The School to Prison Pipeline
Do you remember the “good old days” when all educators had to worry about were gum-chewing in class, talking or passing notes, or shoving in the hall? Now these minor disruptions are the least of our problems.
We are now concerned about budget cuts, bullying, and weapons in school. Schools are now addressing problems which used to be addressed by other components of society – families, the church and government. And like many other elements, we have created “zero tolerance” rules and regulations which lead to suspension from classes or even school. These zero tolerance rules increase the likelihood of students dropping out of school. The harsh penalty of exclusion leads students further down the road toward prison.
I favor the penalties for bringing a weapon into school. But a “one size fits all” penalty has resulted in a pre-school child being expelled for bringing a paper gun to school.
Students shouldn’t be excluded from school but placed in a different environment where a child may be given a second chance. The message we give students who are tardy and then suspended is , “you were absent for 10 days, so your punishment is to be suspended for 10 more days.” How can a student possibly make up the work?
School officials need to look at the individual infraction and then determine the penalties.