Shutting down the school-to-prison-pipeline

Did you know that only 55.5% of Philadelphia students graduate from high school? What happens to the rest of Philadelphia’s public school students?

The reality is that many students end up unemployed, in dead-end jobs or incarcerated. In fact, the trend of public school students leaving school and becoming incarcerated has a name: the school-to-prison pipeline.

The School District of Philadelphia’s accelerated schools are one of the few options available to students who have left or been pushed out of neighborhood and magnet schools but still want a degree. However, when budget cuts had to be made earlier”this year, accelerated schools were the first on the chopping block. That’s when members of grantee organization Youth United for Change (YUC) stepped up to the plate. Holding rallies, educational forums, and attending City Council meetings, YUC got City Council to promise $8.2 million toward the accelerated schooling budget. Thanks to YUC, 13 accelerated schools will be able to keep their doors open.

Alternative schools are not enough to stop the school-to-prison pipeline. That’s why Bread & Roses grantees such as Youth , Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) are disrupting the cycle by organizing to repeal Act 33. This law allows youth to be charged as adults for crimes including aggravated assault and robbery. Treating young people as adults when it comes to crime is a mistake. And YASP has organized door-to-door canvasses to change this.

But YUC and YASP can’t stop the school-to-prison pipeline on their own. The reality is that we all need to commit to the fight to end unfair and unjust incarceration, and to pressure the city to live up to its promise of fully funded, effective educational practices. This is the kind of real change that Bread & Roses’ grantees and their community of supporters like you fight for.

Members of Youth United for Change flood a City Council hearing to fight for continued funding of
accelerated schools. Photo by: Karla Molina