Many bemoan what has been characterized as an ever-expanding “school to prison pipeline.” As the theory goes, underprivileged minority students are disproportionately subjected to harsher, more punitive discipline than their non-minority peers. This “pushing-out” of students is the initial driver of the pipeline, eventually landing these students in the criminal justice system.
Many scoff at this characterization, instead believing that discipline is administered in a largely even-handed manner nationwide. Any acute over-representation of some minorities in expulsion statistics results simply from more serious infractions being committed by such students--is this rational, more logical assessment. To believe otherwise would lend credence to the preposterous notion that minorities are being targeted institutionally, nationwide, for more draconian punishments based solely upon race.
Believing professional educators, administrators, teachers, and deans nationwide would deliberately conspire to subject underprivileged minorities to tougher punishments than non-minority students for similar infractions is ludicrous in America circa 2015.
Rather than institutions “targeting” students, many believe this troubling nationwide pattern of disproportionate minority removals from school is actually the by-product of dysfunctional, deficient home lives.
The breakdown of the family unit has hit epidemic proportions in America; too many children today have no fathers, no mothers, no discipline and limited social foundations as they reach school-age.
Poverty is bandied about as the cause of such problems; however this is a disingenuous cop-out; the
vast majority of students –even those from extreme poverty- still manage to behave in school.
And maintaining school discipline is critical to the survival of the American public school system!
Our failure to regulate learning environments, appropriately and immediately curtailing abhorrent behavior, drives public school enrollments down as families of means scramble to enroll their children in alternative settings for safety’s sake-decreasing school revenues simultaneously.
Positive behavior programs, civil citations, In Lieu of suspensions--these policies are good and necessary--thety help some students’ behavior—but a significant number of students don’t respond positively. Politically correct (PC) efforts to keep chronically misbehaving students in school at all costs, even the most violent, disruptive and oftentimes dangerous students-contributes to stark teacher shortages at many urban schools.
What we tolerate as a public school system, we endorse.
As these PC discipline schemes become more ubiquitous, foisted upon districts nationwide (oftentimes legislated or dictated via threatened litigation), increasingly serious transgressions are tolerated before students are removed. Sadly, students flouting our rules become conditioned that misbehavior is actually “acceptable.”
Students in Escambia schools amass as many as 61 referrals for serious violations before expulsion-which is obscene and unconscionable.
Upon exiting the schools (often sans diploma) many former students whose behaviors were never seriously challenged in school end up in trouble with the law.
Often these former students are caught doe-eyed before a judge-where leniency isn’t mandated.
Transgressions these former students may have committed in school and essentially “got away with,” now become serious, life-changing offenses.
Assault, battery, trafficking, kidnapping, larceny- the list goes on…
Worse, with a zero-defect public mentality—Circuit Judges attempting to show any measure of leniency are summarily denounced, lampooned, and/orattacked--even when merely attempting to help youthful offenders that showpotential for redemption.
The criminal justice system is far less forgiving than are America’s schools.
So the sad fact is schools have, in many instances, provided the court system these “customers”-not by targeting minorities for disparate punishment as some naively espouse-but by failing to administer strict discipline districtwide.
Because of leniency, schools are, regrettably, culpable in the perpetuation of this “prison pipeline.”
So here’s a radical idea: Let’s start enforcing strict, colorblind discipline in schools again, smashing this pipeline for everyone’s benefit!