Police in Schools: Benefit or Liability?

Posted by Laurie Spivey

Are police in schools a good thing?

When my parents were in school, the halls were "patrolled" by P.E. teachers or vice principals. They were typically looking for kids loitering, chewing gum or sometimes, fighting. The sad reality is that times have changed drastically in the wake of high-profile shootings such as Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary. 

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Topics: School Safety

How to Shut Down The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Posted by Ronn Jakubovic

Reflecting on his role in the school-to-prison pipeline, an educator offers advice for the classroom

Hulu is currently airing an adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63. In the story, an ordinary man travels to the past to stop the assassination of JFK. As he was a teacher in the present, he uses that skill to get a job and blend into a bygone society. During his interview, the principal grills him on whether he can handle disciplining his class or if he will constantly send students to the office. 

That particular scene made me reflect on the school-to-prison pipeline blog and my own role in the system. I previously worked as an educator in a high school on the Mexican border during the height of cartel violence, a juvenile-development center for teens convicted of serious crimes and a public middle school with the reputation as “the worst in the area both academically and behaviorally.” These environments were and continue to be vulnerable cogs in the pipeline. While serving at-risk youth, did I handle my own discipline effectively? How many students did I send to the office either immediately or via disciplinary paperwork? Would that principal in the 1960s hire me?

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Topics: School Safety

What Are We Going to Do About the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Zero tolerance policies are pushing our kids into prison

An African American male born in 1940 had an 8-percent chance of ending up incarcerated if he did not attend college. In 1970, that figure rose to 36 percent. Want to know the chance of an African American male born in 1970 ending up incarcerated if he didn’t graduate high school? Seventy percent. That’s 7 out of 10 black youth.

So, how many African American males are not graduating high school? As of 2013, the graduation rate was 59 percent. (Compare that to 65 percent for Latino males and 80 percent for white males). This begs the question—why are so many of these young men not graduating high school? Well, partially because they’re disproportionately pushed into prison due to overwhelmingly Draconian discipline policies, a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline.Schooltoprisonpipeline.jpg

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Topics: School Safety

Should Police Be In Schools? Get A Parent’s Perspective

Posted by Sue Dee

A Parent's Opinion of Police Presence in Schools 

My oldest child just turned 12. There are so many new experiences coming our way, rites of passage as she stands on the threshold of adolescence. She is bright, creative (read: dramatic) and loves school. We are lucky that her friends are polite, sweet, “good kids” with like-minded parents.

The age of 12 represents a lot for me as a parent. Not only are the teen years less than a year away, but my daughter has started middle school—a setting where I can only worry more and protect her less from the trials of growing up. Elementary school was a little bubble, a protective cocoon where all the kids felt like part of our big family. As parents, we had the goal of protecting them all.

Middle school is different. My daughter told me that sometimes there are police in the school cafeteria to stop occasional fights. This revelation made me catch my breath. Gone is the protective bubble of those elementary-school years. I was horrified and completely torn.police_in_school

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Topics: School Safety

Zero Tolerance Policy in Schools

Posted by Dr. Scott Henggeler

This is a true story. The name has been changed.

Little T had minor scrapes with authorities throughout his adolescence—some alcohol and drug related, others more aggressive in nature. Toward the end of his junior year, Little T and two of his classmates broke into their high school in the middle of the night. The damage they racked was so extensive that school administrators were forced to broadcast a 5 am emergency cancellation of school to all students and personnel. School was closed for 2 days for cleanup, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars, disrupting the education of hundreds of students, and inconveniencing hundreds of families.photo_of_troubled_kid

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Topics: School Safety

Closing the School to Prison Pipeline is the Best Alternative

Posted by Dr. Scott Henggeler

Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense

What is the school to prison pipeline? As the name suggests, this term refers to the disturbing trend in which at-risk youth are pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system. This trend desperately needs reversing, as many students pushed into the pipeline are never able to escape it.

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Topics: School Safety

Get Tough Policies in School Don't Work

Posted by Marshall Swenson

We all have stories from our own school experiences. Teachers we liked, others we disliked.  Someone who we will remember always. Bullies. Best friends forever.  Times when we made mistakes we regretted - whether caught or not. Things we appreciated, others we wished were different. But, one thing has surely changed - that is how our schools respond to discipline issues. Way back in my day misbehavior led to a dreaded trip to the principal's office, or detention, or worse, our parents were called. But today it can lead to a criminal record. Sure, some behaviors have changed with the times, but kids have not at the most basic level. They still want to be accepted by friends, and to feel competent.  

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Topics: School Safety