THEME: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Re-imagining Policies, Practices, and Politics in Education Systems

The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to the disturbing national trend in which children are funneled out of public schools and into juvenile and criminal justice systems. Supporting this system are numerous policies and practices. For instance, the proliferation of “zero-tolerance” school policies in 1980s and 1990s, complete with drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors, has responded to children’s behavior with suspensions, expulsions, and arrests instead of restorative justice approaches. Many PreK-12 public schools across the country deploy law enforcement agents on school campuses in growing numbers. In fact, public school teachers and students report an increase of armed police officers stationed on school grounds. This insidious, systemic, and institutional machine predominately affects racially minoritized students, particularly Black students, but also special education students, English language learners, low-income students, and those who live at the intersections of these realities. In order to pursue efforts toward a just and equitable education for ALL, institutions must affirm the humanity of their most vulnerable students and their right to education. This work requires exposing the policies, practices, and contexts that seek to pathologize and criminalize minoritized students. Additionally, it is essential that we discuss the kinds of integrative and collective strategies that not only disrupt but dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.


The annual Center for Urban Education Summer Educator Forum (CUESEF) is a professional learning experience for education professionals (pre-service and practicing educators), community advocates, and justice thinkers. CUESEF draws from a local, regional, and national audience of primarily education practitioners (teachers, principals, district leadership), though many participants are members of community organizations (including not-for-profits and faith-based organizations).

The theme for the 2019 forum is Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Re-imagining Policies, Practices, and Politics in Education Systems. During this conference, participants will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the topic through keynote speakers (featuring Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: The Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) as well as a series of research panels and practitioner workshops.

CUESEF 2019 will take place from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 20. Events will be held at the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall and next door at the Wyndham Hotel.


Most sessions will be scheduled for 90 minutes over the course of the two-day forum.

  • Discussion Panels – Discussion panels are about research and scholarship, endeavoring to reflect the best of what we know about the topic. CUESEF organizers will group 3 or 4 presenters into sessions based on proposal topics. Much like a paper session, each panelist will present for 12-15 minutes, and a substantial portion of time will be allocated to a Q&A period to promote engagement.
  • Practical Application Workshops – Presenters will conduct these hands-on workshops around teaching strategies for PreK-12 educators.
  • Community Conversations – Presenters will introduce local organizing/programming projects for education and justice advocates, then facilitate a dialogue about possibilities for collaboration and coalition building across organizations and standpoints.