The school to prison pipeline, a well documented phenomenon, refers to the ever increasing connection between public schooling and the penal system. In high correlation with zero-tolerance policies and high stakes testing, schools are more and more relaying on policing and mechanisms of surveillance to control students. Disciplinary concerns previously within the domain of the school are more frequently being turned over to school safety officers and the police. Students suspension remains a problem, particularly for Black and Hispanic males.

The exclusionary practices of schools range from extreme punishments for minor infractions to providing limited and limiting educational opportunities to students based on disability labels and standardized test scores, policing and surveillance in schools, increasingly more interactions with law for school based offenses, and the over representation of Black and Hispanic males in prisons.

High-stakes standardized tests and zero-tolerance policies in public schools have created a direct school-to-prison pipeline, in particular for students of color. These marginalized students are excluded from their classrooms, the general curriculum, and their schools as a whole. Often times school incidents lead to incarceration and for many, when school is no longer an option, many of those disenfranchised teenagers turn to crime. High school dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who graduate. The school to prison pipeline is a representation of the societal structures and beliefs that systematically marginalize certain populations in multiple ways. Thus, as we seek to disrupt the pipeline, the work must come from multiple sources and use a plethora of strategies, some of which are explained in this teaching tool. The change we hope to see, in part through an adoption of these practices, must come from all of us.