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  • The Narrative Project

CT Voices Releases Report on Primary Drivers of School to Prison Pipeline


May 27, 2020 Mercy A. Quaye


New Haven, CT – Connecticut Voices for Children today released a report that examines Connecticut's school to prison pipeline and the racial disparities that exist across programs and systems. The report, entitled "Beyond Exclusionary Discipline: Re-Conceptualizing Connecticut's School to Prison Pipeline to Address Root Causes," offers recommendations that seek to mitigate the factors that make it more difficult for students to achieve in school and put students at an increased risk of facing exclusionary discipline and justice system involvement. "Students and families cannot control for structural and systemic factors like socioeconomic inequality, health inequities, and discrimination, but policymakers have the power to take steps to address the factors that affect a student's ability to achieve," Emily Byrne, Connecticut Voices for Children Executive Director said. "We need to put equitable policies and practices in place that work to dismantle the barriers that impact a child's success." "The state has been successful in decreasing the rates of school arrests and reducing the use of exclusionary discipline through policy change," said Jessica Nelson, Assistant Policy and Research Fellow, "but when you look at the data, you can see noticeable racial disparities in the students still being impacted. Until we address the root causes that push students through the school to prison pipeline that lead to these disparities, marginalized students will continue to be harmed." In the report, CT Voices notes that traditional research on the school to prison pipeline focuses on school practices and policies, but does not take into consideration structural and systemic factors. CT Voices identified several factors that push students through the school to prison pipeline. These include structural and systemic factors that fall into three categories: discrimination, physical and mental well-being, and socioeconomic status. CT Voices discovered:

  • Discrimination from teachers, administrators, and law enforcement can result in unwarranted discipline, depressed grades, and more frequent arrests for marginalized students.

  • Physical health inequities and lack of behavioral health and disability resources in schools make it more difficult for some students to succeed.

  • Families and neighborhoods with limited socioeconomic resources face barriers to providing the resources students need for academic achievement.

The factors in each of these categories interplay and overlap with each other, creating unique situations and highlighting the way that students can experience multiple aspects of marginalization at once. To address these root causes, CT Voices offers the following recommendations:

  • CT Voices recommends that Connecticut schools provide additional counselors, social workers, and therapists to support students and teachers.

  • CT Voices recommends that Connecticut schools hire teachers and administrators who have backgrounds that are relatable to the students they serve.

  • CT Voices recommends that Connecticut schools dramatically limit the use of exclusionary discipline to create an environment that is supportive, not punitive.

  • CT Voices recommends that Connecticut schools provide teachers and administrators with ongoing training and support on anti-racism.

  • CT Voices recommends that Connecticut schools expand services and partner with other organizations to provide greater support to students and their families.

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About Connecticut Voices for Children Connecticut Voices for Children is a “think and do” tank working to ensure that Connecticut is a thriving and equitable state, and where all children achieve their full potential. In furtherance of its vision, Connecticut Voices for Children produces high-quality research and analysis, promotes citizen education, advocates for policy change at the state and local level, and works to develop the next generation of leaders.

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