EDITORIAL: EDITORIAL • Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline FROM Rethinking Schools
Teachers, students, parents, and administrators have begun to fight back against zero tolerance policies—pushing to get rid of zero tolerance laws, and creating alternative approaches to safe school communities that rely on restorative justice and community building instead of criminalization. (See Haga.) A critical piece of that struggle is defying the regimen of scripted curriculum and standardized tests, and building in its place creative, empowering school cultures centered on the lives and needs of our students and their families.
Some of the most exciting work with youth is being built around campaigns to stop police harassment in schools and on the streets, stop gang injunction legislation that criminalizes young people on the basis of what they wear or where they live, and increase budgets for education and social services instead of law and order. Youth provide leadership in these movements in ways that are different from what we often see in classrooms. Learning from these campaigns and making the critical connections to our own work will enable us to build a viable, principled movement for public education.
Our resistance grows from classrooms that are grounded in our students’ lives—academically rigorous and also participatory, critical, culturally sensitive, experiential, kind, and joyful. When combined with a determination to fight the school-to-prison pipeline at every level, that resistance has enormous capacity to build and sustain true social justice education.