Advancement Project is an innovative civil rights law, policy, and communications “action tank” that advances universal opportunity and a just democracy for those left behind in America. We believe that sustainable progress can be made when multiple tools—law, policy analysis, strategic communications, technology, and research— are coordinated with grassroots movements.
For the past ten years, Advancement Project has focused on the use and devastating effects of harsh school discipline policies and practices and the increased role of law enforcement in public schools. We work at both the national level and on the ground with our community partners to examine, expose, and reform practices that lead to the criminalization of students.
Across the country, school systems are shutting the doors of academic opportunity on students and funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The combination of overly harsh school policies and an increased role of law enforcement in schools has created a “school-to-prison pipeline,” in which punitive measures such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly used to deal with student misbehavior, and huge numbers of youth are pushed out of school and into prisons and jails. In many communities, this transforms schools from places of learning to dangerous gateways into juvenile court. This is more than an education crisis; it is a racial justice crisis, because the students pushed out through harsh discipline are disproportionately students of color.
In response to this crisis, youth and community leaders across the country are fighting back in their local school districts and have mounted a national movement. Advancement Project works with grassroots organizations throughout the country to support work on the ground, build capacity for community-led work, and build bridges amongst those working to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
The goals of Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track are:
To document and expose the use of zero tolerance and other harsh disciplinary policies and the School-to-Prison Pipeline;
To develop and implement school discipline reforms on the local level that will serve as models for other communities;
To strengthen the capacity of the youth and parents involved in this work to become engaged citizens and agents of change;
To impact the national conversation about this issue in order to facilitate broader reforms.