Advocates push for more Metro school funding to stop prison pipeline

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Ahead of Mayor John Cooper’s budget release on Thursday, a group advocated for him to fully fund Metro Nashville Public Schools’ social and emotional learning resources.

Nashville Organized for Action and Hope says SEL programs in schools will help to end the prison pipeline.

“We have found, and statistics have shown over many years that students who are suspended and expelled from school have a higher propensity for interaction with the juvenile justice system,” Dawana Wade said.

NOAH said SEL resources are historically put into the proposed budget but are later taken out. Wade said it’s vital that the full $7.8 million is funded.

“Five-point-eight of that will support all elementary schools with an advocacy center and a staff person for that advocacy center in the school building,” Wade said.

The other two million would go toward middle and high school centers.

The threat of a prison pipeline is something Kosar Kosar’s family knows all too well. Kosar’s brother is still incarcerated after a long history of disciplinary actions in school.

“I think it was eighth grade that he was first sent to juvy once. But in terms of the suspensions and being sent to alternative schools I think he was suspended as early as elementary school,” Kosar said.

Kosar wonders if things could have been different had those programs been available to his brother.

“If he had those, I don’t think that he’d be in the place that he is now. And many students here in MNPS have walked a similar path, similar to like my brother,” Kosar said.

A spokesperson for MNPS said Dr. Battle has been committed to implementing restorative justice practices and has submitted for several SEL investment strategies in her proposed budget.

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