Civil Rights Group Encouraged by Obama Administration’s Commitment to End School-to-Prison Pipeline

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Contact: Jumoke Balogun, 202-728-9557, jbalogun@advancementproject.org

September 30, 2015                                                        

Civil Rights Group Encouraged by Obama Administration’s Commitment to Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline; Urge Tangible Action

WASHINGTON – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today announced plans to dramatically reduce incarceration for nonviolent offenses and to reform school discipline policies. Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis released the following statement in response:

“Secretary Duncan got it right, the school-to-prison pipeline has devastating effects on young people. Mass incarceration starts in preschool with suspensions and arrests. We cannot stay on this path. We must address racial bias and how it impacts decisions that affect students. Secretary Duncan’s acknowledgement is a result of years of grassroots organizing around the criminalization of students who have suffered the consequences of exclusionary discipline.

“While we are encouraged by the Department of Education’s commitment to end the school-to-prison pipeline, we must move beyond simply acknowledging racism and make greater investments in student success, rather than punishment.

“In that regard, the Department should ensure that any school climate transformation program must provide resources to hire support professionals. We need to invest in counselors, social workers, school psychologists and restorative justice practitioners who can better address the needs of students, not law enforcement officers who exacerbate the problem.

“For years, parents and youth organizers have called for an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. They are being heard but one question remains; what policies will this Department of Education and this Congress enact to end the criminalization of our children?”

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Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.