Educational equality is seriously threatened by the “school–to-prison pipeline,” the current national trend where children are pushed out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems because of overreliance on racially discriminatory school discipline policies. The increased use of suspensions, expulsions and arrests decreases academic achievement and increases the likelihood that students will end up in jail cells rather than in college classrooms. The burden of this trend falls disproportionately on students of color and students with disabilities, who are punished more harshly and more frequently for the same infractions that other kids engage in.
The Departments of Education and Justice should stop the school to prison pipeline by finalizing and issuing guidance to schools on the use of punitive school discipline policies. The Department of Education should devote resources to a detailed study on the impact of disproportionate punitive discipline and corporal punishment and use its full range of resources to encourage the elimination of the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools.