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For this project i conducted to separate interviews from people of the same school district that
went to essentially the same schools and educational system. One of them, Ernesto mendoza,
ended up falling through the cracks of the educational system, causing him to not really get
above an education of a sixth grader. Another interviewee is now currently a second year at the
University of California Davis. Although both come from similar backgrounds and educational
experiences, they both ended up on completely different paths. After I conducted the interviews I
found that although both never felt directly discriminated against in the school system, they both
somehow felt less than other students even though they were never directly told so. The
educational system provides resources to a certain extent but students of low-income, first
generation families it is harder to be aware and truly value what it will be like to pursue a higher
education. There are various cultural norms within minority students that sometimes there are not
enough resources that truly provide the help they need, which would be to help educate family
support systems or to have counselors on campus that would help keep students on track to help
prevent student to prison pipeline situations from occuring.
Minorities are victims to different types of discrimination. Theres is the basic social
discriminations that occur with racial slurs or not being treated the same in public spaces, but
something that gets overlooked a lot of the time is the type of access minorities have to increase
and develop their education. An example of a type of social injustice that minorities face is the
school to prison pipeline. The school to prison pipeline is essentially the reason children do not
fully get to college (4). It is the crack in the educational system that does not provide enough
support for the children whom need it, which eventually causes them to get pushed out of the
educational system, causing them to “fall through the cracks” leading them to take part of the
school to prison pipeline. The school-to-prison pipeline affects specific groups of students and it
is consistently throughout their educational career. The majority of students affected tend to be
minority groups, LGBTQ community, students with learning disabilities (1), English learners,
low-income and overall, first-generation students. These students are pushed out of the
educational system because they are being expelled due to minor infractions, not being provided
with the necessary academic resources or they are simply not given the support they need in
school and/or at home. Students need to be encouraged to pursue their education and not be
pushed out of the school system because of their reputation or the way they deal with situations
going on at home. The school to prison pipeline is affecting minority students but if there were
enough resources to students that were easily accessible and if there were to be more
encouragement for students to pursue a higher education, there would be a major decrease in
leaks in the school-to-prison pipeline.
Overall, there has been a wide range of research conducted showing that minority students are
the particular groups of students that see the most repercussions in their education because they
are not prioritized. They tend to not be prioritized within the educational system because they are
the ones that have other priorities besides school. For the most part, minority students have to
help maintain the household, which requires working from a young age. There is also the aspect
of cultural norms that implies in certain groups that women should not achieve an education or
are not capable of it, so girls are affected by the norms that they are supposed to stay in the
household and maintain the home. Boys tend to see the negative aspects of education due to their
behavior in the school environment. Studies show that Latino Boys are two to three times more
likely to be incarcerated than a White boy. This is due to the fact that they do not have the same
support systems (4). Although they may have the same type of behavior in school, Latino boys
receive different treatment because there is already this expectation that they are misbehaved
children and are provided with a lot less opportunities and room for error (4). There is also the
group of students with learning disabilities that do not receive the academic support they needed
and eventually end up incarcerated (1). There is a study thats shows that 28% of juvenile
delinquents that qualify for special educational services due to learning disabilities (2). In
addition there is more than half of the population of juvenile delinquents that qualify for special
education needs under emotional disturbance (2), consequently there is a theme of juveniles
being incarcerated because their educational and emotional needs are not being met.
To conduct research i interviewed two people that grew up in the same town under the same type
of circumstances and that had very similar experiences at home and in school. I asked two people
that I knew that had experiences that I wanted to observe and know more about and asked them
if they would allow me to interview them. During my interview i asked if it was okay and got
their permission to record the interview and to use their responses in this paper. I asked questions
based on their demographic information and then moved onto their experiences at home and the
type of support they had as well as asking about their educational experience. Asking about their
educational experience i asked them to go into detail about the type of educational support that
was available to them as low-income, first-generation students and if they could describe to me
if they ever felt like they had been discriminated against in classrooms. Continuing with the
interview I asked Ernesto Mendoza, interviewee that ended going through the pipeline, his
experiences that he thought caused him to fall through the cracks. I continually asked for more
details about the way he thought he was perceived at school and what types of role models he
had and why he believed he ended up eventually getting incarcerated. With my second
interviewee, Dulce Garcia who ended up attending the University of California Davis, I asked
questions about her support system at home and at school and if she felt as if she could have
gone through her educational experience as successfully as she has without that support. I carried
on by asking about the ways she was treated and if she ever felt like she was treated differently
than other students due to her reputation or her relationships with teachers. I ended the interview
by then asking them if they felt if anything distinguished their educational experiences and if
they thought they could change one thing that would have caused them to fall on the opposite
track of the school-to-prison pipeline.
From my interviews I concluded that although both felt like their experiences through the
educational system was due to their own actions, I concluded that they were not paying attention
to the outside factors that were helping to determine the path they were on. With Ernesto
mendoza the interview essentially was composed about him taking the blame for his actions and
that if he would have behaved better, than he would have ended up on a better track. He stated
that he was expelled from sixth grade soon upon returning from living in Mexico. He was
expelled from the district and was not allowed to go back to school until eighth grade, which
bupon that point, the teachers already had a reputation for him because he was not at the same
educational level as the other students. At home, he was exposed to cultural norms that expected
him to not go to school and to go straight to working. In addition, he stated that although there
were programs at school to help him academically, he never interacted with them because he did
not feel like he was smart enough. He continued by mentioning that he never felt like he was
treated differently than other students, but that teachers would get frustrated a lot more easily
with him than with other students because they already knew that he was “no good”. He
continued by discussing the person he looked up to, someone who he wanted to be when he was
older, and it was his older brother who had only reached an education up to eighth grade, due to
being pushed out of the school-to-prison pipeline as well. Eventually Ernesto ended up
incarcerated due to minor infractions once he was older.
Dulce Garcia had a different but similar educational experience. She stated that when she first
arrived from Mexico she was put into different classrooms with other Spanish learners but she
always felt less than other student because she was not at their academic level at a young age.
She felt like she had all the resources available but still felt less than because she was the
minority in her school as an English-Learner. She continued by saying that in high school she did
know she had special treatment over certain students that were categorized as bad students
because she was shown a lot more leniency from teachers when it came to assignments and
curved grades. She felt like she was always aiming to prove her family wrong because of the
cultural norm imposed upon her that women could not succeed in school and especially not as a
science major. Continuing by saying that without the support of a specific group of people
consisting of one of her science teachers and her uncles that she thinks that she would not have
ended up on the path to college.
Both interviews show how two low-income first generation students went to the same schools,
had cultural norms imposed but were both able to end up on completely different paths. Both
should have felt like they were a priority in school and both should have had the support system
they deserved to be able to achieve a higher education, although only one of them did. There is
always a specific group of students that is pushed to continue with their education and another
group that is forgotten because they are bad students. This becomes relevant because without the
support system of an educational program or support at home or mentorship from a specific
person can completely change the course a student is one. Students are going to be the future and
they all deserve equal opportunities within their school systems(3). If students are being
punished by being expelled at such young ages, they will never know fully what they did wrong
and will continue to make the same mistakes they were making within the school system in the
working world, causing them to eventually end up incarcerated.
To Conclude, the school-to-prison pipeline is a major reason why prisons are overflowing. The
majority of juveniles that end up incarcerated is a consequence of the behaviors they had at a
young age that was never really corrected but simply punished. In order to correct this there has
to be more support readily available for students to not only access, but know that they are
entitled to resources and help. There should be more programs implemented into schools that
will provide academic advising, emotional support, and help students get mentorship at school
when it is not available at home. By changing the way school treat students by changing the
types of repercussions their actions have and by making them understand that their actions are
not okay with seminars and with workshops, instead of the classic expulsion, students will learn
to understand that they need to change the way they are acting. As well as making instructors
understand that they need to be patient with students because they are in the end just kids who
are going to be making constant mistakes and overall just need guidance (3). Eventually with
these types of changes put into action there will be a decrease in the school-to-prison pipeline
and the amount of students affected by not only the cultural norms imposed at home, but the
social construct of what creates a bad student. There should be future studies on this topic and
the way that implementing one of these programs can help decrease the school-to-prison
statistics. There also should be studies conducted on specific people affected by the pipeline to
see why they feel they ended up on the path they did, having more information on this will allow
us to determine not only what is actually going on within the school system, but how to help
change the mentality of students that they are doing something wrong. There may be some
limitations in the aspect that it takes a long time to interview people that have gone through the
school-to-prison pipeline because for the most part they are every reserved on their experiences
because they feel ashamed. There is also the aspect that people that have gone through the
pipeline unaffected, do not realize what helped them to get to that point so it would be more of a
survey conducting what resources were available and which ones they accessed. The school-to-
prison pipeline affects more people than we know and is a growing social problem because
within this society a higher education is necessary to succeed, but with the correct
implementation of new programs and with the elimination of expulsions and zero tolerance
policies hopefully there will be a decrease in the leaks within the school-to-prison pipeline.
1. Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities. National Council
on Disability, 2015.
2. Counts, J., Randall, K. N., Ryan, J. B., & Katsiyannis, A. (2018). School Resource
Officers in Public Schools: A National Review. Education and Treatment of
Children,41(4), 405-430. doi:10.1353/etc.2018.0023
3. Milner, Richard, et al. “Confronting Inequity / Are the Kids Really Out of Control?”
Classroom Management: Reimagined , Sept. 2018.
4. Seroczynski, A. D., & Jobst, A. D. (2016). Latino youth and the school-to-prison pipeline:
Addressing issues and achieving solutions. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 38(4),
423-445. doi: