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Report Reveals School-to-Prison Pipeline Enacted In Los Angeles County

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African-American pupils are far less likely to take college prep classes and more likely to miss school because of suspensions.

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According to a new study conducted by The Education Trust-West, an Oakland based nonprofit advocacy group, African-American students in Los Angeles County are significantly less likely to take rigorous college preparatory classes that are required for admission to California universities. These students also miss more school days because of suspensions than their Caucasian counterparts.

These students demonstrate significant learning gaps by the second grade. The learning gaps widen with age and lead to the highest school dropout rate among all races, according to the report released Monday. “What we have in this state for African American students is a school-to-prison pipeline, where they are more likely to go to prison than college,” said Arun Ramanathan, The Education Trust-West’s executive director. “We need to forcibly intervene as a California community to prevent this from continuing.”

When educators and activists met on Monday to discuss solutions to the problems, Franklin Gilliam, Jr., a UCLA professor of public policy and political science, said that earl childhood support was “the single most important thing you can do” to give black children a solid start. The report, for instance, cited research findings by the Rand Corp. and Children Now that found African American toddlers were less likely than their white peers to have books at home or be read to everyday. The report also cited 2004 Rand findings that only 13% of black children attended preschools with teachers who have degrees in early childhood education, compared to about 41% for whites and Asians. “Whatever adjective is worse than bad, this is it,” Gilliam said about the plight of black students. “We’re concluding, either explicitly or implicitly, that these are throwaway kids.”

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Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.