Did you know that suspending a student once increases their chances of dropping out by three fold?
That's just the tip of the iceberg of what many call the school-to-prison pipeline. A term that is not at all exaggerated. There's actually a industry-generated demand for prisoners to occupy our so-called justice system. According to a report from In The Public Interest, shows "private prison companies mandate high inmate occupancy rates through their contracts with states – in some cases, up to 100 percent."
In June, the Every Student Every Day Coalition released “District Discipline: The Overuse of Suspension and Expulsion in the District of Columbia,” that showed that 13% of students were suspended from school at least one time.
Malik Thompson, an 18 year old senior who is now home schooled said, "The rampant suspensions and expulsions students in the DC Public School system face has left many of my peers skeptical about school's role as a safe place to learn and grow. To go along with the harsh discipline policies, metal detectors and police officers have our schools resembling miniature prisons. Many people don't even bother to show up anymore."
In response to this inequality, Malik and other youth colleagues have taken up the camera to draw attention and pressure for change. They are part of DC's Critical Exposure, a nonprofit that teaches youth to use the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for school reform and social change.
"Critical Exposure places the power, literally and figuratively, in our hands by opening our eyes to the universal power of photographs. Once people are exposed to our realities through our photos we've grabbed their attention, which is vital to the transformation of our educational communities."
Thursday Oct 17 2013 Critical Exposure's fundraising and educational event:
Get your tickets now to Critical Exposure's most high profile event of the year -- Picture Equality: An Evening of Empowerment through Photography. Enjoy appetizers and wine while exploring the work of some of the world's top photographers, including our students. At the end of the night you'll be able to leave with your favorite photos in hand.
All money raised at this live and silent auction will be used to support our photography and advocacy programs. Last year's auction raised $32,000, which enabled students to advocate for and win additional staff in their schools, change their curriculum to include an ethic studies class, convince the State Board of Education to change their graduation requirements, and more.
This article was composed in collaboration with Malik Thompson.