Active Listening is a series that unites composers with audiences who care about social justice. The goal of this series is to inspire empathy, educate listeners, and offer steps to actively support each cause. Each composer has chosen to address a social justice issue they feel passionate about, and with each installment, actions which listeners can take are provided. A new installment of this 10-part performance video and interview series will be released on the first Wednesday of each month through September 2019, featuring works commissioned and performed by pianist Lior Willinger. This project has been funded by an award from the Presser Foundation.
The third installment of Active Listening confronts the harsh reality faced by young people growing up in disadvantaged situations. Pipeline (SPP) takes a hard look at the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the distressing nationwide tendency in which the public school system fails to support its students and instead funnels them into the juvenile and criminal justice system.
Pipeline (SPP) by Wendel Patrick
Underfunded schools can severely lack the proper educational resources needed to set up students for success. In some cases, dropping underperforming students even gets incentivized in order to raise a school’s overall test scores. Unfair zero-tolerance disciplinary policies result in students getting criminalized for minor infractions of school policies. Instead of addressing behavior inside the school, students enter the criminal justice system from an early age. Those most vulnerable to entering the pipeline are students dealing with learning disabilities, poverty, abuse, or neglect. Disproportionately, young people of color are affected.
In the video below, Wendel Patrick talks about his experience as a visiting teaching artist in Baltimore City public schools for the last twenty years. What he’s witnessed has amounted to an unacceptable betrayal of our country’s youth.
So what can we do?
Wendel offers the following:
- Please strongly consider volunteering in an underfunded city school. The system needs help, and your time and talents can make a difference in the trajectory of a student’s life.
- Go check out your local volunteer mentoring opportunities or contact a school administrator directly to discuss how your particular skill set might make an impact. In certain cities like Baltimore, the city itself can connect you directly to at-risk youth in need of your help. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Reading Partners likely have a local chapter in your area.
- The recording of Pipeline (SPP) is available for download on Bandcamp. All proceeds from the sale of this track will go to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Just a fraction of your time can change the world for a young person.