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Racial Disproportionality in the School-to-Prison Pipeline
For Black children, experiences with school discipline are often not an opportunity to learn, they are a pathway into the criminal justice system. At every step along the way, this pathway is faster and even more consequential for Black students than for their White peers. Implicit and explicit biases result in Black children’s behavior being managed more harshly, perceived as more dangerous, and more often deemed sufficient to justify expulsion in comparison to their White peers. There are formal and informal pathways for removal, starting in preschool, and the consequences for Black children in particular are stark. Policies often allow racial disproportionality in the school-to-prison pipeline to be ignored, or even facilitated. This chapter reviews the factors driving disproportionality in the pipeline and the current policy landscape. It also identifies ways in which schools, districts, and preservice teacher preparation programs can disrupt and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.