I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Home to Prison Pipeline, Part II

When a school bus driver is trying to do his job and get students to line up in an orderly fashion, and parents storm the bus, terrifying students on the bus, and begin to beat the driver--is this horrific behavior the school's fault?  Look at this story from Palm Beach County Yesterday.  The example set by parents here, in front of elementary school students, I mean who can calculate the damage this does and the terrible example this sets for their own kids?

We know many students of all ethnicities live in dysfunctional environments, and this condition manifests itself sometimes into behaviors like this from two students in Panama City who have been arrested and will be charged.  Is the school responsible for this-or is the allowing of this behavior another example of the home to prison pipeline?

Or what about this riot from Akron Ohio.  School officials there will be suspending and or expelling those students(many of whom were arrested in a massive brawl that erupted at their school).  Will this be inaccurately labeled an over-reaction, or worse, an example of the "school to prison pipeline for these youth?"  Or, is there another more difficult explanation that has something to do with their home-lives? You can see the twitter posts of the riot in this article.

Or what about these students arrested at school for fighting and marijuana possession--Is this the school's fault? Should the school just give these students a pass on this?

What about these six students that skipped school yesterday and broke into a house, destroying TVs and other valuables--is this the school's fault these students skipped school and did this?  Really?  Is this a "school to prison pipeline?"  Or are these simply students making terrible decisions and paying a price for these choices?

If a student like this one called a bomb threat in to my kid's school, I'd expect them to be arrested for this-wouldn't you?  Or is this just a "school to prison pipeline" school over-reacting?

What about when someone  walks into a classroom and knocks another student unconscious and steals a cell-phone?  Does that warrant an arrest?  Or should they have proposed an after-school detention session for these youths...

It's time to stop the blame shifting and name calling directed at well meaning, well intentioned public school systems and employees who in the vast majority of instances are simply trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities to help students.  And when terrible, deplorable conduct like the Akron riots happen-employees that rightly did their jobs and police that rightly did their jobs--is it really okay to point a finger at these folks and say they "caused" this, and are a part of a "school to prison pipeline?"   I think anyone who thinks like that and thinks incidents like these and many others too numerous to count are the fault of the school systems exclusively-these folks have it badly wrong.

It's a lot like a recent documentary on the mistreatment of water park Orcas I watched on CNN.  I'm not comparing kids to Orcas-obviously students are humans and Orcas are animals (whales);  however there are some eerie similarities that can be discerned in the way incidents are explained and who gets blamed.

The corporate big-wigs at the water parks, instead of acknowledging the issue and saying "Yes, this was an unprovoked attack by a Killer Whale on a Trainer"  attempt to do everything possible to not face facts.  And, in the process they apparently blame the trainer for the accident which caused her to lose her life. According to this CNN Documentary, apparently the water parks also failed to acknowledge that the one violent whale, in particular, has now killed two humans and severely injured another.  Is there a pattern there?

Not the whale's fault is the answer.

When we as public school policymakers and advocates do not speak up and refute mis-truths by some entities about why many students are arrested when these same students commit crimes at school, are we not in essence like the water park execs? are we blaming the trainers(employees, teachers, staff, bus drivers)?  Guess what-- other "trainers" are watching and if they are not supported,  there won't be any more trainers or water parks.


Lorraine said...

Being a threat to others on a campus is a problem and usually warrants an arrest. That's not what most advocates of the school-to-prison pipeline find problematic. What they find problematic is students being arrested for minor offenses, such as a kid from West Florida wondering onto the Pine Forest campus. Does that warrant an arrest? No. It warrants consequences, but not to that degree. Or, consider a student who is in the cafeteria before school starts? Is an arrest warranted? Even some fights among youth do not warrant an arrest. It does depend on the nature of the fight, however.

This is the key information you seem to be overlooking, or perhaps are even unaware of. This is a useful website to understand what students are being arrested for.

I know we've talked a lot over the last few weeks and I feel some progress has been made. Anyway, promise I'll lighten up after we met next week.

Jeff Bergosh said...

1. The school district does not tell the deputies whom to arrest and under what circumstances-they make that call under established guidelines and protocols. And there is typically more to an arrest story than the two thumbnail sketches you mention above-believe me on that.

2. I don't overlook information and there is always a lot that I may be unaware of, I am sure of that. But one thing I am aware of is that by the time we expel a student from school in this district, that student (in the lion's share of the cases) has exhausted every possible chance for self-redemption (ISS, behavior contracts, OSS, etc.) As a matter of fact, you may be unaware that we expelled a student in February who had 50 previous serious discipline referrals, "Five-O", like, "Book 'em Dano" Hawaii Five O, FIFTY!! Of course, that student was a ninth grader and he was a minority student, so more that likely he's on somebody's list somewhere of how we, the schools, put him on a pipeline to prison--which is simply fictional rubbish. Once you peel back the onion on some of these cases, instead of solely focusing on numerical statistics and outcomes, you see that these students put themselves in these positions via unwise choices and out of control, destructive behaviors. Should a teacher be required to keep a student in his class that throws a desk at her and says "F*&K YOU!" Think about that. I say no, teachers deserve respect, and fellow students deserve a safe environment free of malicious, destructive, and violent conduct.

Lorraine said...

Jeff, you are digressing from the topic when you start to mention expulsions. That's not of concern right now. The issue is the school-to-prison pipeline. We are going to stick that point now.

Suppose that your very own child walked from West Florida to Pine Forest. How would you feel if he were arrested for that?

The school district does not tell deputies whom to arrest and under what circumstances? That's exactly the problem. It's solely up to the discretion of the school, leaving no protections for children place. Do they really follow guidelines? Is there data to prove that?

Suppose the child does misbehave or have referrals. A history of misbehavior still does not warrant *arresting* a child for a non-violent offense.

Now...I will get a bit more heart to heart.

My heart hurts Jeff. It does. Do you know why? Because you are continually refusing to see how school policies are part of the problem. It's hurts my heart to know you support policies that indeed push children into prisons, when we know that many of these children are facing many hardships.

I was a good kid and went to West Florida. I do remember that I had a yearning to meet my half-brother, and some familial problems made me upset and irritable because I was being prevented from that. That stress carried into school. I don't remember what occurred, but my teacher said something to me, and I eventually yelled, "YOU DONT KNOW WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH!" I was given a referral instead of understanding. I actually ended up ripping it up because I was so upset, and I didn't go to the dean. Thankfully, I got off the hook. Now that I am older and have studied psychology some, I understand that the part of the brain that controls emotion isn't even developed until 25 years of age!

Kids, when you get to know them, react out of frustration, many times. Do you understand that stress causes frustration and aggression? I'm doubtful you do, at least lately, since you have a decent life and seem like a cheerful person. But the reality, Jeff, is that our kids don't need to be merely punished for their misbehavior (for non-violent stuff). We need to understand what may be causing it so we can give proper behavioral intervention. As Oakcrest's motto says, "Every student...every day...whatever it takes!"

I hope you understand that we need to strengthen school policy and are open to alternatives from professionals who know much more about this than me.

Please have the integrity and courage to speak out. Some may be against it, but others will be behind you encouraging you when the pressure gets tough.