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.

Worse?  The school system invokes the criminal and judicial systems for the dumbest things.  Not just this sort of thing; the urban school systems refer “habitual truants” to the judicial system.

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.

10 thoughts on “Cross-Purposes

  1. Plus, decision-making is HARD. It’s much easier to just enforce policy, simultaneously removing the problem from your immediate concern and any blowback from you because you were only following procedure.

  2. Ah yes, this reminds me of when my son got suspended from school for sexual harassment. Some girl told him to “kiss her butt”, and being the comedian he is, he did.
    Did I mention this suspension was in Kindergarten?

  3. Kermit;

    I hope that you showed the proper respect to the teacher’s union party apparatchik that meted out the punishment to your son. Was Sieg Heil! perhaps part of your greeting to the moron?

  4. Mitch, I think the teacher’s union maybe less to blame in this than our society’s love affair with the Tort Bar. Being married to a teacher has opened my eyes regarding the inner workings of the system and the inane, court-fearing regulations that teachers are obligated to follow, as opposed to common sense. In a nutshell, discipline gets looked at through a retrospective lens with the idea of identifying alleged inconsistencies. So when Johnny brings a switchblade to school and threatens to decapitate somebody, his defense attorney argues, but Janey had a nail file that could have been used as a weapon. My client is being singled out, blah blah blah. hence, the no tolerance policy on sharps. A kid my daughters went to HS with got suspended for a day for bringing a toy cowboy six shooter to school on a day when everyone was supposed to dress in a costume. So he had the hat, the boots and chaps. Even though he was an honors student, he paid the price so the douche bags of the world wouldn’t have a “fairness” argument when they brought a replica Glock to scare people with.

  5. Boss, I talked to the principal (whose name, unsurprisingly, was Mr. Primm) and asked him how a six year old could possibly commit sexual harassment. He told me that they had a “zero tolerance policy”.
    This society has become insane.

  6. Besides, they don’t start the cucumber and condom instruction until 2nd grade.

  7. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again. While still under my control, my children will never set foot into a public school for “educational” purposes.

  8. Kermit;

    “I talked to the principal ”

    In other words, you might as well have been talking to a brick wall!

  9. To be fair, I had an issue when my daughter was a junior in high school. One of the class bullies The class bully sat behind her one day in Science class and kept messing with her, poking her with his pen, etc. Finally, she turned around and nailed him. The teacher didn’t see it, so she might have gotten away with, but she turned herself in. Obviously, “zero tolerance” caused her a one day suspension, but I was over there the next morning raising hell.

    One of the assistant principals, a classmate from my high school, privately told me that the little prick got what he deserved and believe me, I’m making it my mission for the rest of the year to ride him like horse. True to his word, the puke spent a lot of time in detention for the rest of the year. Her teacher also applauded her to me privately, saying the kid most likely deserved it. Other kids that had been the miscreant’s victims came up ot my daughter and thanked her.

    Needless to say, no one messed with her again. She refuses to be a victim.

    I am so proud of her!

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