Schoolhouse to jailhouse

  1. Kevin Siers/ The Charlotte Observer
    3 days ago
  2. In an effort to make classrooms safer following the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, schools across the US adopted zero-tolerance discipline policies to regulate student behaviour. Designed to ensure consistent punishments for misbehaviour, the policy aims to deter disruption by threat of severe repercussions. Ideally, as a result of these procedures, students who want to learn will not have their education compromised by problematic peers.

    Despite these intentions, studies dispute the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies. Below, a graph describes the rise in out-of-school suspensions–particularly for African American students–in the wake of the policy shift.

  3. National Education Policy Center
    3 days ago
  4. To measure the implications of disciplinary techniques in the nation’s public schools, the Department of Education conducted a comprehensive survey, the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). It found that “black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled.”  The graph below uses the CRDC findings to show the disproportionate exposure to law enforcement between students of different races.
  5. Washington Post
    3 days ago
  6. Scholars, such as Dr. Russ Skiba, have also found white students are significantly more likely to be reprimanded for “objective” violations such as smoking or vandalism, whereas black students are punished at greater rates for “subjective” transgressions like disrespect and excessive noise. As the graph below illustrates, blacks are also susceptible to harsher punishments for the same minor offences as their white classmates.
  7. National Education Policy Center
    3 days ago
  8. A report by the National Education Policy Center claims “research on student behaviour, race, and discipline has found no evidence that African American over-representation in school suspension is due to higher rates of misbehaviour”.  For many inner-city students, minor offences are often dealt with by law enforcement officials, and zero-tolerance policies may mandate criminal charges for what some activists argue are instances of typical adolescent behaviour. The Advancement Project details the experiences of students caught in the “school-to-prison pipeline” below.
  9. Florida Students Caught in School-to-Prison Pipeline
    5 months ago
  10. Special needs students are also disproportionately affected by public school discipline policies throughout the country. The NYCLU estimates that “special education students represent 8.6% of public school students but 32% of youth in juvenile detention nationwide”.
  11. National Education Policy Center
    3 days ago
  12. Students who are removed from the classroom by suspensions and expulsions are significantly more likely to drop out of school, thus putting them at great risk of incarceration. The Justice Policy Institute suggests, “two-thirds to three-fourths of youth who were confined in a juvenile justice facility withdrew or dropped out within a year of re-enrolling” in school. Furthermore, “in California, by a 36 to 27 per cent ratio, young African American men without a high school diploma or its equivalent are more likely to be found languishing in prison than working a regular job”.
  13. Community Coalition
    3 days ago
  14. As local and federal government budgets shrink, communities rethink spending on schools. New York City employs “5,100 police personnel in schools, compared to approximately 3,000 guidance counselors and 1,500 social workers”.
  15. dianacolada
    Our priorities are wrong when we have more police than counselors in schools.Let’s try prevention not punishment.#SchooltoPrisonPipeline
  16. Across the nation, schools with police personnel “had nearly five times the rate of arrests for disorderly conduct”. As the graph below states, the public school education of a child is significantly more cost-effective than incarceration.
  17. American Leadership Forum
    3 days ago
  18. In a report chronicling the implications of increased security presence in schools, Michelle Fine and Jessica Ruglis argue, “Massive infusions of public funds are today targeting poor schools and communities and circling back to private and/or carceral interests”.

    While addressing the nation’s governors, Bill Gates asserted the need to increase achievement while limiting spending on schools. He used the graph below to show that although spending has increased in US schools, the results have largely stayed stagnant.

    3 days ago
  20. According to research, “Every dollar invested in quality early care and education saves taxpayers up to $13.00 USD in future costs”. Quality early childhood education can work well to respond to the disturbing trend that “Black kindergartner students are three times more likely to view themselves as scholastic failures when compared to their fellow White students”.
  21. Jason Killinger for Maskar Design
    3 days ago
  22. Despite the pervasiveness of zero-tolerance policies in public schools throughout the country, many schools have implemented reforms meant to supplant exclusionary discipline protocols with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The US state governments of Maryland and California hope to replicate the successful results of innovative districts such as one in Clayton County, Georgia that has seen an “87 per cent decrease in fights and a 20 per cent increase in graduation rates since 2004”. The video below documents the transformation of an alternative school in Walla Walla, WA.

Schoolhouse to jailhouse | The Stream – Al Jazeera English.

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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