Christian Living · Education

Thoughts on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

BeFunky Collage 8At the end of my 3rd year teaching I was approached by a school administrator and was told that I had a high number of office referrals. He told me that, although he did not think I was doing anything wrong, he was obligated to talk to me and discuss alternatives.  I was defensive at first, but soon realized that he was receiving pressure from his supervisors and the state to cut back on suspensions. He thought that I was a good teacher and had a handle of my class. I was trying the ‘no-nonsense’ approach. I followed the school rules and expected my students to follow them as well. I set high-expectations for my students. I did not allow one student to take away from the learning of the class by acting out. My student’s test scores were improving and I thought it was working. If a student was acting out I would follow the disciple guide lines the school provided.  When we had our conversation, I told him that I felt like I was being punished for following the discipline guidelines and expectations the district had set.

If a hospital had a high number of heart surgeries. They would never tell their doctors to cut back on scheduling surgeries. They would look at increasing preventive care to prevent patients from needing heart surgery.

I read an article on the correlation of out of school suspensions and prisons.   While I acknowledge there is a connection, I don’t understand why we have it in our mind that if we cut back on out of school suspensions it will fix our prison problem.  Poor behavior in school, resulting in out of school suspensions, is just a surface problem. We can’t just stop suspending kids. We must dig deeper and look at the root cause.  Why are the students acting this way? How can we fix their behavior? What preventive care can we provide?

I encourage you to read the book “CHARACTER UNDER ATTACK: & WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!” by Carl Sommers. I cried and cried while reading it. It allowed me to see the root cause of our problem is so much bigger than anything I can do. There needs to be a fundamental change in our society if we want to see any improvements in our schools. Parents need to step up. Kids need fathers and stronger support at home. Families must be mended.

I was never formally disciplined for my high office referral numbers, it was just a conversation.  For the remainder of the year, I loosen up on my expectations and let my students walk all over me.  This resulted in some students treating each other poorly as I ignored their behavior. The end  result was less instruction time in the classroom, lower test scores, stress and anxiety .

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Amazon Review for CHARACTER UNDER ATTACK: & WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!” by Carl Sommers – “Discover Why. . . America has such high rates of violent criminal activity, rates of imprisonment, school crime, sexually transmitted disease, teenage pregnancy, and suicide. In a nation that has drifted far from its core moral system, Carl Sommer’s hard-hitting expose’ reveals the underlying causes and offers common-sense solutions for improving America’s education and moral climate. Sommer, an award-winning author and educator, addresses the issues of moral relativism, the rise of anticulturalism, and the philosophical battle raging behind the lack of character in today’s society of diminishing values. Character Under Attack examines the issues and provides practical advice on how parents and educators can create a more respectful society and produce successful children prepared to make this world a better place. Recognizing the spirit in which our Founding Fathers established this great nation, you’ll discover from this well-documented book what went wrong and what you can do about it. A must for parents and educators.”

2012- 1st Year Teacher!

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