Urban Mosaic Center

for Social Justice




Are we preparing Prisoners or Presidents in our schools and special education classrooms?  How can we position young brown boys and girls to defeat the odds and attain Educational Success?  How can we train and support trauma sensitive teachers that understand inner-city urban dynamics?


Research shows that urban centers and rural villages have become repositories for populations of black and brown boys who have a higher probability of walking the corridors of prison than the halls of a university.  Why are black and brown boys failing at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group?


Students of Color face harsher discipline and are more likely to be pushed out of school than whites.

Youth of color are more likely than whites to be placed in the foster care system, a breeding ground for the criminal justice system.




  • 1 out of every 3 black/brown males arrested have had a disability, ranging from emotional disability to learning disabilities. (Dyslexia, ADHD)

  • Students with emotional disabilities are three times (3x) more likely to be arrested before leaving school than individuals who do not have such diagnosis.

  • According to 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics, the vast majority of adults in American prisons have a learning disability.

  • Prison populations have grown 700 percent since 1970 – due to in part to ineffective education of children with special needs.

  • 40% of students expelled from U.S. schools each year are black.

  • 70% of students involved in “in-school” arrests or referred to law enforcement are Black or Latino.

  • Black and Latino students are twice as likely to not graduate high school as whites.

  • 50% of children in the foster care system are Black or Latino.

  • 68% of all males in state and federal prison do not have a high school diploma.

  • 50% of young people leaving foster care will be unemployed within a few years of turning 18.

  • 70% of inmates in California state prisons are former foster care youth.


A 2007 study by the Advancement Project and the Power U Center for Social Change reports that the U.S. spends almost $70 billion annually on incarceration, probation and parole. This number lends itself to a 127% funding increase for incarceration between 1987-2007. Compare that to a 21% increase in funding for higher education in the same 20-year span.


New Orleans, LA has numbers equally as staggering. The Orleans Parish School Board’s expulsions under zero tolerance policies were 100% Black, with 67% of their school-related arrests being Black students. The RSD-Algiers Charter School Association document that 75% of their expelled students without educational services were black. Furthermore, 100% of their expulsions under zero tolerance policies and 100% of their school-related arrests were all Black students.


“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunities of an education.  Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right that must be made available on equal terms.”

–  Chief Justice Earl Warren, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)