Earlier this year, I stood in the exact spot where Rosa Parks stepped on that now famous bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She refused to give up her seat and sparked a movement that continues today. While we’ve made progress, there is still more work to do to ensure every single person has a fair shot — especially in our public schools.
We know students need to be in school in order to learn, yet the quality of education many students receive is determined by the zip code they live in. We know teachers must have the tools and resources they need to succeed, but often classrooms sizes and funding is determined by zip code, too.
Add to that the reality that suspension rates, more than poverty, are the number one predictor of whether a child will drop out of school, putting them almost inevitably on the road to incarceration and unemployment.
If we actively support our students and propel them into a successful profession, this would also lower Arizona’s unacceptable percentage of incarcerated people as a whole. It’s an interwoven cycle; criminal justice and education go hand-in-hand. Prevention is key and it starts with us.
Criminal justice policy is education policy, and we need to start seeing it that way. We must use proven strategies to keep our students in school and to give our teachers the tools they need to be successful the classroom.