Research & Data

Suspension Stories — Challenging the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track
Project NIA has partnered with the Rogers Park Young Women's Action Team to collect stories about students' experiences of being suspended and/or expelled from school in Chicago. Over the past few years, some of YWAT's members complained about the harsh discipline policies that existed at their schools. Members were concerned about youth in their community and how they are being "pushed out" of school because of the zero tolerance policies that many schools have. They believed that there was a need for youth voice to "talk back" to the educational system and to show how these policies were actually harming children.

This youth-led participatory action research project incorporates community surveys, storytelling, and art. It culminated in the creation of a website called "Suspension Stories" which was launched in February 2011. The site has become an important resource for those who are interested in learning about the impact and effects of the school-to-prison pipeline.

The project's goals are to:

  • Develop and administer a survey about suspensions, expulsions, and the schoolhouse to jailhouse track to students across Chicago.
  • Collect and circulate many stories from different youth in Chicago about suspensions, expulsions, and the schoolhouse to jailhouse track.
  • Learn from the surveys and the stories about what can be done to decrease suspensions and expulsions.
  • Solicit and create art (visual and writing) that illustrates the connections between schools and jails and compile all of our information to create an interactive website.
  • Increase our collective ability as youth to challenge the schoolhouse to jailhouse track in Rogers Park.
For more information about Project NIA:

Mariame Kaba