hands through prison bars

b&b52 The School to Prison Pipeline | The PIC Series, Part 3

This whole prison industrial complex thing runs deep and starts early. While the anecdote that the prison industry uses 3rd grade standardized test results to predict how many prison beds it will need to build hasn’t been proven (mostly because it sounds like no one will fess up), factors like illiteracy, truancy, and suspensions are big indicators of whether or not a child will end up in prison.

Add to the mix the new high stakes testing models (don’t pass the test, don’t get a diploma), and we are setting up more kids for a “life of crime” than any other time in history. In the third part of our prison industrial complex series, we explore the very real connection between schools and prisons.

Episode Highlights:

Pam: California alone spends $62,000 per year per prisoner, and they spend $9,200 a year per child in school. That’s crazy, the disparity of that number.

Pam: From 1996 until 2002, right when No Child Left Behind become law, 68 of the 100 largest urban districts had rising graduation rates. 24 of them actually achieved double digit increases in their graduation rates and only 4 of them had drops. From 2002 to 2006, right at the beginning of No Child Left Behind, 73 of the largest 100 districts experienced declining graduation rates. In those 4 years that No Child Left Behind was enacted, the number flipped on its head from schools having rising graduation rates to declining graduation rates. And being a high school dropout is one of the biggest indicators that you are going to end up in prison

Pam: Here’s how hard it is to actually get your high school diploma after you re-enter from being in juvenile detention: So, 57% of people who re-enter actually enroll to get their GED. So, over half of them want to get their high school diploma. 79% of them drop out after one year. 5% of the people who enroll to get their GED actually get it. 50% of them are back in prison after 3 years.

Pam: The California state teachers retirement system portfolio has an $8.6 million holding in the Corrections Corporation of America. The state teacher’s retirement system in California is invested in the private prison industry.

Pam: When we have students who can’t read on grade level at third grade, they’re 4 times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently. So third grade is the year. We can tell this by the time a kid is 8 years old what track they’re gonna be on. You don’t think that the private prison industry who has denied up and down that they pay attention to these stats, you don’t think they’re looking at this to determine how many more beds they get to build in the next 20 years?