Students with Dignity in Schools t-shirts ushered into an 150-person overflow room, which would also fill up

The Washington Post's Donna St. George reported on the Senator Durbin's "School-to-Prison Pipeline" hearing in the US Senate last week. The article begins:

At a congressional hearing billed as the first-ever focused on ending the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Edward Ward emerged as a voice of experience.

Ward, a recent high school graduate from Chicago, recalled classmates suspended for failing to wear ID badges and security officers patrolling hallways. Arrests were so common that a police processing center was created on campus “so they could book students then and there,” he said at the hearing Wednesday.

Suspended students “would disappear for days,” Ward said, “and when they got kicked out, they would disappear for weeks.” He recounted the story of a cousin suspended so many times he dropped out.

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Even as an honor student, Ward said, “I felt constantly in a state of alert, afraid to make even the smallest mistake.”

Ward testified about the violence and poverty of his neighborhood and the harshness of his school in a Senate hearing room crowded with students, parents, lawyers, educators and activists from Washington and far beyond — 250 people in all, with another 150 people in an overflow room.

It was a defining moment for the issue, which advocates call the school-to-prison-pipeline. It refers to get-tough disciplinary practices that steer students out of schools — through suspension, expulsion or police involvement — and into the criminal justice system.

The full piece can be read here: ‘School-to-prison pipeline’ hearing puts spotlight on student discipline - The Washington Post.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has sent out a form inviting individuals and organizations to use to alert their congressmen and senators about the importance of this issue. Click here to download the template.

Another take on the hearing, plus photos including the one posted above, can be found at Youth Today, "U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hears Testimony on School-to-Prison Pipeline."

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