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By Michelle Chen, RaceWire
Schools are supposed to offer children in struggling communities a pathway to better prospects, but they're increasingly becoming instruments of exclusion.
A coalition civil rights and community groups has launched a national campaign against school "push out." It's a different spin on the dropout epidemic: activists are calling attention to harsh, discriminatory institutional policies that marginalize and exclude students from the education system.
Various issues lead to children getting pushed out, but a common factor is a disciplinary approach that criminalizes kids for being, well, kids. It's hard to focus on learning when rampant suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and police presence make school grounds feel like a combat zone. The so-called school-to-prison pipeline, which substitutes the criminal justice system for educators and supportive peers, draws poor children of color onto a bleak trajectory from the moment they set foot in the classroom. Those who escape the grip of law enforcement, by the way, remain warehoused in impoverished schools where failure is virtually written into the curriculum.