Fellows Screen "Book 'Em: Undereducated, Overincarcerated" in Akron

On April 17th OSA fellows at Akron University hosted a documentary screening to open a deep conversation about the School To Prison Pipeline and brainstorm for solutions to change educational policy in our Urban Schools in Akron, and across the nation.

The film "Book ‘em: Undereducated, Overincarcerated” looks at how students are pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system in Connecticut, where Zero Tolerance Policies play a negative effect on the school district of New Haven. The Youth Rights Media group collected stories of students impacted by the disciplinary policies that criminalize children and district data that details huge racial disparities of school suspension. Punishment for misbehavior that would have warranted detention or a discussion with the teachers before, currently landing students with a 10-day suspension or even expulsion. Children who face these punishments are put onto a path to an alternative school. This school, located just a couple blocks away from the Jail and the Juvenile Court, hosts kids that are absent or suspended for multiple days, students with disabilities that administrators believe conflict with other students learning, and students on parole.  If a student in the alternative school makes a mistake, they are sent deeper into the juvenile system, where courts can chose to incarcerate these children. Having a record creates countless collateral punishments, in some states barring their right to vote, create barriers to finding a job, and further ostracizes them from society.

After discussing how attendees have seen and experienced how very real the School to Prison Pipeline is in communities around the University of Akron, the film the group created some possible solutions.

1. New policy- Instead of the Zero Tolerance Policy. We should create a way to discipline the students. Examples; Mandatory community service, more in school suspensions instead of out of school suspensions, Abolish the criminalizing way to document and enforce the school discipline.

2. In school programs- We could add mandatory elective programs that build skills for the students to help them in life unrelated to academics. Some examples are;

  • Love/Relationship skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • Self Defeating Prevention Skills
  • Community Communication Skills
  • Organizing Skills
  • Open Student Group Topic discussions about the issues that age group deals with.
  • Classes that help you deal with Life (Decision Making, Creation, and Cause and Effect)

In Columbus, OSA supporters from around the state will join with allies on May 16th for a rally to end zero tolerance policies in Ohio. In Akron, we will be conducting a Public Community Meeting to address out local issues at 2nd Baptist Church on Main St. and Thornton Ave on May 20th.

If interested please contact us:

Brandon Peterson

Marcelous Smith