Hallway 2.0 – Saying No to Zero Tolerance Pt. Two

Zero Tolerance Behavior Policies are a fungus threatening to grow out of control in some schools but not in Community High Hallway 2.0. They say, “No to Zero.”

First hour has just ended and students pour out of classrooms and into the bright hallways filled with murals created by students at the school.
Animated chatter, joking, and banter back and forth among students and school personnel fill the air. Administrators walk the hallways and teachers stand outside of their classroom doors with the purpose of motivating students to not dally at their lockers or dawdle with friends on their way to the next class.
Minutes later the tardy bell rings and some students make a mad dash to be on the other side of the door when it is closed. Punctuality is an important trait, but some teachers also realize that strict punctuality is a holdover from an industrial economy that required workers to be punctual in order that costly machines not be kept idle. Some teachers are flexible about not locking their doors after the tardy bell and allow students to enter a few minutes late without a pass as long as they enter quietly and not disturb their peers. After all, everyone is late for something at some point in their lives is their reasoning.

Fifteen minutes into the period, a ninth grade student wearing baggy pants strides aimlessly through the school hallway without a pass or his student ID. A teacher sees him and inquires in a firm but non-confrontational tone, “Sir, where do you belong now? Are you headed to class?
Embarrassed, the student looks away but replies, “I was 15 minutes late, and the teacher had locked the door. “
In an even tone, the teacher further inquires, “Is there any way I can help remedy the situation? Are you frequently late?
Frustrated, the student responds, “No, but today is not a good day for me; I lost my ID, left my homework home. Maybe I should just go back home.”
The teacher asks, “What’s your name young man? What year are you?
A security officer outfitted in a burgundy blazer, dark trousers, and wearing a badge that identifies him as Officer Wentworth spots the two in hall and inquires if everything is OK. He notices that the student is not displaying his ID.
The teacher answers, “Good Morning Officer Wentworth, this young man and I were just becoming acquainted. His name is Jose Alexander.
Security officer Wentworth inquires, “Mr. Alexander, I see you are not wearing your ID today.”
The students looks off into the distance and replies, “I seem to have misplaced it.”
In an even tone, the security officer informs, “You know there is a penalty for not having your ID. I’m going to let you off with a warning Mr. Alexander. But we need to be extra careful now with so many acts of violence taking place to make certain that only people who belong in the school house are here. Are you “feelin me”? Can you prove that you belong here?
The student shows him his books, notebooks, papers with his name on them and gives him the name of his counselor.

The security officer requests that he belt his pants as he writes his name on a form. The teacher escorts him to the library and instructs him to quietly work on an assignment.

Say NO

Say NO

Community High Hallway- 2.0-School Culture
A culture where troublesome behavior is solved in a non-confrontational matter whenever possible filters through Community High Hallway 2.0. It is a school with a soul and a heart. School administrators have decided that security officers’ wearing a blazer and trousers present less of an institutional/jail house feel. Security personal patrolling hallway 2.0 are called security officers instead of guards and display a badge that clearly identifies them by name. Students have been repeatedly instructed via assemblies and class meetings to address them by the title of officer and to include their last name when possible. Because students are bombarded daily by declining communities, massive unemployment, and dysfunctional family life, security guards are trained to be sensitive to the emotional frustrations of students.

Modeling R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Educators in Hallway 2.0 understand that our verbal and nonverbal behaviors influence student behaviors and responses. The voice serves as a weapon of confrontation or as a tool of cooperation.

“I have come to the conclusion that I am the decisive element in the school house. As a security officer OR teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response (voice) that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized and wind up trapped in the school to prison pipeline” With Thanks to Haim Ginott, psychologist

While patrolling the halls, it is often necessary to make requests of students with whom adults have developed no relationship. In attempting NOT to be confrontational with students in the hall, and thereby not lose control of the situation, security personnel have been educated to approach students with a firm but non-threatening tone, addressing them by “young man,” “sir,” “mister.” “young lady,” or “miss,” if they do not know their names. In addition, the use of “please” and “thank you” when making requests increases cooperation.
“Sir, thank you for picking up that popcorn that you just spilled on the floor; I appreciate it very much.”
Young lady, where is your pass? You are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct (or whatever the student discipline/culture code is called in your district”.
Young man, please refrain from…”

(NEVER call an African-American teenage male “boy” unless it is your INTENT is to be aggressive, disrespectful, hostile, or to escalate a situation.)

Security personnel keep repeating the request in a firm tone (not pleading or begging) until they gain cooperation. Using this approach lets the students know that the adult is the voice of authority and reason, but we care because we are giving respect (R-E-S-P-E-C-T) by addressing them in a positive manner.

Guiding Philosophy- Saying “No” to Zero Tolerance
According to the Center for Civil Rights at UCLA, Zero Tolerance Behavior Policies were responsible for over 1,000.000 middle and high school students being suspended during the school year 2009 and 2010, Suspensions were for infractions that did not include violent behavior. Such punishments increase the likelihood that students will drop out of school.
The staff at Community High School 2.0 have made a conscious decision that Zero Behavior Policies will not be tolerated in their school house. Understanding that such policies unnecessarily criminalize nonviolent behaviors and lock in students who are most emotionally and economically vulnerable into a school-to-prison pipeline trap.

No School to Jail Pipeline

No School to Jail Pipeline

The philosophy that guides behavior policies at the school: Are students displaying deviant behaviors or normal developmental behaviors ?

Deviant behaviors such as extortion, carrying weapons, possessing controlled substances need outside intervention from law enforcement, a social service agency and/or parents.

However, normal developmental behaviors come with the job of educating young people: talking back, not wearing an ID, wearing inappropriate clothing, cheating, in-school truancy, cell phone use, etc. and, therefore, should be handled INSIDE of the school house. Thus, preventive and intervention measures are put into place, such as using the voice as a tool for cooperation, contracts, class meetings, assemblies, student government, etc.

In the compliant hallways (1.0) of some schools, Zero Tolerance Behavior Policies are a fungus threatening to grow out of control but not in Community High Hallway 2.0. They say, “No to Zero.”

Avoiding the School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Tale of Two Hallways Pt.One

Security Guards Take Note

Compliant High Hallway 1.0
A crowded and excessively noisy hall way is the daily way of life at Compliant High School 1.0. Students push, squeeze, and wiggle their way through the crowd to avoid arriving late to class. Some loiter at their lockers as an administrator patrols the halls with a bullhorn and a bat in an attempt to keep order and to keep the students moving. Finally, the tardy bell rings and students make a last minute scramble to be on the other side of the door before they are locked out.
Ten minutes into the period a student wearing baggy pants strides aimlessly through the school hallway without a pass or his student ID. A teacher sees him and in a rapid, demanding bursts shouts, “Where do you belong? Where is your pass? The tardy bell rang ten minutes ago. “
Snidely, he replies, “ None of your business.”

A security guard dressed in a uniform of a brown shirt, matching khaki pants and a badge overhears the dialogue and steps in. In a confrontational body language and tone, he barks, “Boy, where do you belong? Where is your ID, and do you have a pass?
Angrily, the student responds, “Get off my back, you ain’t nothing but a security guard.” (Unfortunately, Security guards’ institutional looking uniforms and badges only serve to make students feel they are being warehoused.)
Confrontation meets confrontation and a power struggle ensues between the security guard and the student.

Result: the student receives a three day out-of-school suspension for insubordination, in school truancy, and failure to display a school ID. Zero Tolerance Policy at work again. Though it is not a productive policy, schools insist that it is necessary to create an appropriate environment.
A combustible mix of invisibility, powerlessness,and revenge, push schools, especially in urban centers, to zero tolerance behavior policies. According to the Center for Civil Rights of UCLA over one million middle and high school students were suspended during 2009-2010 for infractions that did not include violent behavior. Most suspensions came not in response to violent behavior but for infractions such as a dress code violation or lateness,

How Did We Get Here? School House 1.0
Punctuality, rigid uniformity, and obedience were melded daily into the curriculum to prepare a majority of students to take orders without question from a foreman in a plant or a manager in an office. Students were pre-fitted to submerge their voices, opinions, and power (compliant behavior) to teachers and other authority figures IN EXCHANGE for a PROSPEROUS way of life at the end of the high school rainbow. However, the sun has been switched off the industrial economic model and students no longer WILLINGLY comply. With their parents jobless, helpless, and sometimes hopeless, too often students have no audience for their own emotional turmoil. Sensing a dark destiny ahead of them, they hold no vision in their hearts or spirits of what life can be like because the old social contract no longer works. Emotionally homeless, students frequently respond in unacceptable ways.
And schools respond with Zero Tolerance Behavior Policies.

#school2jail #school2prison #schoolculture

Next Time Hallway 2.0