The school-to-prison pipeline
Last month, we learned from a landmark Justice Center/Public Policy Research Institute report that 54 percent of Texas students received in-school suspension and 31 percent received out-of-school suspension at least once between their seventh- and twelfth-grade years. (The researchers looked at data from 2000 to 2008). This week, possibly joining the “gang up on Rick Perry before he becomes a serious threat to the world as we know it” movement, the Washington Post explains how this “no excuses” ethos plays out for kids in the Lone Star State. It seems that children as young as five are receiving “tickets” that require court appearances and may result in hefty fines, community-service hours, behavior-modification classes, and criminal records. The tickets (which connote Class C misdemeanors) come when students use offensive language, disrupt class, or tussle with another in the schoolyard. Unpaid fines can lead to an arrest warrant upon a student’s seventeenth birthday. Gadfly is all for effective school discipline, but please, let’s keep it out of the courts. Grown-ups do more than enough litigating and misbehaving and judges are not well-suited to settle playground tussles.
“Texas students sent from classroom to courtroom,” by Donna St. George, The Washington Post, August 21, 2011.
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