“The School to Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform” approaches the school to prison pipeline from a legal policy reform perspective. The introduction clearly states that the problem does not lie due to the students, but due to the failure of the institutions that care for the students to protect them. Thorough research supports the fact that students of color and disabled students are not receiving the support they need to keep out of trouble with the law.
The book first identifies what the social and educational needs of at-risk students are. It also identifies the structural errors that exist in schools today: overcrowded classrooms, lack of effective teachers and leaders, and socioeconomically biased teaching strategies. Then, the book discusses the national state and local responsibilities of the government and school system to fulfill those needs.
Then, the book discusses the national state and local responsibilities of the government and school system to fulfill those needs. It explains how “zero tolerance rules” in schools give harsh punishments without warning to unruly students. There are also details explaining how in-school police officers only lead to the increase of over-detention and over-incarceration of youth.
In summary, the authors of this book use legal research to define the rights of students of color and with disabilities. The research also allows them to propose reforms in the government and school system. It is an important read for students, parents, educators, and lawmakers alike.
Three authors contributed to this book: Catherine Y. Kim, Daniel Losen, and Damon T. Hewitt. Kim is an associate professor at UNC Law school and focuses on civil procedure and civil rights law. Losen is the director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA. Hewitt was the Director for the Educational Practice Group for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The three co-authors use their backgrounds to speak on the school to prison pipeline from an intersectional approach to civil rights, law, and education. I appreciated reading this work because it proposed realistic action steps to curing this pipeline.
The in-depth descriptions of various experiences that students experience in the hallways and classrooms on a day to day basis allow the reader to step into their shoes. I appreciated reading this work because it proposed realistic action steps to curing this pipeline. However, they remained realistic in stating that change will not occur unless it is a community effort to ensure that every child can succeed.
This allowed me to narrow down my research and focus on how educators can make changes within their own school districts. I see that small changes can be made across the board and those small changes can lead to larger ones across the country.