No Child Left Behind, and other testing-based regulations, classroom focus has shifted to 'teaching to the test'. Because of the high stakes involved with student performance, these practices incentivise the 'weeding out' of troublesome students.
Common Dreams reports that "schools in Florida gave low-scoring students longer suspensions than high-scoring students for similar infractions, while in Ohio students with disabilities were twice as likely to be suspended out of school than their peers."
Furthermore, when course materials often ignore or disparage students' heritage, children begin to learn that their lives are not important (see post: White History Month). This lesson is reinforced school authorities objectify and harass students as they travel the hallways.
|Click to view Alexa's journey on |
the school-to-prison pipeline
Increasingly, children gain early exposure to prison environments and internalized the idea that they are expected to be criminals. Indeed, "the overuse of suspensions and expulsions may actually increase the likelihood of later criminal misconduct."
We are teaching our children that delinquency is normal and expected of them and their peers. Students learn to distrust teachers, adult mentors, law enforcement, and the judicial system. They learn that jail is an inevitable destination, regardless of their behavior.
George Galvis describes his first experience with police at his school this way: “I was 11. There was a fight and I got called to the office. The cop punched me in the face. I looked at my principal and he was just standing there, not saying anything. That totally broke my trust in school as a place that was safe for me.”
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It's true that the Bible says "do not withhold discipline from a child" (Proverbs 23:13), but it is also clear that our youth "are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him" (Psalm 127:3). Do we really believe that only certain kinds of children are precious? Thus, we are also instructed "do not provoke your children to anger" (Ephesians 6:4) and "do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged" (Colossians 3:21)
Play this interactive game to learn how easy it is to get caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline and then find out what you can do to ensure that schools are a safe and nurturing environment for all students.
From the ACLU: How can we ensure safe public schools while respecting all students’ right to education? If you had a million dollars to spend on education in your community, what would you do with it?