Panel discusses school-to-prison pipeline

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A panel of nine people discussed the school-to-prison pipeline Wednesday night at Horry Georgetown Technical College's Burroughs and Chapin Auditorium.

The school-to-prison pipeline is the idea that kids who grew up in disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to end up in prison partially because of the way schools handle discipline.

Almost everyone on the panel agreed there's a problem. The question was how to fix it.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said schools aren't as much to blame for the incarceration rates as the way kids are raised. He believes mentoring is important to help kids make the right decisions and stay out of trouble.

Horry County School Board Chair Joe DeFeo said he wishes the American school system was treated more like Finland's school system.

"The only thing they do until they're 7 years old 95 percent of the time is teach relationships," DeFeo said. "How to treat other people, how to respect other people, how to act with other people. There is no homework given until you're in the 9th grade, because they want you to go home and communicate and have relationships with other people."

DeFeo says the problem with switching to a system like that is American politicians have such a huge say as to what goes on in local classrooms.

"Ever since the department of education was formed, we have rammed and rammed teaching to the tests and junk, and it is not as important as relationships," DeFeo said.

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