Kalamazoo College Student Experiences With the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Police Officers in Public High Schools
Moskal, Elizabeth (Libby)
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The purpose of this study was to understand the ways in which the experiences of current Kalamazoo College students varied during their high school years, as well as the extent to which this variation relates to the surveillance and policing measures present within their respective high schools. Through twelve structured interviews, ranging between 10-30 minutes long, I determined that Kalamazoo College students had significantly different experiences with the school-to-prison pipeline and police surveillance in high school. My group of participants consisted of a range of male and female students (though most were female), and students of several different racial and ethnic backgrounds including white, Latinx, and African American. The high schools represented in my study were all public.Most were located in Michigan, though some were in Chicago, Texas, and Tennessee. Having this range of demographics represented has allowed my study to be more objective, by introducing voices of various backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. Furthermore, my research shows that the variability of student experiences with the school-to-prison pipeline is extremely dependent on their race and/or ethnicity. Overall, predominately white schools showed less surveillance and police presence. This trend stood in stark contrast to my findings related to schools whose student bodies consisted primarily of students of color, which reported significantly higher rates of surveillance and police presence. The safety of students is another factor that plays a role in requiring police presence and surveillance. Events that influence safety in this study would be events that happened inside the school, such as a reported bomb threat, or violence in the area surrounding the school. Often, when participants who attended primarily white schools were asked what they knew about the school-to-prison pipeline, they were unsure about the meaning of the term and did not have anything to add. Contrary to these individuals, participants that went to predominantly black or Latinx schools had experienced significant levels of police and security present, and often had stories to tell regarding specific events they recalled. The term “school-to-prison pipeline” was more familiar to them and they knew the definition, which meant racism and inequalities in schools with students of color.
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