Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The School to Prison Pipeline and What It Means for Repro Justice

Yesterday, we co-sponsored Human Rights Day in Rochester to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The evening event included a potluck dinner, reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a panel discussion on the "School to Prison Pipeline." The topic was coincidentally timely given the local buzz about a school safety issue at East High in Rochester and Superintendent Brizard's in-school suspension policy. The local chapter of the NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) was one of the lead organizations planning Human Rights Day; they invited a NYCLU attorney that works on the School to Prison Pipeline to speak on the panel. This morning, I had an opportunity to have breakfast with her and learn more about the School to Prison Pipeline. According to the NYCLU website:

The School to Prison Pipeline is a nationwide system of local, state and federal education and public safety policies that pushes students out of school and into the criminal justice system. This system disproportionately targets youth of color and youth with disabilities. Inequities in areas such as school discipline, policing practices, high-stakes testing and the prison industry contribute to the pipeline.
So you may be scratching your head trying to figure out how this relates to the work of Planned Parenthood. The work of the NYCLU addresses many civil liberties issues, including access to reproductive health care, comprehensive sex education, and privacy rights. It's easy to connect those issues with the advocacy work of Planned Parenthood. However, the NYCLU also addresses advocacy issues like immigrants' rights, LGBT rights, police accountability and criminal justice reform, protecting protest, and national security. From a reproductive justice framework, all civil liberties issues intersect in some way with sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In the example of the School to Prison Pipeline, Planned Parenthood does have a vested interest in helping youth succeed in school and become empowered citizens. The solutions that the School to Prison Pipeline suggests to decrease drop-out rates and address violence in schools are similar to the initiatives that help teens prevent unintended pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI's).

Some things that the School to Prison Pipeline suggests as possible solutions are peer mediation, conflict resolution, after school programs, truancy intervention, guidance counseling, mentoring, character education, teacher training on classroom management, and parental and community involvement initiatives. These programs would not only keep teens off the street, but would help them succeed in school and, if combined with comprehensive sexuality education, will also help teens prevent unintended pregnancy and STI's.

In fact, Planned Parenthood's teen programs in Syracuse and Rochester focus on engaging teens in peer education, community outreach, leadership development, and operating after school programs that provide a safe and supportive environment for teens. The School to Prison Pipeline also disproportionately affects teens of color and urban populations, demographic groups that we also know are disproportionately affected by unintended teen pregnancy and lack of access to reproductive health care. By working together with organizations like the NYCLU, we can achieve the PPRSR mission of helping people "lead a healthy and fulfilling life."

1 comment:

ProfSeeman said...

You make some good points above.
However, I also think that this can be helpful to you:
The book and Training Video: PREVENTING Classroom Discipline Problems

If you can get this book and video: [they are in many libraries, so you don't have to buy them] email me and I can refer you to the sections of the book and video [that demonstrates the effective vs. the ineffective teacher] that can help you.

If your library does not have them, you can get them at:


that are also used at this online course:

See: Reviews at: http://classroommanagementonline.com/comteach.html

If you cannot get the book or video, email me anyway, and I will try to help.

Best regards,


Howard Seeman, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus,
City Univ. of New York

Prof. Seeman