1. Disciplinary Policies in School are often the first step. Zero tolerance policies in schools enforce a sever punishment and don’t take into account the so-called crime. We need only think about the girl sent to drug-rehab for having her birth control in her purse. Or the little boy who died on the playground because his inhaler had to be locked up in the school nurses office. What about the little boy suspended for bringing the 2 cm long gun. We are labeling a child as a criminal for breaking a pencil.
2. Schools have become increasingly overzealous in their arrest-making, since 2001 their has been a steady increase in school arrests. 25 students were arrested for a food fight (11 to 15). Also remember the 2011 case where a teen faced 8 years in jail for blow up doll prank. Morton was arrested for felony criminal mischief because he put a blow up doll in the girls restroom, the school was terrified, they saw a hooded person heading into a bathroom with a mysterious package, so they evacuated the school and it cost them 8000 (in the end Tyell’s case ended in a diversion agreement, and after a year of being squeaky clean, the charges were expunged). What about the numerous children who are becoming criminals because they took off too many days from school? The LAPD and school police ticketed thousands of students with $250.00 fines for being a few minutes late for school. You can read about it here.
3. Standardized testing has become a breeding ground for unfair practices. The rise of high stakes testing has incentive schools to push out low performing students. Schools have been caught “cheating” on the test. And now take a look at Common Core. A parent was "suspended" because she was overzealous on telling parents about opting their kids out. Read about it here: http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/south-sacramento/2014/04/03/common-core-gets-mom-suspended/7242709/.
4. The Juvenile Justice system is not focused on rehabilitation. Even one infraction or being part of the juvenile justice system has been shown to lower a child's chance to graduate from school. Even minor infraction can make it impossible to get funding for higher education.
5. Minorities and those with learning disabilities are at risk. We have a one size fits all. This can’t work, it doesn’t work. Some kids think clearer in the morning. Some work better in small groups, some in large groups, and some do much better on their own. Some kids learn at an earlier age, some at a later date. Some kids are good at math, but struggle in reading.
With that being said: It is hard to generate the exact reason for the school-to-prison pipeline, because really, there are so many. Some attribute it to the zero tolerance policies, many blame educators, others pushing out students who score lower on standardized tests. The reasons are plenty, but the solutions...This seems to be the real problem, because no one is talking about solutions! What do you think? How bad is the school-to-prison pipeline? What are the solutions?
My solution: Children should only be locked up for violent offenses, and really they should be put in a facility that is more like a "live-in" school. They get up, exercise, taught nutrition, reading, writing, art....This sounds frustrating to some, especially when you have a child killer...but I ask: Are you the same person you were when you were a child?
School Solution: Take out Zero-tolerance and restore Common Sense. Don't make rules so rigid and strict that you turn good kids into criminals for making a mistake. The following is a video I found interesting on the Zero-tolerance: