Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline: It’s real and we know where it starts.+Share
As parents, we tell our kids that they can be anything they want, as long as they work hard. As a kid, I believed it literally and was fortunate enough to enjoy an atmosphere in which I could live into that vision.
But is this motivational speech true for all Texas school children? Can every child become anything they want just by working hard?
Stand for Children recently conducted research that suggests that not all kids enjoy an equal shot at this apple. Based on our research, we’re convinced that the cradle-to-prison pipeline is real, and worse yet, we know where it starts.
We took a look at the zip codes of incarcerated people in Texas prisons. It became immediately obvious that a small number of zip codes send a lot more inmates to prison than neighboring zip codes, including ones of similar demographic makeup. Just ten Dallas zip codes have sent more than 3,100 prisoners into Texas prisons, at an annual cost to the state of $137 million.
Then we examined data from the Texas Education Agency, and saw that these same zip codes were the site of some of the lowest college-ready graduation rates in Texas. In these zip codes, of 3,000 freshmen who began high school together in 2007, only 26 graduated college ready in 2011.
That’s less than 1% of entering freshmen who graduated college-ready after their four years.
Because these zip codes are also some of the most economically depressed, no single factor will reverse these trends. No educator, administrator, or trustee can stand alone to interrupt the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Solving this issue requires a collective effort on all fronts, including the urgent need to direct additional resources to these schools and neighborhoods, while concurrently rebuilding the leadership and teaching capacity within these ten high schools and the elementary and middle schools that feed them.
And while a few legislators are pleading scarcity as the reason to under-fund Texas schools, it is important to remember that it costs less than $10,000 per year to educate a kid. But it costs $44,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate. There is the return on investment for a dollar spent on education!
But the primary importance of this is not a budget debate. More important is the tragic systematic wasting of so many children’s lives. A kid doesn’t decide what zip code to be born into. And yet the zip code is making a lot of decisions for the kid.
For updates regarding the Cradle to Prison pipeline, please email firstname.lastname@example.org