ost of us have heard the term the “school-to-prison” pipeline, but perhaps you aren’t completely clear on what it is or how it works. A new video by the Advancement Project that uses throwback clips of classic television shows, “The Cosby Show” and “Saved By the Bell,” is meant to illustrate exactly what drives the mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth. The video highlights the fact that kids today are more poorly behaved than in the past, but that punishment for even minor disciplinary infractions in school casts them criminals. When Zach Morris was disciplined for using a phone in class, we didn't see Mr. Belding calling the cops.
“It has been this way for a long time but in the 1980s, there was a shift in the discourse around young people and there was this new term used to describe them, 'superpredator.' Young people had been dubbed superpredators right in the middle of the crack cocaine epidemic and the height of the war on drugs,” Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, told EBONY.com. “The intersection of these things, were the leading cause to a crackdown on young people’s [behavior].”
“Schools then started to adopt 'zero tolerance policies' along with drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors. Then came the 1990s, with the Drug Free School Zones Act which requires expulsion for carrying a gun on school grounds. Zero tolerance policies are the kind of discipline that requires a particular kind of exclusion and it is a practice of harsh discipline.”