• The School-to-Prison Pipeline: How Education Has Failed Our Most Vulnerable Students: A Meta-Synthesis

      Vandivier, Andrew (University of Alaska Southeast, 2018)
      Beginning in the 1980’s, America began a ‘war on crime’, taking a tougher stance with longer sentencing on minor crimes. During this same time, and acting in concert, federal educational legislation began the policy of Zero Tolerance within schools. This meant that disciplinary issues, previously handled within schools, were now being addressed as criminal charges. This increased harshness and severity in punishment for school aged youth created a school-to-prison pipeline in which tens of thousands of students became incarcerated in juvenile and adult correctional facilities. The unintended consequence of creating safer school environments was that a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged, minority, and youth with emotional disturbances were excluded from their learning environments and locked away in correctional institutions. Over the past four decades increased awareness about this disproportionality, along with a better understanding of mental health issues, has caused an upward trend in alternative educational strategies for our most at-risk and vulnerable student populations. Many of these alternative school settings still lack appropriate behavioral management interventions, social services, and mental health clinicians necessary to deal with root cause issues, but we are gradually trending back away from exclusionary, restrictive, and punitive punishments.