Four ways to break the school-to-prison pipeline

sinclair greyThe United Negro College Fund penned the words, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” Just reading or hearing the phrase should cause everyone to learn as much as possible.

Because the phrase resonates with that of education, it’s important to understand that the education of our children is the responsibility of all persons. Whatever your opinion is of school systems, administrators, and educators, all of us should participate in the education of our children and each other.

Be proactive
It’s sad when people spend so much time watching reality shows that they neglect empowering their minds. In a real sense, when foolishness is allowed to be manifested within households, nobody wins, especially our children.

I often hear people say, “Our children are the future,” and that is true in many ways. If we’re saying that, are we doing the best we can to make it happen? We cannot solely depend on the school system; we have to be proactive instead of reactive.

Sadly, many parents (not all) are so obsessed with materialism that they fail to challenge their children. It’s sad when many parents (not all) are absent in their children’s education. From the time of birth, parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children receive the best education possible.

It’s not about dressing them up and calling them cute. It isn’t about waiting for them to turn 18 years old so they can leave home. It’s about making sure the child is prepared mentally, emotionally, intellectually, culturally, socially, and spiritually to handle life’s challenges.

Caring about the future of our children isn’t up to the few. It’s up to the whole collective body to make a difference. Here are some suggestions that can be helpful.

•Actively participate in school. Whatever can be done, each parent should make it their mission to ensure that their child as well as their peers are in an environment that’s safe, secure, and concerned about their overall progress
•Attend parent/teacher conferences. Unless there is a dialogue between teacher and parent, one will not be able to understand a child’s strengths and weaknesses
•Make sure the members of the school board are informed and aware of any discrepancies your child may have with school personnel. Nothing can be done unless it’s brought to the attention of others.
•Formulate committees within schools and/or the community that holds everyone accountable for providing information that’s helpful to parents and students. When information is not shared, everyone loses.

Education is too important to neglect. When everyone comes together to close the educational gaps among races and ethnic groups, the school-to-prison pipeline closes.

In order to bankrupt the correctional system, let’s begin with making sure everyone receives the best education possible. This is something all of us can participate in.

Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, writer, author, life coach and radio/television talk show host.

Contact him at, or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey.


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