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