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 29, 2014

Home to Prison Pipeline Part III


The Idea of a "School to Prison Pipeline" should be properly called what it is, a "Home to Prison Pipeline"

Are teachers and school staff really the reason why so many students are on the so-called "School to Prison Pipeline?"  As I've pointed out here and here, I don't believe so.  Some students come to school looking for trouble and are not interested whatsoever in school--and often these same students attack fellow students,  teachers, and staff.  And when appropriate discipline is meted out, like in this horrific case from Mobile where two students attacked a teacher with brass knuckles, there are some who still cling to the naive belief that this is somehow the school's fault.  It is absolutely ridiculous.  Excellent writer Thomas Sowell captures much of the problem in today's well written piece from Town-Hall

Locally-we had a student in February that we did not expel, we simply shuffled him to another school, a charter school, after he had amassed more than 50 referrals!  Disrespect, defiance, profanity, classroom disruptions, failure to follow directions, cussing at a teacher, calling the teacher a Mother- F%^&#@er, collecting a couple of arrests for shoplifting, and we still have him in school.  Are we putting him on a pipeline to prison?  Or are we overcompensating and bending over like circus contortionists to not do what we should have done with this student--EXPEL HIM!  Bending over backwards for disruptive, abusive, and dangerous students does nobody any good whatsoever, and simply confirms the fears that many parents harbor as they pull their own kids out of our schools to shelter them from this abusive conduct and toxic environments like this.  And then  there are the teachers that we ask to take this abuse- it is not right, and they don't deserve it, and if we don't confront these issues with strong discipline-we won't have anybody willing to teach in some schools!

Everyone should read this expose that appeared in Townhall last October, it really sets the table on the issue nobody wants to talk about.

And then watch this video from Baltimore ABC 2 News and hear the tragic, heart-wrenching story of teacher Jeff Slattery and what happened to him.

And then look at this example from earlier this month in Santa Monica. A well respected wrestling coach discovered a student with drugs and a weapon, and the student attacked him.  the coach subdued the student using wrestling, and the superintendent of the district attacked the coach's actions and suspended this employee.  There was such a huge backlash to the scapegoating of this coach that even the liberal LA Times sided with the coach and rightfully excoriated this weakling superintendent of schools out there.  (Coach Black has been reinstated)

Or, how about this teacher, simply trying to get a trouble student to leave class, and he gets attacked by the student, puched, and kicked.  [ NOTE---I do not endorse nor do I agree with everything the presenter in this video espouses after the video clip, these are HIS opinions, not mine]

Now, if you have the stomach, watch this selection of  various videos from around the internet of students misbehaving badly in class.  Should school employees and other students have to tolerate this sort of behavior?  No way!

The uncomfortable fact of the matter is that schools must not hide the problems by not disciplining students to lower report-able incident numbers and thereby  sweeping this problem under the rug, as some feel Cincinnati, Ohio, and several districts in Georgia have done.

Are we doing this here locally?  We've stopped reporting the incidents to the Board on the monthly meeting agenda, and at last month's meeting several board members "golf-clapped" when the superintendent announced there "were no student discipline issues to report on the agenda!"  (that's because the thirty or so items that used to be called expulsions are now called "placement changes"-- and the board simply receives a list of these without the background info.  But these are still serious infractions, drugs, fighting, violence. weapons.)  I didn't clap because I know there were/are plenty of discipline issues--and many are going unpunished, or not punished severely enough--to appease certain folks who think we target minority students for discipline in a disparate manner, which is absolute, 100% complete garbage that is not true!

Strong consistent and colorblind discipline needs to be applied to keep students, teachers, and staff safe, and political correctness needs to be taken out of this mix, otherwise the public school system will implode.


lorraine said...


I am disappointed in you. Either you are sincerely ignorant to the fact that we arrest students for non-violent offenses, or you are trying to cover.

As I said last time, that's what the school-to-prison pipeline is about: arresting students for non-violent offenses. I agree that there are cases that you may not be able to do something for a child. Those cases are more rare than we'd like to think, though. I do know behavior coaches work, as one student who disrespected me showed much respect for me a few weeks later when I returned to the class (as a sub).

It is also true that by punishing students for moderate misbehavior sometimes makes the situation worse. For example, mostly my problems as a sub are kids who have 1) no discipline and 2) act like they are on a playground. A frustrated teacher, as I have observed, can can provoke disrespect from students. Instead of using responses that will increase positive behavior, out of anger and frustration, they use responses that tend to increase bad behavior. This is just basic human psychology, but it's even more important to realize when dealing with immature, developing students.

Finally, I leave you with a Ted Talk on one teacher who never gave up on her students, no matter how much they tried to make her miserable. Instead of a referral, she gave them a journal. Instead of a referral, she gave them a voice. Instead of a referral, she gave them a book. Instead of a suspension, she cultivated their emerging identities. All 150 of her students, who were from gangs and predicted to drop out, graduated. She never, ever stopped believing in their potential, and when you care about a kid that much, and give them a real education, even when they are causing problems, they tend to change over time. I talked a bit more about this on my recent blog posts, too.

Jeff, do you believe in students? Do you believe in them even when they are going through rebellious stages and simply need guidance? I am not sure if you do, when you merely support punitive measures. I am not sure if you do, if you think sending a kid to ISS to merely stare at a wall day. I am not sure if you do, if you do not support training teachers in better methods of discipline through both classroom management and even curriculum.

I hope you can see the big picture and realize how we are disciplining kids is not decreasing misbehavior. Don't you see that? We need new, fresh ideas to discipline students that meet better outcomes. We need to let them know that even when they are bad, we still believe in them.


Jeff Bergosh said...


I want school climate and safety to be the number one priority. When students misbehave, there must be real consequences, applied equally and in a colorblind manner. And I REJECT any of the liberal, Eric Holder garbage about disparate impacts on minority students. One standard, equally applied, let the chips fall where they may and let Eric Holder keep his nose out of our business, it is not his place. He needs to spend his time sorting out how fast and furious got covered up. Meanwhile, lorraine, read about these three wonderful elementary students who attempted to gang rape another student after they bullied him relentlessly for months and the school administrator did NOTHING to protect the bullied victim! What should we do with these students if you are in charge? Should they be treated differently if the victim was non-minority and the perpetrators were minority? Read this , then think, think about this Lorraine, then tell me who's fault it is and what should be done when schools do not discipline kids for fear of running afoul of the feds and the social justice organizations, and then tragedy like this strikes? I expect a rational, intelligent answer and not simply more left-leaning talking points. Think like a parent.

Anonymous said...

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous-Proverbs 13:24 "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them"

....But I also wholeheartedly agree and believe that 1 Peter 4:8 is equally applicable here. It is all about balance

Carrot and Stick. Strong discipline and guidance = love!

Anonymous said...

Your right Jeff. Many of the kids at some of the schools out here just have no respect for adults and they don't care. They aren't raised right at home, and teachers have to put up with this insane behavior. How can learning be done in this environment. United States is falling behind academically all because of behavior problems in the schools, and we all have to suffer because of this. I don't think we all should have to suffer because of this. We need to end the massive political correctness and take action.