The School-to-Prison Pipeline, Part I: An introduction

Originally published in WBFO on September 24, 2019.

What is the school-to-prison pipeline? What does it look like in Western New York, and what’s being done about it? A joint series from WBFO’s Education and Racial Equity desks is delving into those questions and more.

The phrase “school-to-prison pipeline” is one we hear all the time. The issue even took center stage during the first round of Democratic presidential debates in July.


New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Jasmine Gripper, legislative director and statewide education advocate for the Alliance for Quality Education, spoke to WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom in June about how students of color are disproportionately punished.

“It ends up being that you talk back or you don’t listen or some other non-criminal behavior, you’re just automatically tossed out of school,” said Sen. Montgomery, who represents a Brooklyn district.

“When a student is white, they’re often met with a stern talking to [or] after school some sort of punishment, but nothing that actually pushes them out of school,” Gripper said. “But on the other hand, Black students are getting the most severe punishment, which is often some sort of long-term suspension.”

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