What Do You Know About Education

Classroom Life Skills and Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline

The school discipline programs are taking a wrong direction regardless of a drop in juvenile crime rates. According to the Education Department for Civil Rights, disciplinary suspensions and expulsions have escalated since 2000. The out-of-school suspensions affect black students more than the white students, and many of the expelled students either drop out school or perform poorly after getting back to school.

The youth advocates have raised concerns based on those reports, which attracted attention of prominent politicians including the Obama administration at the time. It was found that many schools are expelling or suspending students too often, and therefore the need to formulate alternative discipline policies. Since Juvenile detention and school discipline policies were similar, the youth advocates named the situation as “school to prison pipeline”.

Since older students are likely to cause trouble in school, they were funneled into the criminal justice system. Some of the common crimes committed in schools include fight, drug abuse, and personal injuries. Some of the people forcing disruptive students into criminal justice system include school administrators. Arresting of students in school occurred many times where they were put into detention centers.
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However, keeping students out of school was not a common thing in the 1970s. However, the increase in violence and crime in schools has led to adoption of suspensions as a punishment. For instance, bringing a weapon in school was a one year punishable crime. Once many states adopted the zero-tolerance policies, the cases of expulsions and suspensions increased, especially for the black and Hispanic students.
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However, many school administrations misinterpreted the policy of punishing students who bring weapons in school. Even when youngsters displayed their hands like guns, many schools take it too broadly such that the students are expelled or suspended. Apart from the serious crimes that could warrant a suspension, many schools adopted their own zero-tolerance policies to discourage other more serious crimes. Simple mistakes such as missing a class or being disruptive are offenses that deserve expulsion or suspension.

After a while, administrators started relying on state police officers in the form of school resource officers (SRO), who are stationed in various schools. The police officers were not to offer the professional policing services, but to protect students from mass shooting like the one that occurred at Columbine High School. This has caused misuse of police mandates. Almost hundred thousand students were arrested and detained.

Many arrests of students and prosecutions led to blackmailing of many youngsters. This means a second offense will be harsher, regardless of the first punishment. Obama administration opened legal investigations into the school discipline policies, and schools urged to establish new policies. Therefore, expulsion and suspension was to become a last resort punishment.

Nowadays, various schools have established drug abuse prevention programs. These programs focus on enhancing relationship among students, teachers, and administrators. Therefore, students that cause trouble in school can get guidance from teachers rather than being arrested by the school resource officers (SRO).