Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state. Ironically, schools contribute directly to this dubious distinction. The phrase, "school-to-prison pipeline," describes how schools convey students directly into the criminal justice system through "zero-tolerance" policies that criminalize mundane school infractions, which are called status offenses.
These policies lead to high suspension and expulsion rates. Dana Kaplan of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana explains our state of affairs.
New Orleans' highly touted education reforms are receiving praise in the same newspapers that also highlight daily occurrences of flagrant violent acts committed by school-aged children. Signs of growth for students in reformed schools are encouraging. However, what innovations are provided for youth who have been pushed-out, dropped out or are otherwise disengaged from our educational systems?
WWNO's first in a three-part series of feature reports in conjunction with "American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen"; a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities find solutions to address the dropout crisis.
We're taking a look at issues involving public schools in New Orleans, with Dr. Andre Perry of Loyola University reviewing problems in the education system, how New Orleans is faring, and what's on the horizon for improvements.