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Current Events: What is Happening with the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Updated: Nov 6, 2018

Even with the documented school-to-prison pipeline, students and schools are still enforcing policies that are perpetuating the problem. Social emotional learning, implicit bias training, and furthering community education should be considered in order to end damaging news coverage of this problem. Often news sources report a story without realizes the effects it will have on the community where its audience is located or how it is furthering a deeply ingrained idea of criminal society within the United States.


Current Event Number: Texas Schools Requiring Students to Watch "How To" be Pulled Over by Police

When I first watched a clip of the video that Texas high school students are required to watch in order to graduate, I tried to see the positive intentions. The point of the class is to lower the negative associations with police and let students be aware of the danger that police step into when pulling someone over. I understand that it is important for citizens to be respectful of police, but what I did not like about the video was the amount of bias it portrayed. The white actress seems to have the expression on her face that it is a joke and not a big deal. This video does not address the trauma or implicit bias that police may have when pulling someone over. It does not describe what rights a person has when they are pulled over: have to have probable cause to search a vehicle, can request another officer to be present, how it is a different procedure when one person is in the car without a passenger etc. Also, the video does not indicate that a driver should tell the officer where the license and registration are located before making quick movements within a vehicle. The officer in the clip also does not address how the girl used her phone when she was pulled over. I think this video also should have addressed how during the night time or day time the driver can pull over where they feel it is safe or shortly after a police officer puts their lights on behind them. I think that the dangers of not complying to putting your hands on the dashboard or wheel should also have been more explicitly stated. Police have fear and implicit bias sometimes that could result in the firing of a gun if they sense danger or it may seem as if the driver has a gun. I felt like this requirement for high schoolers places more blame on the citizens if they did not "comply" or use the information they learned in their class, rather than improving the officers’ implicit bias and training. I think this class is not really beneficial to students in the way in which the content and information is currently formatted. Instead, police relations with schools needs to be reformed.

Current Event Two: Valley Oak Elementary Student Arrested After Threatening Posts

Social media also seems to a platform in which students can make criminal mistakes that affect their schools and further perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline. The link above contains a news article and video detailing how a twelve-year-old girl in middle school made threats over social media. She threatened to kill nineteen other classmates at Valley Oak Elementary School. She created a post featuring the nineteen classmate's names on Instagram and was arrested. Now, the school district is saying that they will be spending more time teaching digital citizenship. I personally think an arrest for this type of behavior is a bit too much. I understand the danger she caused to the school, but I am wondering psychologically how she came to the reasoning that making threats over social media could be a safe or good idea. I do agree that schools need to teach digital citizenship, but I think this case seemed to exhibit a zero-tolerance policy which can further lead to the school-to-prison pipeline. I am wondering how social media charges really affect and change the behavior of students when using such platforms. I feel like the student needs to be analyzed further in order to determine the true reasoning behind the crime.

Current Event 3: An 8-year old is arrested after allegedly bringing a gun to elementary school

This short article details an incident where an eight-year-old brought a gun to school in his backpack and was arrested. In context, the student lives in an off-based military community and both of his parents carry guns. I personally feel that an eight-year-old does not have the mental capabilities to understand the dangers of a gun and the reasoning behind the fact that bringing a gun to school is dangerous. Also, the pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed until age twenty-five so it puzzles me that an eight-year-old can be held accountable for his actions with an arrest. If a student sees their parents bringing their guns to work every day, maybe the student was just copying their parents based on learned behavior. I think this article also relates to the idea that if you are a felon and are present in a house with firearms you can be arrested. Additionally, if you are driving a car and someone in the car has illegal drugs, then you as the driver can be charged even if you did not know about it.

Overall, I think there are a vast number of events still happening in schools in relation to the school-to-prison pipeline. Whether it has to do with police presence in schools and communities, social media threats, or student arrests, schools are still not helping stop criminal activity. Zero-tolerance policies and not giving students a chance to redeem themselves is further increasing the United States’ incarceration system. I still think Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and further educating students about being citizens is needed so that students can go to school to learn in a productive environment, rather than creating an unsafe environment that causes students to be arrested.

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