.. look what you have done to Chicago.. :" Chicago’s politicians made it illegal to have a new handgun in the city with the 1982 ordinance (only overturned in 2010); now, because of almost-exclusively black violence in the city of Chicago, Jesse Jackson is hoping Homeland Security/TSA can come save the day [Jesse Jackson pushes new 'Occupy' plan: Have Homeland Security occupy Chicago with armed TSA agents, Natural News, 2-4-13]: " IF you don't like living in a as you put it, white America.. you may always go back to your homeland Africa.. there is nooo one stopping you , .. I am wising up to all yalls crap.. I have had to turn my heart to see the big picture, .. you blacks are pathetic … simply put.. Now I know WHY the Jews are kicking yalls butts out of their country ….

  12. Anna Belle says:

    Joann Wilson hummm a black person in a America.. lets see .. they are the only race that riots in the streets and jump on cars while beating white people up.. when they don't get their way,, or when they feel some type some type of injustice is done.. .. yet cry racism.. .. Amerrica is fastly becoming more black and other races,, but blacks have black universities and black radio.. black tv.. and if you want a city that's most all blacks.. go live in Detroit .. and look what your race has done to that city.. filled with murder and ridden with drugs.. oh and don't forget Martin Luther Kind day.. where all races have to celebrate it.. but when it comes to our presidents day.. we stay in school and at work.. ( not right for us whites to be proud of anything right? oh but who is raciest ?) …blacks are the most whiney race there is.. and violent.. you people get away with way to much.. America is a white country ,, just like Africa is a black country.. what the heck is wrong with that? I can guaranty there is no white people over in Africa saying what you do Joann.. take a look at what you blacks do to whites..until you figure out that your race is the problem with America then don't talk to me.. facts are facts.. !!!!!!!!!!!! I am done with this forum.. you people will NEVER admit to anything your race does.. its all whiteys fault..

  13. Angie Albertus Buck says:

    LOL. Monica, sweetie…you don't know me, or anything about me, so you can drop the endearments and the attempts at being condescending. It is tiresome to watch people playing the victim – black, white, women or men. We have many friends of all races and backgrounds who have done well for themselves and have wonderful lives. Why are they successful? Because they worked their butts off and made the right choices. Period. And by the way, Monica, you may want to take a look around. This country does not look "like me". It is not 1950, we are a true melting pot, and oh, by the way, the ultimate position of privilege in America is currently held by a black man, so what does that say about your theories?

  14. Hendricks Monica says:

    Angie, dear, YOU can deal in theory all you like. I deal with FACTS. You lied and said there are no pipelines, but the links I provided from FOX News and CNN prove otherwise! Nothing you've written disputes those facts…

    I refuse to believe that you are too stupid to understand that those children sent to prison ARE victims. The judges over their trials were PAID to incarcerate them. Had they been guilty, the exchange of money would have been unnecessary.

    If thinking the owners of those prisons and the judges were fair and just helps you sleep at night, dream on. In the meantime, thousands of those judges' convictions had to be overturned, wasting millions in tax payers' money.

    Angry, whiney people like you–who still make up 70% of the U.S. population and still have a firm grip the real reigns of power in the United States–make me ill. You have a really sick, twisted mind. Even with more and more White lies and scandals being uncovered by the day, you actually believe you are the victims.

  15. Angie Albertus Buck says:

    Oh, wow. Not worth my time. Taking my sick, twisted mind, lol, and headed to more informed discourse. Have a nice day. 🙂

  16. Angie Albertus Buck says:

    Oh, wow. Not worth my time. Taking my sick, twisted mind, lol, and headed to more informed discourse. Have a nice day. 🙂

  17. Hendricks Monica says:

    Angie Albertus Buck, yes, please spread your uninformed views elsewhere, and, yes, not viewing children falsely imprisoned as victims is evidence of a very twisted mind.

    For those children in the "Kids for Cash" scandal, your initial post:

    "There is no "pipeline". The only thing funneling people into prison? Their bad choices and bad behavior. Period.",

    is like saying "victims of rape usually deserve what happens to them".

    These kids' behavior didn't land them in prison, bribes to judges did.

    For every sane person here, please believe that Truth always shines the brightest light. Ignore their rhetoric. Hit people like Angie with FACTS and they will always scatter, like insects into the darkness.

    She's an idiot, but she can't honestly deny the existence of pipelines anymore.

  18. Yep your an idiot, fully unaware living in a bubble.

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