Giving Compass' Take:

• Christopher Evans discusses the "windows and mirrors" educational approach to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline which ensures that young Black boys feel supported by their teachers. 

• With support from trusted adults, these young men have become positive ambassadors in their schools. How can philanthropy support mentorship?

• Read more about how other schools are breaking the school-to-prison pipeline.

The connection I’m building with my students starts every day with a box of Cocoa Puffs. Name-brand cereal may not sound all that special, but it’s something most of my students can’t afford. It’s something I remember longing for when I was a kid.

Even though our school serves breakfast in the classroom to all students, I bring a group of boys from our K-4 school together for a special breakfast to fuel their day with a dose of self-esteem.  We eat and we talk, and they get to start their day knowing someone at school understands and cares.

A year ago, these boys were on their ways to entering our country’s devastating school-to-prison pipeline. They were routinely disrupting their classrooms and commanding disproportionate amounts of attention from school leaders. All of them are black. Most lack a consistent father figure in their lives. Now, they’re part of a brotherhood where they push themselves and one another to be great. We call our group “The Movement.”

One in every 11 young black men is incarcerated in our country — a path that starts in our public schools, where black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, which vastly increases their chances of entering the juvenile justice system.

Our school is now a safe place where these boys can let down their guard and open their minds.

Their academic performance is improving as a result. And so has the performance of students across our school, now that our classroom “disruptors” have become positive ambassadors for our school culture and community.

Read the full article about dismantling school-to-prison pipelines for Black boys by Christopher Evans at The Hechinger Report.