Lessons on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Now this is the story all about how... young students of color today are unfairly suspended, expelled and arrested with harsh zero-tolerance policies.

By Julianne Hing Nov 11, 2013

What do "Saved by the Bell," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "The Cosby Show" have to teach us about models of school discipline in today’s schools? That so much of what passes for school discipline these days is actually an extremely harsh and unnecessarily punitive introduction to the criminal justice system. 

A new video from the Advancement Project highlights exactly the sorts of student infractions–talking out of turn or failing to keep to the dress code–which used to be dealt with with a stern talking-to or at worst, detention but which these days can mean suspension, expulsion or even arrest for far too many students. As the video points out, even one out-of-school suspension doubles a student’s chances of dropping out of school.

But a key point the video doesn’t mention is that harsh zero-tolerance policies disproportionately target black and Latino youth. Such harmful school discipline wouldn’t be excusable if it were evenly applied across all races, but it also happens to be deeply racially skewed.

Click here for more about the Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track campaign.