A recent article highlights the historical atrocities associated with the school-to-prison pipeline. It blames a new focus of the security resource officers as the primary contributing factor. The school-to-prison pipeline can be rendered ineffective when the primary focus becomes helping children rather than incarceration.
According to the article, The Development of the School-to-Prison pipeline, this new school-to-prison apparatus began with the Columbine massacre. On April 20, 1999, two teens, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a shooting spree at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide. The crime was the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and sparked debates over gun control laws, high school cliques, subcultures and bullying which resulted in an increased emphasis on school security with zero tolerance policies.
Schools have significantly increased their security measures since the 1999 Columbine massacre. Some of the common school security upgrades include:
- Metal detectors
- Security cameras
- ID badges
- Enforced dress codes
- Banned or see-through backpacks
- On-campus police officers
These often costly security measures have been the subject of much controversy, specifically over the rights of students and invasion of privacy.
Since the Columbine massacre students have had to say goodbye to some of their beloved privileges. Many schools have made the switch to mandatory school uniforms to decrease violence, theft and the prevention of the wearing of gang colors and insignia. In addition some schools have also done away with off campus lunches and have forced students to wear ID badges so faculty and police can keep a close eye on everyone.
The unintended result of the Columbine massacre has resulted in the production of the school-to-prison pipeline. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the school-to-prison pipeline. In part, the school-to-prison pipeline is a consequence of schools which criminalize minor disciplinary infractions via zero tolerance policies which are in turn enforced by a police presence.
It has been found that two groups, minorities and children with disabilities, are most likely to become participants of the school-to-prison-pipeline. African-American students are 3.5 times more likely than their White classmates to be suspended or expelled, according to a nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Black children constitute 18 percent of students, but they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, the Classroom Racism Exterminator, found the same challenge at his high school that he worked for as an assistant principal. He found that minority student suspensions were overrepresented at the school. The student suspension rate was 29%, 24.2%, and 25.4% for three academic years while the state average was 13.8%, 12.9%, and 15.3%, respectively. Black students account for 45% of the processed disciplinary infractions while accounting for only 33% of the student population.
After analyzing the student discipline data, Dr. Campbell found that teacher-student interactions accounted for 70% of the discipline referrals. The teaching staff was 95% White, and the student population was 93% minority. These racial dynamics were the source of the significant percentage of discipline referrals, indicating that teacher and student interactions needed improvement.
Dr. Campbell successfully implemented a process that promoted positive racial teacher-student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships) resulting in the teaching staff having decreases in open defiance (-29.8%) and disrespect towards a teacher (-3%) processed incidents.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President