Home > Uncategorized > Good Guys With Guns + Zero Tolerance + High Stakes Tests + Cuts to Social Services = Criminalization of Youths

Good Guys With Guns + Zero Tolerance + High Stakes Tests + Cuts to Social Services = Criminalization of Youths

December 1, 2018

Jacobin writer Alex Vitale describes the vicious circle of criminalization that results when school resource officers are placed in schools with zero tolerance policies, explaining in two concise sentences how the school-to-prison pipeline is constructed.

Young people continue to be criminalized in schools as well. Indeed, delinquency can be assigned to children beginning in toddlerhood — preschools routinely suspend pupils as young as three years old. The undermining of public education through high-stakes testing, cuts to support services, and privatization schemes has been combined with zero-tolerance discipline policies and an increasing number of school police.The result has been high levels of suspension, expulsions, and arrests, especially for students of color and those in special-education programs.

In those two sentences Mr. Vitale connects the dots showing how “reform” of public education as defined by NCLB and RTTT combined with the “hardening” of schools to “protect children” from intruders has created an environment where misconduct in school is criminalized. Worse, though, is the subtle message all children receive when they must pass through metal detectors, remain in a cocoon like campus for seven hours, and endlessly prepare for tests that they must pass if they hope to escape from their incarceration. Unsurprisingly, parents who see their children subjected to this kind of “schooling” long for something different, making the notion of “school choice” especially appealing.

Somewhat ironically and perversely, the only thing that could save the day for our children is the fact that the cost of creating and maintaining a fortress is higher than the cost of providing social service supports… and at some point the taxpayers will revolt and schools just might return to the open and inclusive bastions of democracy that were in place before good guys with guns and high stakes tests were introduced in the name of safety and accountability,

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