Schools have vastly become victimized by the school to prison pipeline. The alarming rate of student suspensions and expulsions has a direct impact on the academic achievement of those students involved. The outcome is a perception that teachers have the ability to discipline well which is contrary to the original purpose of education. Schools can eliminate the school to prison pipeline by utilizing alternative strategies that empower teachers.

Recent authors of the article, School-to-Prison Pipeline Can Be Dismantled Using alternative Discipline Strategies, surmise that elimination of this phenomenon includes providing counseling and support services to help students modify their behaviors, providing teachers with training that helps to allow an increase in self-awareness, and the transformation away from zero tolerance policies will help to eliminate the school to prison pipeline. While the recommended strategies have some credibility, they lack the depth needed to dismantle the school to prison pipeline.  

Dismantling the school to prison pipeline requires an indebt analysis of the contributing factors. It is safe to say that the real challenge exist between the students and the adults. In most cases, it is student and teacher expectations that are the primary contributing factors. In order to dismantle the school to prison pipeline it is best to begin with an analysis of the human interactions that lead to challenge.

Many assume that the behaviors of the student have a premium due to power structure in schools. However, many of the incidents that lead to the school to prison pipeline are a product of the perception and reaction of the teacher to student behaviors.

What  student behaviors could cause behaviors that contribute to the school to prison pipeline?

One student behavior that could lead to placement in the school to prison pipeline is classroom question and answer sessions. Question and answer sessions are pinnacle to the education process in that they provide an opportunity for teachers to assess student progress. When there is resistant to this process the impending result is a conflict between the teacher and the student.

Cultural conflicts between the teacher and Black students that result from the basic question-and-answer sessions are a product of a process where Black students learn that question-and-answer sessions develop when an adult is angry with them. In addition, Mexican American students also exhibit question and answer techniques that can become the prelude to placement in the school to prison pipeline. For example, Mexican American students respond only when spoken to, initiate only to ask academic questions, and fail to volunteer responses or make other types of questions or comments in the regular classroom. These preferences can become frustrating and problematic for many teachers.

Teachers who become frustrated with this aspect of the learning process may provide a negative response because the lack of student progress becomes a threat to their existence. If a teacher knowingly allows students not to participate in the question and answer session it will eventually have a negative impact on standardized testing. This can also have an impact on teacher evaluations and become a jeopardizing factor for the quality of life for a teacher. Furthermore, educators who react negatively to student call response behaviors may strain the relationship between the teacher and the student. Other than the parent, the teacher is the most important factor that contributes to the positive progress of students.

This is where dismantling the school to prison pipeline must begin. It must begin with positive classroom relationships between the teacher and student. Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence.

Instead of blaming policy makers, teachers, and students for their continued contributions, schools need eliminate the negative relationships that continue to fuel the school to prison pipeline.

Related Articles

Watch: Breaking Down the School-to-Prison

Miss Black Maryland USA talks plugging the school-to-prison pipeline

Segregated Schools In St. Louis Are Not An Accident



Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


          Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant classroom management cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant racism in schools

“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”  ~ Tom Coleman ~ Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools


“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

One thought on “How to dismantle the school to prison pipeline?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *