Education Behind Bars: How Education is Failing Incarcerated Youth
Date:  06-07-2018

Brown Political Review: Only 13 states provide the same educational services in juvenile detention centers as they do outside them
From Brown Political Review:

Nowhere are the failures of public education and the American criminal justice system more apparent than in the daily lives of incarcerated minors in the United States. Every day, about 60,000 youth wake up behind bars. The majority have been suspended or expelled from their community’s schools and have fallen behind several grade levels. One in three will need specialized education services while they are incarcerated. Young people of color suffer most in this system: Black youth are five times as likely to be incarcerated as their white peers, and Latino and Native American youth are two to three times as likely.

Unfortunately, the United States has failed to provide incarcerated youth with the bare minimum needed to meet state standards for public education, let alone with the resources required to meet any specialized needs. In fact, only 13 states provide the same educational services in juvenile detention centers as they do outside them. Classes are typically much larger in these facilities than in public schools, are likely to be organized by age rather than ability, and have curricula that are far less rigorous than those of community schools. When placed in solitary confinement, youth often receive little to no schoolwork at all. In one striking example from Los Angeles County, a student was found to have graduated with a high school diploma from the Challenger Memorial Youth Center without ever being taught to read.

In order to address the inequalities experienced by incarcerated learners, a formal method of transparency must be developed and rigorously implemented to ensure that public and private facilities are complying with states’ public school standards. Measures should be taken to address the specialized needs of incarcerated youth, and states should make it easier for incarcerated youth to re-enter community schools. Continue reading >>>