Are urban cities public school systems a pipeline for prison? According to Detroit Fox News, on Thursday, January 10, 2019, around 10:30 am, a 14-year-old student walked into a classroom at Cody High School in Detroit, Michigan, and began assaulting a 63-year-old substitute teacher who also happens to be a grandmother. The reason for the attack, she alerted school officials and the boy’s father the day before the incident, that the young man smelled like marijuana and was being disrespectful. When the father asked his son why he assaulted her, his answer was, “she snitched on me.”
School behaviors in urban cities. Aggressive behaviors seem to be on the rise across the nation in the 21st-century classroom. According to a poll taken by the American Federation of Teachers, 21% of teachers in urban school districts lose on an average of 4 hours or more of instruction time per week in dealing with disruptive behaviors. The fact that school issues may lead to crime may be true. I want to share with you 3 reasons why I believe school to prison pipeline may be on the rise.
First, more schools are outsourcing more than ever before. With the rise of school shootings in the last 20 years, schools now have more resource police officers, which is a very good thing to deter unwanted behaviors. However, the flip side is that school administrators are now handing over disruptive behaviors (that the schools should be dealing with) to resource officers in connection with the juvenile detention and court system.
Brian Martinet wrote an article last December 2018, concerning Portland, Oregon’s school district in which 5,438 calls were made, resulting in 20 arrests. I do understand at times, it may be necessary to call for additional assistance in extreme cases. But for the remaining 5,418 cases, are teachers, administrators and school support staff not equipped to handle less violent behaviors? It is estimated that 68% of federal and state inmates do not have a high school diploma and may be on the rise if something is not done to stop this surge of violence in schools.
Secondly, students are dropping out as well as being pushed out. Students who drop out of school are 8 times more likely to end up in jail due to negative peer influences, boredom and lack of structure. Experts also suggest that students are being ” pushed out” due to lack of resources, educators not fully understanding the child’s home environment and unconditional positive regard for students. It is estimated that 63% of black and Latino students nationwide are affected by this concept. School detentions, suspensions, and expulsions are all formulas for the juvenile court system, alternative school settings, unstable communities or even death.
Finally, the role anti-social behavior play in all of this. Let’s face it, we are living in a world where social media has taken over. It is the #1 influence of adolescence behavior. Most kids lack good communication skills, interpersonal skills and cannot build appropriate relationships with adults. When it comes to education, some teachers are afraid of the students and the student’s parents. Some teachers are afraid to voice their opinions to school officials without being reprimanded, and some school officials are afraid to confront the student’s parents. But guess what? The child isn’t afraid of anyone in the home, community or at school.
With the lack of social skills, these kids have no consideration for authority figures or their peers which may cause harmful, intentional or negligent damage to society. Anti-social behavior may be overt, involving aggressive actions against siblings, peers, parents, teachers, or other adults, such as verbal abuse, bullying, and hitting; or covert, involving aggressive actions against property, such as theft, vandalism, and fire-setting.
The 14-year-old student mentioned earlier was arrested with multiple charges and detained at Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center in downtown Detroit. The substitute teacher was released from the hospital and is resting at home.
What can we do to help teachers?
1. Support our teacher’s rights by legislating local, county, state and federal laws.
2. Advocate for teacher and school safety.
3. Adopt a school and volunteer. A local organization in my area has recently adopted an urban middle school, hopefully, to begin mentoring the young men.