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Experts to discuss how to disrupt ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ for students of color


BASICS: South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility, South Bend, IN. Rated for 136 beds, at time of visit the population was 89, all low and medium risk kids (no high risk) Crimes here range from theft, burglary, battery, everything but murder and sex-crimes. The average stay is between 6 and 9 months, no longer, the director […]



INDIANAPOLIS — A panel of experts on race and education will discuss the problem of the “school-to-prison pipeline” during a public event Thursday, April 17.

“The School-to-Prison Pipeline:  What It Is and What We Can Do to Disrupt It” starts at 6:30 p.m. at the IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450B. The event is co-sponsored by the Indiana University School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the IUPUI Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The event is free.

Five panelists from Indiana and Illinois will bring their perspectives to finding a solution. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to alarming statistics that show students of color facing disciplinary actions in school at much higher rates, which in turn tends to steer the students toward more serious problems outside school.

National statistics indicate 40 percent of students expelled annually are black; 70 percent of students arrested at school or referred to law enforcement are black or Latino; and black students are three and a half times more likely to face suspension than white students and twice as likely to never graduate high school.

“A recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report found that black youth fare poorly in the state of Indiana — one of the worst states for them,” said Chalmer Thompson, associate dean for research and academic affairs and associate professor in counseling and counselor education at IUPUI. “This panel was convened to shed light on the issue to a wide audience.”

Thompson said that to that end, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has offered 100 parking passes, available at the door, for members of the non-IUPUI community to attend without cost.

“We care about this issue of the school-to-prison pipeline not only because it pertains to black students, but also because it really affects everyone, and profoundly so,” Thompson said. “We know what works in creating schools that are engaging and inclusive. What we need to do is to rally our supports and resources. As Frederick Douglass once wrote, there is no progress without a struggle.”

The panel for the discussion is:

  • David Stovall, associate professor of educational policy studies and African-American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Stovall researches critical race theory, school-community relations, youth culture, and the relationship between housing and the K-12 school system.
  • Erica Meiners, professor of educational foundations, women’s studies and Latina/o and Latin American studies at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She specifically studies the educational policy prison/school nexus and is the author of “Right to be Hostile:  Schools, Prisons, and the Making of Public Enemies.”
  • Marvin Lynn, professor and dean of the School of Education at IU South Bend. An internationally recognized expert on race and education, he has researched the work and lives of African-American male teachers as well as the impact of teacher beliefs on African-American students. He is the lead editor of the Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education, published in 2013.
  • Subini Annamma, assistant professor of special education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI. Her work focuses on increasing access to equitable education for historically marginalized students and communities, particularly children identified with disabilities. Annamma’s work centers on urban and culturally diverse settings form public schools to juvenile justice.
  • Moderator Dexter Wakefield, education research coordinator at the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI. A longtime faculty member at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale where he coordinated the Agricultural Teacher Education program, Wakefield has focused research on underrepresented populations in agriculture, education, and the science, technology, engineering and math areas.

“We are fortunate to have a fantastic group of experts very close to home,” Thompson said.  “Each is willing to give of his or her time to take part in this event without compensation.  They see the urgency in helping us organize in Indiana.” 

Thompson added that the School of Education also plans to focus on the topic and is already planning a fall event.