For "Hood Week," School to Prisons Pipeline 2012

By Sekou Odinga



I'm writing this in support of your effort to try to understand and hopefully, do something about the problem of schools not doing enough to prevent our young Black men from going to prison.
Is it an accident that so many prisons have been built in the last 30 or 40 years? Or that so many young Black men are in them? I don't think so. It costs a lot more to imprison people than to educate them. It costs about $35 or $40,000 a year to keep someone in prison, but you can send someone to a good school for $15 or $20,000.

Instead of schools/teachers nurturing our children's desire to learn, too many times, they turn them off. I don't think most teachers want or mean for that to happen, but I think most of them know it is probably going to happen, and don't do enough to prevent it. Most probably, they don't know what they can do to prevent it, and even if they did know, the system is organized in such a way that is almost impossible to prevent it. Teachers are taught they must control their classroom and to most, that means children must sit still and keep quiet, but it goes against most children's nature to sit still for an hour or two at a time. And so, too often, the teacher is constantly telling the child to keep quiet, sit still, shut up, go sit in the corner or go to the principal's office; all of which turns the student against the teacher and thus, school. And so by the time they are old enough to quite school, they can hardly wait. Of course, these young men (which they usually are) don't have enough education or other qualifications to make a decent living, so they turn to some illegal activity to survive. This will usually lead them to getting busted and ending up in prison. I have been told that 50% or more of young Black males quit before finishing high school.

So I am glad to support this effort to understand the connection from schools to prisons. Hopefully, it will lead to some positive ideas and plans to deal with the problem. We cannot keep losing so many of our young men to the streets and prisons, if we are to survive racist america, and become a free, independent and prosperous people.

Free the Land!
Sekou Abdullah Odinga