News and Observer Ed blog has an article up quoting Wake County Board member, Jim Martin, on the alleged ‘school to prison pipeline’. The article cites the group “Education Justice Alliance” as taking exception to Martin’s comments.
Excerpt from N&O:
“Certain schools and districts deserve close scrutiny for their harmful practices,” Langberg and Fedders wrote. “Wake County retained its position as the leader in long-term suspensions. It had 10 percent of the state’s public school students but gave out 25 percent of its long-term suspensions.”
Martin came to the district’s defense on Facebook.
“I encourage everyone who cares about this issue to recognize there is not a school-to-prison pipeline,” Martin wrote. “There is a POVERTY-TO-PRISON pipeline. Schools are by no means perfect, but they probably do more to break the poverty-to-prison pipeline than any other organization. No, schools are not yet good enough to completely brake this pipeline. There is plenty more work we need to do. But if schools had a bit more help from the community breaking the cycle of poverty, we could all end any pipeline to prisons.”
For the uninitiated, the main thrust of the ‘school to prison pipeline’ campaign is that minority students are suspended more than white students because school discipline policies allegedly discriminate against minorities.
This perceived discrimination is based on the large number of suspensions or disciplinary cases that involve minority students. It’s a flawed correlation vs causation argument. Somehow, a set of policies is responsible for the actions of certain students?
There’s a punchline to Martin’s comments and the subsequent dismay by the Education Justice Alliance. He and the Wake School Board invited this ‘school to prison pipeline’ of attack in. Keep reading, you’ll see why.
Let’s start with the question: Who is the “Education Justice Alliance”?
EJA is one of the plaintiffs on a lawsuit against multiple sheriff departments with regard to allegations that Wake county schools policies and practices disproportionately discriminate and harm African-American students. This is arguably referring to the “school to prison pipeline”.
See the complaint filing.
The EJA website is registered through “NationBuilder” by Angeline Eschevarria of the left leaning group ‘immigrant and latino’ advocacy group, El Pueblo. El Pueblo is a partner of BlueprintNC and has worked with labor groups and the NC NAACP with great frequency.
EJA is affiliated with the “Youth Organizing Institute” (YOI) and “NC HEAT”.
Read more about NC HEAT and YOI and the groups that back them, such as labor unions.
EJA is a project run by a woman named Rukiya Dillahunt. She’s been featured in the N&O before proposing ‘equality solutions‘ for Wake County Schools.
She and her husband, Ajamu, are long-time activists and are members of a group called ‘Black Workers For Justice’:
“During one protest, veteran BWFJ member Rukiya Dillahunt was chided by a white participant for holding a sign saying “Stop the War on Black America.” The person felt it should say “and white Americans.”
“I put her in check,” said Dillahunt, “by laying out the high Black unemployment rates, mass incarceration, and the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ we face.”
– Labor Notes.org 9/23/13 by Ajamu Dillahunt
Dillahunt’s husband is employed by the NC Justice Center, which is also one of the groups listed in the lawsuit I first mentioned. NC Justice Center started and helps run the non-profit group BlueprintNC. You may recall that a leaked memo revealed the mission of Blueprint and its partners to “eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate” Republican leaders in North Carolina.
The Dillahunts have been influencing the Wake County School Board for some time now. They are also involved in the group “Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children” which advocated to the Wake School Board to drop zeroes from minority student grades because that action is ‘too punitive‘.