Separate but equal education has long been unconstitutional in the U.S. Since the landmark case 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, all students are guaranteed an equal chance to learn.
In reality, this is not the case.
Black students and students with disabilities are disciplined far more often and with harsher disciplinary measures than their White peers for similar offenses.
The end results of this discipline disparity are higher rates of suspension and expulsion for Black students and those with disabilities. This raises the probability that these children will spend the rest of their lives in and out of the criminal justice system.
This is known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
The effects of this pipeline have both a human cost and a financial cost.
Follow the lives of two students in Missouri, one White and one Black. Student A finishes his education and builds a successful career, and Student B finds herself expelled from school and with a juvenile record.
The cost of the school-to-prison pipeline is not just a social one. Robbing students of their future is expensive.
From 1979 to 2012, Missouri’s expenditures on state and local corrections ballooned more than 183 percent more than the state’s expenditures on pre-K-12 education grew in the same time period.
For comparison, a quick look at some of the costs of the school-to-prison pipeline:
Lifetime earnings and no high school diploma: $973,000 vs. Lifetime earnings with a bachelor’s degree: $2,268,000.
By working to dismantle these disparities in discipline, we can make sure all Missourians have an opportunity for an equal education. Justice doesn’t stop at the schoolhouse door.