June 26, 2020

Day 12: Educational Disparities and The School to Prison Pipeline

DAY 12 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you for participating!

DAY 12: Educational Disparities & The School to Prison Pipeline

Our public educational institutions are intended to be safe havens where all students, regardless of their identity or background, can learn and grow. However, disciplinary practices in many school districts today are not consistently enforced between racial groups and foster a pernicious cycle of diminished opportunity and undue punishment that has become known as the School to Prison Pipeline. This systemic flaw funnels students, especially students of color, out of schools and into the criminal justice system. 

Students of color are disproportionately disciplined and are disciplined more harshly than white students. According to the Justice Policy Institute, “Black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students.”  We also know, based on data from the ACLU of Washington, that students who have been suspended are twice as likely to repeat a grade, three times as likely to drop out of school, and three times as likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system than their peers. Taken together, these facts lead us to an alarming conclusion: students of color are at a particularly high risk of moving from the school system to the criminal justice system.

Compounding this risk, U.S. schools today have more police officers than social workers or guidance counselors. This both deprives students of resources that could help them navigate challenges constructively and leads them to early and unnecessary encounters with the criminal justice system. These encounters disproportionately involve students of color and sometimes result in juvenile records that severely limit students’ life opportunities. This lack of opportunity can lead to more negative encounters with law enforcement, thus enmeshing these students even further in the criminal justice system. As Juvenile Law Center puts it, juvenile records “perpetuate the mass incarceration of people of color.”

Today we challenge you to explore the resources below and to learn about your local school district policies and how they may disproportionately affect certain students. We also encourage you to get to know your school board and, most importantly, vote in school board elections. 

If you have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


15 Minutes

and and
Watch this video 
outlining the School to Prison Pipeline and how it disproportionately impacts students of color.
and Watch this TED Talk 
featuring Dr. Monique Morris focusing on the experience of Black girls in the education system. 
and Read this article
from VOX that takes a deeper look into policies within educational institutions supporting a funnel into the criminal justice system.


BONUS: listen to this podcast episode from Justice In America focused on the School to Prison Pipeline and an in-depth conversation about how our education system evolved, the experiences of individuals in heavily policed schools, and ideas for moving toward a better system.

Daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to leave your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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