45 comments
NevilleRoss
NevilleRoss

This happened to me in the 1980s in Canada, well before the zero-tolerance laws were adapted (I was 'dropped out' of the school system after spending two semesters in a private school that was later found out to be a fraud, and then was not allowed back in for the remainder of the time I was 17, not being able to graduate from high school and ending up in programs for people with mental illness which has persisted to the present day).

I frankly think that school itself is overrated as a construct and is only good for the first few years of life (beyond learning your ABC's and 1-2-3's, it's useless.) I'd like to see it replaced by another system, or by kids educating themselves ala the Teenage Liberation Handbook, but until such a set of changes happens, we're stuck with what we've got.

What we need to do is get rid of these laws and go back to what we had before (we also need better news media so that laws like these don't get passed due to excessive coverage of events like Columbine, but that's for another time.) We also need better funding across the board for education in North America generally, and we also need to deal better with children that have disabilities who are in the system.

Vikki
Vikki

thank you for this thoughtful post. police are increasingly being called in to resolve matters that used to be handled (or dismissed) by school staff. while i was on tour, i learned about the proposterous arrest of a student for allegedly stealing chicken nuggets from the cafeteria (a friend, who receives free school lunch, gave him his chicken nuggets. a cafeteria worker called the school's resource officer (part of the city's police department)on him. the officer called in a 2nd police squad. all over chicken nuggets!). charges were dropped, but only after his sister and other advocates organized community protests around not only his arrest and charges against him, but the increasing policing and criminalization of students (particularly students of color): http://www.wisn.com/r/24317843/detail.html

 

However, what happens to the hundreds/thousands of kids who are criminalized who don't have people in their lives who know their rights and know how to organize? (Not to detract from the fact that Hernandez's sister and others in the community managed to ensure that he didn't end up in the prison pipeline over a couple of chicken nuggets)

 

I would be interested in follow-up conversations about what students, families and youth advocates are doing to fight this pipeline.

 

for a world without cages,

vikki

 

p.s. apologies for the lack of caps. i fractured my shoulder and so typing is a bit of a chore. but i didn't want to stay out of the discussion altogether!

http://www.wisn.com/r/24317843/detail.html

Panyia
Panyia

Being  watched at from many angles at school seems like prison already.  Don't you think this is one of the reason why there are so many students who are not interested in becoming educated?  Education with the criminal justice system has not made minorities, student of colors, improve grades or do better in school but rather has made education more of a burden then it should already be. 

Heather Ellis
Heather Ellis

The thing that i feel is over looked by the law makers  is that the system is the thing that is broken, not the children that they are forcing out of the schools. The zero tolerance policies have a potential to help keep schools safe, but not when they are used to discriminate against students of color.

-Heather

PatriciaLevesque
PatriciaLevesque

The amazing disconnect here, in my view, is that the government is increasingly willing to admit that the problem exists, yet continues to throw money at "solutions" that do not work.  How many armed police officers in school do they think will solve the issue?

MK
MK

Nancy, excellent as usual.  This is an area that I have great concern about especially here in Chicago.  We just released a study about policing in Chicago Public Schools to expose how many school-based arrests are happening.  I agree with you that the school to prison pipeline cannot be addressed however without a general focus on the carceral state.  I also wonder whether we are not better off using the term cradle to prison pipeline to focus on the fact that there is a disinvestment that occurs in the lives of children from the start....  This is a great piece and I have tweeted and shared it.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

For over a dozen years, the research has been telling us about the racist impacts of so-called "Zero Tolerance."  And we know so much about how the school to prison pipeline functions and expands.  So many interrelated factors/injustices combine to produce mass incarceration of the young, particularly youth of color who are low income.

 

Slavery by another name...

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

it is clearer to me -- even more so today - that the school to prison pipeline cannot be addressed all by itself..

 

we must confront the PIC, which the pipeline exists to service

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

sorry to hear about your shoulder vikki :)

 

but great to see you..

 

yes the excesses are stunning

 

 

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

Ouch, Vikki - you fractured your shoulder?  Sending healing energy//vibes your way. 

 

Well said - the increasing use of police to resolve matters typically handled or dismissed by school staff. 

 

I think most people don't know their rights and how to organize resistance to this police state in the schools phenomenon.

 

Let's keep this discussion going.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

 @Panyia Yes, the constant Gaze of police authority has got to have multiple impacts, both short and long term. 

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

 @Heather Ellis So right about the system being broken.

 

I respectfully would disagree with you that zero tolerance policies have the potential to keep schools safe.  I don't think "get tough" ever really addresses the root problems of justice and safety because structural racism, class bias, and gender inequality are embedded in the very structures that not only frame but enforce the laws.  This happens both consciousl and (often) unconscious ways. 

 

I'd love for our society to think more imaginatively about how to nurture just relationships and nonviolence in schools and other basic social institutions.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

 @Heather Ellis hi heather

 

the zero tolerance policies were taken to far extremes -- the intention of the GFSA was not bad but as i hear today kids being charged for toe-nail clippers is beyond the pale

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

Yes, MK, you are so right - a disinvestment in the lives of children, especially children of color, from the start.   Children's Defense Fund uses "cradle to prison pipeline," and I think that is accurate.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

thank you MK!

 

and yes i agree -- cradle to prison comes closer to capturing the magnitude of the problem

 

Much gratitude as always for everything you do

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

 @Robinswing Isn't SistahSpeak appearing in a new incarnation on its own blog soon, Robinswing?

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

 @KayWhitlock yes -- including the ugly impact on a growing number of children with incarcerated parents

 

Never -ending troubl3

Heather Ellis
Heather Ellis

 @nancy a heitzeg Yes I have even heard of one student being expelled for having a box cutter sitting in his car. The box cutter did not even belong to him and was left in his car when his mother borrowed it  the night before. 

 

I completely agree that the polices are taken too far and need to be reavaluated in how they are are being carried out.

PatriciaLevesque
PatriciaLevesque

 @nancy a heitzeg You know I'd agree to that!!  But I would be happy to see a quarter of the money they spend on police on some school programs.  Mentoring, tutoring, bring back music and athletics (outside of the money makers like football and basketball).  How do you get the community to get involved?

 

MK
MK

 @KayWhitlock Hi Kay, hope you are doing well this evening. Yes I agree that CDF's coining of that term helps us in theorizing this phenomenon.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

 @KayWhitlock thanks for  that Kay

 

the resegrgeation of schools is a major piece of this

 

btw there was a SRO there today ho claimed that police in school improved police - community relations and increased the positive view of police aming children

 

What BS!!

PatriciaLevesque
PatriciaLevesque

 @nancy a heitzeg It''s a similar issue to the fundamental problem with zero tolerance, in an effort to limit the risk of some they deny all.

 

Does that make sense?  It did in my head... 

Heather Ellis
Heather Ellis

 @nancy a heitzeg  @PatriciaLevesque I think it is our job as citizens and members of the community to step up and make sure OUR tax dollars are going to the things that are important to us, such as having mentoring programs,tutoring etc. If we don't hold the law makes accountable by voting, and voicing our opinions then they will do what ever they feel like based on their own interests.

 

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

 @PatriciaLevesque Communities are often trying to be involved -- lots of evidence of that today -- but are blocked out

 

How do you get Law makers to re-think ther short-sighted policies? That s the real challenge

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

Doing very well, thanks, MK.  And you?  (Besides being way too busy.)

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg

 @KayWhitlock and NCLB has added another dimension of stress to already under-resourced schools

 

Who the hell would even want to turn up at school with police patroling the halllways??

 

Not me

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock

 @nancy a heitzeg Hooray for adding armed police to schools with zero tolerance policies while multicultural education and the arts are gutted, class size increases, and neighborhood schools are closed.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Joquan Wallace is in line for sports scholarships in numerous colleges if he can avoid jail time after his recent trip to the school bathroom. Now there is a Change.org petition  issued by Brenda Cherry to drop felony charges against Joquan, allow him to graduate with his sister at Paris High, and “stop the school to prison pipeline” which has been been well-documented in Texas, and across the nation. […]

  2. […] critique of zero tolerance policies, the criminalization of education, and the creation of a school to prison pipeline. The Departments jointly issued extensive new guidelines urging schools to abandon zero tolerance […]

  3. […] Of course, the conflation of crime and poverty has also been predicated on a conflation of race with both poverty and crime.  In particular, Black Women have been constructed as the archetypical welfare recipient, a long standing stereotype embodied in contemporary times in Ronald Reagan’s mythical “Welfare Queen”.  Gendered racism then underlies much of the current effort to criminalize poverty, which reflects a pattern that can be seen child welfare/foster care systems as well in the criminalization of education via the school to prison pipeline. […]