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"Arresting Development". Zero tolerance. Police in the Schools

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-06-12 09:47 PM
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"Arresting Development". Zero tolerance. Police in the Schools
Excellent article at Rethinking Schools magazine for this winter. The results of harsh right wing zero tolerance policies are fairly evident now.

My first encounter with this kind of militancy in the schools was just before I retired. Two of my second-graders, accompanied by older siblings, had broken into the teachers' lounge the night before.

Two big policemen came into my classroom and used the plastic handcuffs on those two students....right in front of the class. The boys were seven years old and little for their age. The police had trouble getting the cuffs tight because of the boys' small size. I guess they thought they were making a point to the rest of the class, but in that school it only made the two little boys into big heroes.

Here are some snips from the article at Rethinking Schools.

Arresting Development Zero Tolerance and the Criminalization of Children

]A week before classes ended last spring, 13-year-old Diana Nava was waiting with her mother, Modesto, for the Los Angeles city bus that goes near her school. Even though her mother had awakened Diana early, she was behind schedule. An LA police officer patrolling for truants spotted them at the bus stop and gave Diana a ticket for violating the citys daytime curfew. My mother said, Shes on her way to school but the officer said it didnt matter. For being late, Nava and her mother would have to go to court and face a $250 fine, a loss in time and money they could ill afford.

Nava was one of a dozen LA students who testified in August 2011 about their experiences with the truancy sweeps by LAPD officers and LA school police that have resulted in nearly 50,000 tickets since 2004. The hearing was called by Judge Michael Nash, head of LAs juvenile court system, in response to five years of organizing by parents, students, and youth advocates against what they see as unfair and ineffective policies. Supposedly designed to improve student attendance, this aggressive truancy policing has discouraged students from going to class and often pushes them to drop out and into harms way. Truancy tickets play a role in the school-to-prison pipeline, said student Cinthia Gonzalez at the hearing. Students are being brought up in an environment that is a pre-prisoning of youth.

There is more.

Police in the Schools

Zero tolerance policies have been matched by a police presence in schools that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. For example, in Texas, Augustina Reyes, a professor of education at the University of Houston, began researching suspensions in public schools in 1998. Recently, she said, zero tolerance has escalated to a new level, as police issue tickets for minor student code violations. Disrupting class, using profanity, acting up on a school bus, truancy, and fighting in a school hallway can lead to a class C misdemeanor ticket and a court appearance for the student and her/his parent, plus court costs of up to $500. In the 200708 school year, an estimated 275,000 non-traffic class C tickets were issued to juveniles in Texas, she reports.

My students did court visitations in the spring and they found Justice of the Peace Courts with as many as 200 students on the 10 a.m. court docket115 from high school, 80 from middle school, and 10 from the elementary school, she said in a phone interview. Of those cases, 85 percent of ticketed students were minorities or economically disadvantaged, Reyes said, and the financial burden on parents was significant. Although the judge typically defers sentences and requires perfect attendance for two to three months, Reyes noted that the court action creates a criminal record for students as young as 6 years old. The cases we heard clearly need (instead)school interventions that require teachers and administrators to come up with focused family interventions.

We now see "resource officers" all around in every school, even elementary schools. I remember the days when a police office on campus was a rarity. Now it is commonplace.

From an editorial at Rethinking Schools

The zero tolerance policies that today are the most extreme form of this punishment paradigm were originally written for the war on drugs in the early 1980s, and later applied to schools. As Annette Fuentes explains, the resulting extraordinary rates of suspension and expulsion are linked nationally to increasing police presence, checkpoints, and surveillance inside schools.

As police have set up shop in schools across the country, the definition of what is a crime as opposed to a teachable moment has changed in extraordinary ways. In one middle school were familiar with, a teacher routinely allowed her students to take single pieces of candy from a big container she kept on her desk. One day, several girls grabbed handfuls. The teacher promptly sent them to the police officer assigned to the school. What formerly would have been an opportunity to have a conversation about a minor transgression instead became a law enforcement issue.

Children are being branded as criminals at ever-younger ages. Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia, a recent report by Youth United for Change and the Advancement Project, offers an example:

Robert was an 11-year-old in 5th grade who, in his rush to get to school on time, put on a dirty pair of pants from the laundry basket. He did not notice that his Boy Scout pocketknife was in one of the pockets until he got to school. He also did not notice that it fell out when he was running in gym class. When the teacher found it and asked whom it belonged to, Robert volunteered that it was his, only to find himself in police custody minutes later. He was arrested, suspended, and transferred to a disciplinary school.

Taking handfuls of candy is no criminal offense. The teacher should have handled it with the girls. The very fact she sent them to the officer says a lot about how far the zero tolerance has gone.

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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-06-12 10:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. The Police State at schools seems the likely outcome of what schools focus on:
...far too often, "conformity".

Aside from content and concepts, which teachers are taught to "cover" thoroughly enough for students to remember long enough to pass standardized tests and then move on to the next chapter/grade/textbook/subject, the most important kids are taught in schools is to follow rules, to conform.

So when we tell them not to have a cellphone or an aspirin and they don't conform, well there's gonna be hell to pay.

How dreadful and sad!
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-06-12 11:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's ridiculous how rigid the policies are. Did you read about this?

" A Gwinnett County family is baffled that their teenager was disciplined after he reported to his teacher that he accidently brought a small pocket knife to school.

"I hate that Jack felt like he did was he was supposed to do, and for him these are dire consequences," said Angie Persyn, the teen's mother.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Persyn was at Chess Club before the start of classes at Lanier Middle School in Gwinnett County when he discovered an inch-and-a-half long knife in a bag he brought to school. The military style bag was given to him as a Christmas gift from his aunt, who bought it at a yard sale. The disciplinary report written by administrators at Lanier Middle states that the 8th grader "accidentally" brought the knife to school and that he "immediately self-reported" the weapon to his teacher.

Still, Jack was punished with four days of in-school suspension."

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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-07-12 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
3. They are being conditioned early to think of themselves and their peers
as perps or potential perps--and thus being trained to submit to the apparatus of a police state.
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AverageJoe90 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-12 03:04 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Corporal punishment, both at home AND school, hasn't helped, either.
I bring this up because even though many kids subjected to it do eventually either go nuts or wind up in jail, it also can have the effect of making complete robots out of some, just like Ritalin, and because the MSM rarely discusses it. :(
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