School to Prison Pipeline

The school to prison pipeline represents one of the most pressing issues facing our education system, which we must address by moving toward preventative measures. Our definition of safety cannot be based only on reacting to situations as they develop; rather, it needs to be proactive in preventing dangerous situations from developing to begin with. Increasing the police presence in our schools will not inherently make our students feel safer; in fact, some evidence suggests that the current trend in increasing School Resource Officers actually creates a less inclusive school environment. While the dedication to our schools of our School Resource Officers is important and appreciated, as a district, it is our responsibility to balance both the physical and psychological well-being of our students. “Safety” is not simply punishing students for inappropriate actions, it is the absence of those actions in the first place. Our goal should be to use preventative measures, such as social emotional learning and counselor visits, to ensure that issues do not develop to a degree where police action is necessary. Our schools should be designed to ensure that our students are safe, and that means fostering close faculty-student relationships that allow for early identification of potential issues. In addition, an increase in availability for mental health resources and counselors will allow students to address their concerns and receive the help they need. By promoting an environment of inclusivity in our schools, we can prevent actions associated with social ostracization from occurring. Furthermore, by fostering a feeling of community within our schools, we can help our students feel safe within school walls, knowing that they are surrounded by people that truly care for one another. In conjunction with the work of our school staff and counselors, we can instill a sense of confidence in our community that our schools are safe spaces for our students. By valuing prevention over punishment, we will promote true safety within our schools and dismantle the school to prison pipeline.
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