Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Disconnecting Public School from the Juvenile Justice System

An ongoing baby moses project dialogue

The Angry Independent said...
The urban public school systems in this country, especially in areas that are predominantly African American, have been turned into Prisons.

Eddie Griffin says… It is imperative that we disconnect urban public schools from the juvenile justice system. The rash of disciplinary problems in school has led many of our young people directly into prisons. The connections are so strong that the urban school environment has taken the shape of a penal pre-incarceration regime.

Disproportionate punishment of black male students and the concomitant one-in-three black boys going to prison is a correlation that cannot be ignored.

The Angry Independent said...
A small percentage of troublemakers have turned these schools into a living hell for those who are interested in getting a decent education. It is no surprise to me that the kids internalize the negatives in their environment and live up to the low expectations that responsible adults have for them.

Many of these kids (and I used to be one of them) have a hard enough time with their home lives.... then they must get up everyday to endure another bad situation. School should be a positive escape for these kids... someplace where they can look forward to going everyday. That kind of environment is not too condusive to learning...or for any positive development whatsoever.

Eddie Griffin says… I agree that schools should be a positive escape, a place they can look forward to going everyday. This suggests an environmental change in the school setting. We can make our schools more attractive, more accommodating, more hospitable, more humane and sane, less contentious and less grievous.

But in order to even envision such an ideal school system we would first have to do some soul-searching to see if such a vision is even inside of ourselves. People are the problem, not the school as an institution.

If we can teach in the squalid remote parts of the Third World, then we should also be able to teach at home. We say that we love the people of impoverished Third World countries and yet we hate our own impoverished riffraff here at home. There is jaundice in the humanitarian and philanthropic eyes.

About the “few troublemakers” that disrupt our schools, you mentioned their destructive influence and its negative effects. The troublemaker must be co-opted into the education regime, rather than thrown out as an outcast. Expulsions only remove the problem to a different area (such as crime).

The Angry Independent said...
Luckily... I was able to get out of my bad situation right before entering middle school. The high schools that I attended were nothing like what you would find in urban New York, L.A., Chicago, St. Louis, etc.

But the authorities (including the school administrators/school board) are in an almost impossible situation as well. They have to be able to deal with drugs and gang activity in many of these schools...which sometimes involves weapons. If something were to happen, and these measures were not in place... then parents would be up in arms about that... So it's a catch 22 situation.

Eddie Griffin says… School administrators, being paid such exorbitant salaries, should be expected to establish law and order on each campus. The superintendent of Fort Worth ISD should be able to deal with malfeasant culture rather than dodge bullets. For that salary, I would face down a gang banger with a gun in his hand. If America is so fearful of school violence, fire the superintendent and hire S.W.O.T. teams. Maybe in the long run, you would save money.

The Angry Independent said...
But one irony that I need to point out here is this... I mentioned that I never went to an urban big city school. I went to a rural/suburban High school that was racially/economically mixed...but mostly white.... and the other high school I attended was a Federal Government High school...which is a completely different system and environment.

The point is... these are exactly the kinds of High schools where most of the nation’s biggest shootings have taken place over the last decade. (Columbine, and at least a dozen other big cases). Yet most of these schools don't have metal detectors nor do they have such an aggressive police presence where students are herded like livestock. There is no prison environment in those schools (typically).

I have yet to hear of a major shooting case at a Black urban school (although some shootings do happen and guns are often recovered in sweeps). There are cases of 1..2 people wounded... but nothing like the mass shootings that take place at predominantly White suburban schools.

Yet it's the urban students who routinely have to deal with this kind of environment. Why is that? I think that it has to do with socio-economics...& not necessarily security. In other words... poorer parents are less likely to challenge these measures... they don't have the money for legal expenses, etc.

Suburban schools, on the other hand, are full of students from more well-off backgrounds...and the authorities wouldn't dare treat Wally Cleaver in the same manner...because the legal challenges would be fierce. They simply would not be able to get away with it.

Eddie Griffin says… I would be careful about over-generalizing the cause of violence in our schools. The real general problem is the mass production of psychotics- and, it’s not in the water or the gene pool. It’s in the upbringing.

The Angry Independent said...
This is where groups like the ACLU must step in and (at the very least) demand better standards and a system of rights for students. They should take these cases to Federal Court. Females should not have to raise their shirts... there should be a private area and enough female personnel on duty. There should be video of each checkpoint area... and a system where students/parents could complain or appeal their treatment.

Eddie Griffin says… Do we need metal detectors and screeners in our schools? There is a problem here as to who is paranoid and why. If parents better understood the pathological behavior of their children, rather than putting on blinders, much fear could be deflated. If we understood that most gangs are not “gangs” per se, but cliques, then we would use a different model for their organizational behavior problems. Punitive psychology is always inferior to cognitive psychology. Teaching children to understand their behavior, responsibilities, and expectations are best enforced through proactive indoctrination, rather than punishment. We cannot assume that all children instinctively know the difference between right and wrong. They must be taught the right and proscribed the wrong.

The Angry Independent said...
This also has to do with the demonization of Black kids...(thanks to the media). There is this fear that exists & is the undertone for everything else...for every other contact that they have with teachers and police. This fear dictates that Black students are a threat (by default) and must be dealt with accordingly. When in fact, the security should be based on actual (professionally conducted) threat/risk assessments.

All in all... there has to be a balance between security and a decent learning environment. It might be a good idea to put federal observers in some of these schools (some of the worst offenders). I bet many of these police and school officials would moderate their behavior if they knew there were independent observers monitoring their activities.

Eddie Griffin says… There is, indeed, a public fear of black kids, especially black boys. And, security placements are always focused on them. If any child gets caught doing anything wrong, rest assured it is the black child. Others do the same, and when they do not get by as usual, they get slapped on the wrist as punishment, while our children wound up in the pen.

In Texas, Paris Hilton could have gotten up to 10 years for repeated DUI and driving recklessly with suspended license. But then too, even in Texas, she is still Paris Hilton.

Yes indeed, we have noted the evolving militarization of our schools, with metal detectors, armed security guards, and draconian punitive measures. Thankfully, the Texas Legislature saw fit to stop the insane flow of children from the classrooms to the jailhouses, for minor disciplinary actions. And, as we began to examine how we can solve our problems ourselves, internally, without the feds or the state, we must recognize that as long as the public school system exists (in its present form), we will need monitors to monitor the monitors.

We have some basic misconceptions about human nature. We assume that given the choice, people will do the bad thing, especially looking through colored lenses. But people, especially children, are more amenable that we think.

I agree with Fort Worth Police Chief Ralph Mendoza, who said at a school-related forum, that if he had his way, he would not even put police officers inside the schools. But this is Fort Worth, Texas, where we have our children reasonably under control. It probably would not work for New York.
(See “Criminalizing the Classroom” in Make It Plain where 93,000 children undergo extreme security measure in New York every day)

Read The Angry Independent blog that made my day.

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