The School to Prison Pipeline

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SPP cover.PNG

The School to Prison Pipeline


In the first unit of U.S. History in Reverse scholars engage with rigorous readings that uncover the complex history surrounding the school-to-prison pipeline in the U.S. dating back to the enslavement of African’s on the continent.

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Unit Summary:

In the first unit of U.S. History in Reverse scholars engage with rigorous readings that uncover the complex history surrounding school-to-prison pipeline in the U.S. dating back to the enslavement of African’s on the continent. Through this unit scholars build critical literacy skills while they uncover how the school-to-prison pipeline is the latest iteration of the systematic oppression of people of color (earlier systems being Jim Crow and Slavery). Scholars learn how the school-to-prison pipeline is intertwined with white supremacy, capitalism, classism, Jim crow, reconstruction and slavery. Readings include complex analysis as well as statistics around the prison industrial complex, and the educational systems. By making connections between US history from the 1600’s to modern times via rigorous close readings scholars build their critical literacy skills along side content knowledge. Through this Unit the teacher is not the expert in front of the class, but a guide supporting scholar discovery while scholars read, analyze, and synthesize information.

As with US History in Reverse curricula, scholars begin by reviewing current circumstances surrounding the topic, and then each subsequent lesson they walk further back into history unpacking the historical context that has lead to our current situation. This unit starts in the present, by providing scholars statistics, definitions and immediate causes for the school-to-prison pipeline. From here scholars start to unpack how the prison industrial complex and the War on Drugs relates to the pipeline. Then the learn how the War on Drugs was a response to Black Power movements, and a replacement of the Jim Crow era oppressive practices. Scholars also uncover the negative effects of Brown Vs. Board of Education on the education of people of color including the arming of police in schools. As scholars go further back in time they uncover how the power of education since slave times, and the means by which oppressors can use schooling for control. The Unit culminates in a project where scholars write how they would create policies that make public education liberating instead of a place of social reproduction and potential oppression. Scholars continue to demonstrate a deep understanding of the systems behind the school-to-prison pipeline to be able to describe actions to deconstruction the pipeline in their final paper, final assessment and the closing circle.

How this Unit Connects to Social Justice?

  • Content Connection: The enduring understandings that scholars walk away with builds on their race, class, and intersectional lenses to be able to see and name current systems of oppression. The unit culminates by scholars working on projects to deconstruct systems of oppression in this country.

  • Skill Connection: This unit incorporates a high degree of rigor through reading, text-based questioning and rigorous writing, preparing scholars with the skills needed to be advanced critical thinkers.

  • Pedagogical Connection: This unit is designed to be delivered in a manner that deconstructs traditional Eurocentric educational systems by incorporating circles and reinforcing that the teacher is not the expert but a guide on the journey with scholars. Additionally, readings work on minimizing Eurocentric language.

What’s in This Purchase?

  • A Detailed Unit Overview

  • The Re-Imagine Education Lesson Plan Template

  • 15 Lesson Packets (both Student copies and Teacher Copies with Exemplar Answers) including: 12 Close Reading packets, 1 project packet, 1 final assessment packet, and 1 closing circle packet. Note: All close reading lessons contain a Do First activity, a Close Reading with Guided Notes and Questions, an Extension Activity and Exit Ticket.

Unit Scope & Sequence:

  1. Close Reading Lesson: What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

  2. Close Reading Lesson: The Privatization of Prisons (90s & 00s)

  3. Close Reading Lesson: Reagan & the War on Drugs (80s & 90s)

  4. Close Reading Lesson: Black Panthers & Black Power (60s & 70s)

  5. Close Reading Lesson: Police Integration Into Schools (50s & 60s)

  6. Close Reading Lesson: Brown Vs. Board of Education (50s)

  7. Close Reading Lesson: Redlining and Housing Segregation (40s-70s)

  8. Close Reading Lesson: Jim Crow (1890s-1950s)

  9. Close Reading Lesson: Black Codes and Violence (Late 1800s)

  10. Close Reading Lesson: Slavery & Education (1600s to 1800s)

  11. Close Reading Lesson: Purpose of Public Education

  12. Close Reading Lesson : Schooling vs. Education

  13. Project: Create Your Ideal Educational System

  14. Assessment Lesson: School-to-Prison Pipeline Unit Final Test

  15. Discussion Lesson: School-to-Prison Pipeline Circle Questions

Standards Alignment:

Common Core Standard Alignment

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.3: Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

AP U.S. History Alignment

  • NAT-1.0 Explain how ideas about democracy, freedom, and individualism found expression in the development of cultural values, political institutions, and American identity

  • NAT-4.0 Analyze relationships among different regional, social, ethnic, and racial groups, and explain how these groups’ experiences have related to U.S. national identity.