Oklahoma’s school-to-prison pipeline

Reimagining discipline in Oklahoma public schools



Georgia Brooks

 

“When schools are suspending students at high rates, we are, in fact, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. (African-American students) are significantly more likely to be suspended than students of another race.” 

— Former Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard, as reported in Sept. 11, 2015 edition of The Oklahoman 

 

Schools too often problematize students of color and exclude them. The disproportionate punishment of students of color in general, and young black males in particular, appears strikingly evident in both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City school districts, according to a 2015 report from The Oklahoman. This raises concerns about fairness and justice. 

Nationally, schools suspend and expel three times more black primary and secondary school students than white students, as reported to the Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). American Indian and Native Alaskan students comprise less than 1 percent of the student population, yet account for 2 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 3 percent of expulsions. Others students of color also experience disproportionate disciplinary sanctions. The U.S. Department of Education reports imbalances in school discipline begin as early as pre-K.

These early discrepancies in how schools mete out punishment seed down-the-line hardships for disciplined students and social problems for communities. In 2015, the Civil Rights Project said the staggering and foreseeable consequences borne by suspended and expelled students include: learning deficits, an enhanced risk of becoming high school dropouts and a predisposition toward criminality.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy defines the school-to-prison pipeline as “a social phenomenon where legal policies, education policies and social constructs funnel struggling children from schools to jails and prisons.”

Contributing factors to the school-to-prison pipeline include poverty, implicit bias, school policies (e.g., zero-tolerance, overemphasis on testing), ineffective strategies for meeting the needs of students with disabilities and the failure to address trauma-related issues tied to the destruction of traditional Native American cultures. 

The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the USCCR hosted public hearings in 2015 on the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The USCCR is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with studying and advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing federal civil rights enforcement reports. 

School administrators, teachers, legal professionals, nonprofit organizations, academics and advocates offered verbal and written testimony. The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the USCCR sought to determine the extent to which the application of school disciplinary and juvenile justice policies in Oklahoma discriminatorily impact students on the basis of race, color and/or sex. 

The Center for American Progress said that due in part to the pipeline, consignment to confinement now seems a mathematical probability for boys of color. “C” for convict has become the 21st century scarlet letter. 

Dr. Paul Ketchum, professor of criminal justice at the University of Oklahoma, noted that the race of the offender more profoundly influences the severity of juvenile court referrals, expulsions and school-based arrests than does the offense itself. There is nothing to suggest that nonwhite students have worse behavioral problems than white students, though nonwhite students have disproportionate contact with “the system.” This leaves boys of color academically delayed, disinterested and virtually abandoned by educators. They drop out, not just from school, but from productive life — a vicious cycle begun. 

For African Americans, the school-to-prison pipeline represents just one facet of “the New Jim Crow”: a latticework of laws, policies and practices that ensnare thousands of black men in the system’s vortex. That entanglement leads inexorably to incarceration and, with it, a pariah-like, lifelong status. This near-death spiral captures children, families and communities in a web of poverty and privation that saps our nation’s productivity and prosperity. Life in lockup adversely affects individual and family prospects across generations.

The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the USCCR made several recommendations:

  • A national study on the impact of school funding on race/color-based gaps in educational outcomes
  • Uniform licensing requirements to ensure that all law enforcement officers working in schools are properly trained and equipped to respond in an age-appropriate manner
  • State-imposed mandatory disciplinary policy reforms for schools with significant disparities in disciplinary actions on the basis of race, color or disability (e.g., cultural competence/implicit bias training)
  • School district-initiated measures to ensure that students receive a quality educational experience, even if in the context of an alternative schooling arrangement.  

Disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline is both imperative and urgent. We must act with dispatch and decisiveness to reimagine discipline in Oklahoma public schools. 

The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the USCCR seeks to foster constructive dialogue leading to the creation and implementation of strategies that slow, and ultimately eliminate, the school-to-prison pipeline. The operative assumption is that knowledge-sharing must precede behavior modification.

The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the USCCR conveyed its recommendations to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., together with a request to disseminate the suggestions to the following federal agencies with relevant jurisdiction: The Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights; the Department of Education, Office of Indian Education; and the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In addition, the proposals will be shared with Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation and public schools.

Local and state leaders should continue to monitor school discipline data and consider appropriate site and/or system-based interventions designed to reduce significant disparities in the application of discipline, especially suspensions and expulsions. Concerned individuals should request demographic discipline data from school boards and school administrators from which they may determine the prevalence and significance of a school-to-prison pipeline. Apathy and a lack of transparency serve no one’s interest.

Schools have begun to grapple with this troublesome issue. In July 2016, Tulsa Public Schools adopted new student discipline guidelines that introduced alternatives to suspension for less serious offenses. The TPS Board of Education adopted the TPS Behavior Response Plan for 2016-2017. This plan reflects a new disciplinary approach emphasizing intervention over punishment in appropriate cases. While much remains to be done, such progress should spark hope and provide the foundation for a continued commitment to identify sustainable solutions.

Visit usccr.gov for more information on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

 

 

 

Hannibal B. Johnson, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is an attorney, author, consultant and college professor. He serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and is the author of books on African-American history and culture.   

Add your comment:

 

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to The Insider!

Edit ModuleShow Tags

April 2017

Home of Hope’s Grand Celebration, June 3, will honor Oklahoma’s past and present governors for their significant efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities.  Honorees...

Cost: $125

Where:
Shangri-La Resort
31000 South Highway 125
Monkey Island, OK  74331
View map »


Sponsor: Home of Hope
Telephone: 191-825-67825
Contact Name: Misty Bingham
Website »

More information

Sungate Pool offers annual private pool memberships for families in the Tulsa community at an affordable rate. Take advantage of our early bird pricing before it ends May 1. Applications available...

Cost: $300/Family of Four

Where:
Sungate Pool
5358 South 70th East Place
Tulsa, OK  74145
View map »


Sponsor: Sungate Pool
Website »

More information

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

This is a ORU Baseball Game   https://mabeecenter.com/oru-baseball-2017/

Cost: 14 // 11 // 7 plus 2 s/c

Where:
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »

More information

Sunday, April 30, 2017 3:00 p.m. Williams Theatre 2:15 p.m. Pre-concert lecture Granados: Intermezzo from Goyescas Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Romanza con Variazioni from Piano Trio No. 2 Baran:...

Cost: $25

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Williams Theatre
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Chamber Music Tulsa
Telephone: 918-587-3802
Contact Name: J.J Cody
Website »

More information

Where:
The Venue Shrine
112 E. 18th St.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 949-1345
Website »

More information

it's that time again!  First Friday Art Walk @ MAINLINE welcomes Codak Smith and his exhibit, LEFTOVERS. Codak’s work is defined by an acute sense of how to utilize space and...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main st
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Curated by Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Janet Hasegawa, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the exhibition aims to look at the past, present, and future of tea - and the way this...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

BROKEN ARROW COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE Presents  “The Dixie Swim Club” By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten   The Broken Arrow Community Playhouse is...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
1800 S. Main St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Sponsor: Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
Telephone: 918-258-0077
Contact Name: Sherry Hacker
Website »

More information

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 794-4208
Website »

More information

Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Pianist Liza Stepanova, violinist Itamar Zorman and cellist Michael Katz perform a program of (mostly) Mediterranean music, featuring pieces by Enrique Granados, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ilan...

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center - John H. Williams Theatre
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918.596.7122
Website »

More information

Cost: $5-$15

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N. Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $25-$27

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918.584.2306
Website »

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 921-3535
Website »

More information

Get a new wave haircut and prepare for the raddest event in the city...it's the 15th Annual 80's PROM! • What to expect: Attendees​ arrive in over the top 80's costumes, some...

Cost: Advance $19 | Day of Show $23

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 N. Main St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Okkle Music
Telephone: 918-584-2306
Contact Name: Rob
Website »

More information

Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 582-7669
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sungate Pool offers annual private pool memberships for families in the Tulsa community at an affordable rate. Take advantage of our early bird pricing before it ends May 1. Applications available...

Cost: $300/Family of Four

Where:
Sungate Pool
5358 South 70th East Place
Tulsa, OK  74145
View map »


Sponsor: Sungate Pool
Website »

More information

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 794-4208
Website »

More information

Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 936-4994
Website »

More information

Cost: $5-$15

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N. Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: SOLD OUT

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918.584.2306
Website »

More information

TBA

Cost: TBA

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Benefits Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Telephone: 918-594-8014
Contact Name: Anhna Vuong
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

Tulsa Global Alliance presents Savor! An International Food Tasting Event Tues., May 2 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Tulsa Community College's Center for Creativity. Enjoy small dishes from Tulsa's...

Cost: $50

Where:
Tulsa Community College's Center for Creativity
910 S. Boulder Ave.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Global Alliance
Contact Name: Lisa Johannsson
Website »

More information

Tulsa Tycoons, a night of monopoly, 2nd edition will feature amazing food, mobile bidding silent auction, live auction, networking, and stories of JA impact! In addition attendees can engage in a...

Cost: $250 or $125 for under 40

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Benefits Junior Achievement of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-2132
Contact Name: Martha Rongey
Website »

More information

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 794-4208
Website »

More information

Where:
The Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 949-1345
Website »

More information

Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 936-4994
Website »

More information

Where:
Gypsy Coffee House
303 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 295-2181
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

“American Wrestler: The Wizard” comes to movie theaters nationwide for one night only on May 3 at 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. local time. Based on true events, the heartwarming coming of...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Tulsa, OK

More information

Curated by Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Janet Hasegawa, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the exhibition aims to look at the past, present, and future of tea - and the way this...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

The phenomenal Celtic Woman, about to embark on yet another world tour, is this year celebrating 12 years of success, with over 10 million albums and 3 million tickets sold worldwide.

Cost: Tickets start at $46

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74136
View map »


Sponsor: Mabee Center
Website »

More information

Multi-platinum international music sensation Celtic Woman presents VOICES OF ANGELS a captivating new show for 2017. VOICES OF ANGELS showcases the angelic voices of Susan McFadden, Mairéad...

Cost: $70

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 SOUTH LEWIS AVE
TULSA, OK  74171
View map »


Website »

More information

You know you've always had a yearning to be on-stage, and what a great place to start. Auditions for our 63 plus year raucous comedy is the 1st Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Cold...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Historic Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Telephone: 918-587-5030
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

Bring your pup out for a special evening to enjoy a walk in the Garden together.  Free for Garden members and member dogs; Regular admission applies; $4 per dog for non-members. Dogs...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $0-8 for admission plus $4 per dog for non-members

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

Curated by Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Janet Hasegawa, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the exhibition aims to look at the past, present, and future of tea - and the way this...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

GermanFest 2017 14th Annual GermanFest is set for May 5th – 7th  2017 at the GAST Center located in the heart of Midtown Tulsa, just one block west of Lewis on 15th Street. ...

Cost: Free Admission! Free Parking!

Where:
GAST Center
1429 Terrace Drive
one block west of Lewis on 15th St
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: German-American Society of Tulsa
Telephone: 303-514-9146
Contact Name: Cheryl Baker
Website »

More information

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

An exhibition to give artistic voice to immigrants, who have in recent years dealt with barriers and hardship, particularly in states like Oklahoma. The show aims to inform non-immigrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: Living Arts of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-585-1234
Contact Name: Laura Eccles
Website »

More information

Curated by Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Janet Hasegawa, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the exhibition aims to look at the past, present, and future of tea - and the way this...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

This unique tournament is played at night with glow-in-the-dark balls and glow sticks marking tee boxes and holes. Golfers will tee off in teams of four at the 9 p.m. shotgun start. All holes are...

Cost: TBA

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Benefits TARC
Telephone: 918-582-8272
Contact Name: Craig Thompson
Website »

More information

‘A Woman’s Eye’ MAINLINE is excited to present a new exhibit featuring 3 local photograhers Tahlia Ball, Christina Parson & Madison Rayon. From ‘quiet...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »

More information

Bartlesville High School presents The Addams Family a New Musical.  THE ADDAMS FAMILY features an original story, and it’s every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate...

Cost: $10 Student/$15 Adult

Where:
Bartlesville High School Fine Arts Center
1700 Hillcrest Dr
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Bartlesville High School
Contact Name: Alex

More information

Author Laurie Halse Anderson will receive the 2017 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature. She also will present awards for the 2017 Young People's Creative Writing Contest.

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Hardesty Regoinal Library
8316 E. 93rd St.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Benefits Tulsa City-County Library
Telephone: 918-549-7391
Contact Name: John Fancher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

THE BLUE ROSE CAFÉ PARTNERS WITH TANGO TAB TO BRING MEALS TO TULSANS IN NEED At Second Ever Feed the City Event in Tulsa (TULSA, Okla.) — The Blue Rose Café will be...

Cost: cost of food supplies listed on facebook event page

Where:
The Blue Rose Cafe
1924 riverside drive
tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: The Blue Rose Cafe
Telephone: 918-748-0111 x2122
Contact Name: Ashley Bode
Website »

More information

Germanfest 2017 14th Annual Germanfest is set for May 5th – 7th at the GAST Center located in the heart of Midtown Tulsa, just one block west of Lewis on 15th Street.  This premier...

Cost: Free Admission! Free Parking!

Where:
GAST Center
1429 Terrace Drive
one block west of Lewis on 15th St
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: German-American Society of Tulsa
Telephone: 303-514-9146
Contact Name: Cheryl Baker
Website »

More information

Saturday, May 6th, Accent Realtors is hosting their 4th Annual Shredding Event. Come on by the office from 11-1 to shred any unwanted documents and enjoy free drinks, food, and games. ...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Accent Realtors' Office
4625 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Accent Realtors
Website »

More information

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Contact Name: Ben Johnson

More information

Enjoy an afternoon at Tulsa BoysÕ Home signature Kentucky Derby themed fundraising event with races simulcast live, on-site betting, silent & live auctions, raffles, wine & cigar pull, best hat &...

Cost: 200

Where:
Pavilion at Expo Square
4145 E 21st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Benefits Tulsa Boys' Home
Telephone: 9182450231 ext 5055
Contact Name: Lucy Willis
Website »

More information

Curated by Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Janet Hasegawa, and in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the exhibition aims to look at the past, present, and future of tea - and the way this...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

An exhibition to give artistic voice to immigrants, who have in recent years dealt with barriers and hardship, particularly in states like Oklahoma. The show aims to inform non-immigrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: Living Arts of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-585-1234
Contact Name: Laura Eccles
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

‘A Woman’s Eye’ MAINLINE is excited to present a new exhibit featuring 3 local photograhers Tahlia Ball, Christina Parson & Madison Rayon. From ‘quiet...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »

More information

Bartlesville High School presents The Addams Family a New Musical.  THE ADDAMS FAMILY features an original story, and it’s every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate...

Cost: $10 Student/$15 Adult

Where:
Bartlesville High School Fine Arts Center
1700 Hillcrest Dr
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Bartlesville High School
Contact Name: Alex

More information

Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags