It’s been one of my longest-standing beeves with the education system (among many) that schools have morphed into taking a pseudo-judicial approach to handling disciplinary problems, which faithfully replicates the judicial system’s hidebound, hoary proceduralism, as well as its disregard for people as individuals.
Which makes sense in a judicial system. Not so much in education.
Nekima Levy-Pounds writing at Learnmore MN notes the ways that the education system has been turned into the minor league for the corrections system:
Teachers, administrators, and parents are often unaware of the critical role that school policies play in determining whether a child is on his or her way to college or prison. In Minnesota, children as young as 10 years old may be incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility for violating the law…Disturbingly, roughly 25% of referrals to the juvenile justice system are made by schools. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, African American children are over-represented amongst those in the juvenile justice system. This carries with it a whole host of consequences, including high rates of trauma experienced by children in detention, a greater likelihood of adult criminality and difficulty reintegrating back into society after being released from detention.
Although some may feel that if you “do the crime, you should do the time,” the lines between childish antics and criminality are often blurred when it comes to conduct that occurs on school premises. For example, when I was a student in school, a school fight would likely result in suspension or in extreme cases, expulsion. Now, when a school fight occurs, the youths involved in the fight may be referred to the school resource officer, who in turn may take the youths to the juvenile detention center (JDC).
Ditto. When I was in school, being a teenage idiot got you a stern talking, and sometimes a pounding, from the assistant principal, Mr. Luttschwager, a 6’6 inch former Marine, and maybe a date with Mr. Buchholtz, a former Marine fighter pilot, who talked all kinds of sense into a kid’s head, without necessarily putting a blot on their record that would dog them for the rest of his life.
Once a child is taken to the JDC, he or she may spend one or more nights locked in secure detention. The child will then have to appear before a judge, be appointed legal counsel and make grown-up decisions; with or without the involvement of a parent throughout the process. Although many believe that a child’s juvenile record disappears when the child turns 18, this is not often the case, as some juvenile records remain accessible until a child’s 28th birthday. As such, employers and landlords are frequently unwilling to hire someone with a juvenile history. Once this occurs, the child will more likely dive deeper into the criminal justice system and have little hope for breaking the cycle of incarceration.
And it is amazingly easy for a school to turn a matter of teenage hormones and bobbleheadery into a legal matter.
And it needs to stop:
In order to dismantle the school to prison pipeline in Minnesota, we must ensure that the JDC is reserved for only those youths who need to be there. Schools must become more selective about making referrals to the system and find creative and less damaging ways to address misbehavior on the part of students.
Unfortunately, the educational academy is being run according to two motivations that conflict directly with the idea of common sense;
- the academic academy, feminized as it’s become, regards adolescent male behavior of any type as a pathology, and…
- the teachers’ unions have done their best to change education from an intellectual job into an industrial one, with procedures and repeatable process and with policies to cover areas where thought might otherwise be required.
I’m not actually sure that the public education can be saved, anymore.