School To Prison Pipeline

Words: 7917
Pages: 32

Research suggests that a series of policies and practices have created circumstances that predictably, if not systematically, funnel millions of students from school into the juvenile justice system. The phrase that has emerged to describe the phenomenon is the school to prison pipeline (Wald & Losen, 2003).
This study explores zero tolerance policies and school discipline to better understand its effect in to bring awareness to an issue that may help in dismantling this pipeline. Particularly looking at those school divisions within Virginia that have disciplined students by expelling them or placing them on long-term suspension to see if these same divisions had lower on-time graduation rates than those divisions that did not utilize such
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Historically, educators resorted to corporal punishment, contacting parents, detentions, suspensions, and expulsions to manage student behavior (Rousmaniere & Dehli,n/d ; Martin & Nuzzi, 2004; Irby, 2009). As corporal punishment fell out of favor in the 1960’s, schools began to more frequently utilize detentions, suspensions, and expulsions (Skiba et al, 2000). Even though suspension and expulsions were not new forms of discipline they were implemented differently as school disciplinary practices began to shift (Dunbar & Villarruel, 2004). According to Rousmaniere & Dehli (n/d), emerging approaches to control behavior resulted in the establishment of norms of good behavior. Once norms for good behavior were established discipline would reinforce them. In short, as discipline reinforced norms for good behavior, it essentially became a mechanism for controlling school culture. By “culturally changing the apparatus of rules, technologies, and practices” (Rousmaniere & Dehli, p.67) schools ultimately changed school discipline to the extent that the changes become embedded in the social curriculum (Skiba & Peterson, 2003). The work of establishing “norms” is infused with power; especially as “bad” non-compliant behaviors, even if unrelated to teaching effectiveness, are punished. In Lewis’s (2006) study at three elementary schools she illuminates how a young African …show more content…
At the teacher's urging, Forum on Public Policy 10 police charged the boys with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years. The children were formally processed through the juvenile justice system before the case was dismissed months later.
• In Denton County, Texas, a 13-year-old was asked to write a "scary" Halloween story for a class assignment. When the child wrote a story that talked about shooting up a school, he both received a passing grade by his teacher and was referred to the school principal's office. The school officials called the police, and the child spent six days in jail before the courts confirmed that no crime had been committed.
• In Palm Beach, Florida, a 14-year-old disabled student was referred to the principal's office for allegedly stealing $2 from another student. The principal referred the child to the police, where he was charged with strong-armed robbery, and held for six weeks in an adult jail for this, his first arrest. When the local media criticized the prosecutor's decision to file adult felony charges, he responded, "depicting this forcible felony, this strong-arm robbery, in terms as though it were no more than a $2 shoplifting fosters and promotes violence in our schools." Charges were dropped by the prosecution when a 60 Minutes II crew showed up at the boy's