The school-to-prison pipeline

childrens' hands cuffed photo

Criminalize the kids
(Photo by Steven DePolo)

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
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.

students sent from classroom to courtroom
,” by Donna St. George, The Washington Post, August 21, 2011.