NEA: Our Public Schools are a ‘Pipeline to Prison’

Guest Post by Gary Everest

Our public schools are a pipeline to prison, huh???

When I first read the phrase “School-To-Prison Pipeline” as used by the National Education Association (NEA) in their document NEA Policy Statements 2016-2017, Discipline and the School-To-Prison Pipeline, I wasn’t surprised.

I remember thinking, “It’s about time they get behind imprisoning teachers for having sex with their students.”

The surprise came when I realized instead of supporting the imprisonment of philandering teachers, the NEA is claiming that public school discipline policies are a direct pipeline to prison for many students.

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In their policy statement the NEA exposes their latest attack on America’s public schools.

“The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately places students of color, including those who identify as LGBTQ, have disabilities, and/or are English Language Learners, into the criminal justice system. [These] students…are significantly more likely to drop out of school altogether,… and end up in prison.”

Is the NEA about to play the race card?

“The school-to-prison pipeline is the result of an array of policies and practices, fed by institutional racism.”

Yep they sure did! The NEA claims that public school employees who hold students responsible for their criminal actions are institutional racists as we see in the following examples.

1.      If as a teacher you cooperate with the police investigation of the black female student who assaulted and injured you in your classroom, you’re a racist. To add insult to injury, your principal claims it was your fault the girl assaulted you.

2.      If you tell the school security officer there’s a transgendered boy (girl???) harassing female students in the girl’s bathroom, you’re a racist.  The parents demand action.  Instead, school administration threatens to charge the parents with hate crimes.

That’s how the NEA sees it, responsibly hold a child accountable for his or her criminal acts, you’re a racist.

They then go on to describe our local public schools as places that because of institutional racism…

.…criminalize minor infractions of school rules; [and have] increased policing and surveillance…that create prison-like environments in schools.”

I’m pretty sure that the above examples are not minor infractions of school rules, and I am certain that they are not minor infractions of your state’s criminal code either.

And as for our schools being prison-like?!?  I’ve been in many schools over the years, if that’s how prison is, sign me up.

Rather than deal with children that commit criminal acts in a responsible manner, the mindset of the NEA is that they would like our schools not to report the above crimes to the proper authorities; instead the NEA is asking our schools to …

Change or do away with ‘Zero-Tolerance’ policies”.

Why?  Because Zero Tolerance policies demand that certain actions have certain consequences.  However, the NEA argues that certain children because of their race, sex, sexual identity, or whatever their deal is, deserve to be treated differently than white students.

Equally important to the NEA is a…

“…deepening educator awareness about their actions and the impact on students.”

The “actions” they’re talking about is a teacher or administrator calling the police when a protected class student is committing, or has committed a crime in school, and how this might negatively impact the student.  They might just be held responsible for their actions and we wouldn’t want that.

The NEA also encourages

“the development and implementation of restorative practices to build healthy relationships and a community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing.”

The term “restorative practices” is key in that sentence.  To oversimplify, restorative practices if implemented in a school will take away metal detectors and security officers, and replace them with good morning hugs from teachers and staff. And if a crime does occur, don’t call the police! Instead the NEA wants schools to use student peer mediators and support staff.  To do what?  I don’t know.

If you’ll pardon the clichés, it seems to me that they’re throwing the baby out with the bath water, and this all makes little or no sense to me, how about you?

Gary Everest is a former homeschooling parent and advocate for the homeless.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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