June 5, 2014 Update:
The presence of police officers in schools has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, and as a result, so has the number of students receiving misdemeanor and felony charges. African-American and Latino youth appear to bear the brunt of zero-tolerance policies and out-of-school suspensions. Fault Lines correspondent Wab Kinew traveled to Texas, where being late for class can get you sent to jail, to examine the difficulties of disrupting what the U.S. government now refers to as the school-to-prison pipeline.
In January, as part of Getting Schooled, an America Tonight special series on some of the biggest issues in U.S. education, we looked at where and how the school-to-prison pipeline is playing out throughout the country.
For a preview of the Fault Lines episode, tune in to America Tonight Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT. Catch the entire episode Saturday at 7 p.m. ET/4 PT.
At a luncheon honoring Martin Luther King Day on Monday, NAACP attorney Monique Lin-Luse took the stage in Salt Lake City and urged the attendees to honor the iconic leader’s legacy by taking on “one of the greatest civil rights challenges today.”
She was talking about the school-to-prison pipeline. Minority students are more likely to be steered from graduation by harsh school punishments — suspensions, expulsions and even arrests — that leave them disaffected, more prone to drop out and entangled in the criminal justice system. The problem is so systemic that the Obama administration issued new recommendations on classroom discipline earlier this month, geared toward ending the gaping disparity.
As part of this week's Getting Schooled series, correspondent Sarah Hoye traveled to Wake County, N.C., which advocates say has one of the largest school-to-prison pipelines in the country. What she uncovered is just a slice of what some researchers and educators argue has been going on around the country for years. How prevalent is the pipeline? And what’s to blame? America Tonight broke it down.
In Wake County, 40 percent of black students caught with cellphones were suspended last year, compared with 17 percent of white students
Jason Langberg, the supervising attorney of Advocates for Children Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, investigated the racial lopsidedness in student suspensions in Wake County. In an analysis of discipline data, he found that black students in the county’s schools were suspended five times as often as their white peers. But he said there’s no evidence to suggest that black students act up more often or more severely than white students. And this disparity is found not just in Wake County.