Current Connection #4

In the reading for this week, we had the reading “ The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Critical Review of the Punitive Paradigm Shift” by Christopher Mallett. The reading talked about the prison-to-pipeline system. In the reading  Mallett talks about how no two schools are exactly alike (nor are juvenile courts), and their anti-violence policies thus differentiate accordingly. Disciplinary implementation, enforcement procedures, and utilization are different according to school size, location, and demographic makeup. He also talks about the environment that schools are creating and how it’s creating an environment of social control and fear that is more prison-like in efforts to maintain safety. Mallett also talks about the criminalization of Education and he brings up Subsequent amendments to the Gun-Free Schools Act and state laws have broadened the focus from firearms to other types of weapons and as well as non-weapon possession problems, use of alcohol/drugs and tobacco, fighting, and disobedience of school rules. One of the other things that comes along with this is that policy makers, practitioners, and involved parties do not set forth to harm children or adolescents either in school or juvenile justice settings. 

But thinking back to schools, there are not going to be two schools that are going to be the same. Since that the anti-violence policies are not going to be the same. Disciplinary implementation, enforcement procedures, and utilization are different according to school size, location, and demographic makeup.  Mallett also talks about how anti-violence policies are practiced more frequently both in the southern and western states, in schools with higher minority student populations, and in schools with higher enrollments in free or reduced price lunch programs and these are the schools characteristics are often inter-related. 

Mallett also talks about where Zero Tolerance Policies came from. And ‘‘zero tolerance’’ was nationally recognized and used during the Reagan Administration’s war on drugs in the mid-1980s, encapsulating both a violent drug trade occurring across many U.S. cities. In 1986, the war on drugs s initiative and policy focus was imported to the public. And so the Drug Free Schools Act, a strict prohibition against drugs or alcohol possession went into effect. 

For my current connection for this week I did the reading, “Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline” by The Editors of Rethinking Schools. The reading starts off with a story about Robert who is an 11-year-old boy who accidentally  brought a pocket knife to school, and it fell out of his pocket during gym, and they sent him to the office and then within minutes he was taken into custody and was sent to a disciplinary school. Which in no way is the right thing to do in that situation. When it comes to how to handle the situation, the main thing that I would have done was talk it through with the student. The next topic that the reading talked about was Mass Incarceration, and in this section it explains the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline is part of a larger crisis. Since 1970, the U.S. prison population has exploded from about 325,000 people to more than 2 million today. And then the effects after people come out of jail. Once released, former prisoners are caught in a web of laws and regulations that make it difficult or impossible to secure jobs, education, housing, and public assistance.

The Editors of Rethinking Schools also talked about their curriculum that they have dont on the past and how Social justice educators have developed strong class activities teaching the Civil Rights Movement. But few of them teach regularly about the racial realities of the current criminal justice system. And how textbooks just completely ignore the topic. Mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline are among the primary forms that racial oppression currently takes in the United States. When talking about the movement to make change happen the movement to end the school-to-prison pipeline and the movement to defend and transform public education are too often separate. This must be one movement. that encompasses both an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the fight to save and transform public education. ANd as educators, we cannot build safe, creative, nurturing schools and criminalize our children at the same time. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators have begun to fight back against zero tolerance policies. WE need to start pushing to get rid of zero tolerance laws, and creating alternative approaches to safe school communities that rely on restorative justice and community building instead of criminalization. ANd during this time it is important that we get feedback from the youth, The Youth provide leadership in these movements in ways that are different from what we often see in classrooms.

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