US. Government offers recommendations to discipline to slow school-to-prison pipeline

Today the Feds will be issuing recommendations to stop the school-to-prison pipeline encouraging schools to deal with disciplinary infractions internally, rather than involving law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

The Government’s recommendation encourage schools to ensure that:

– school personnel are trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to de-escalate classroom disruptions.

– there are clear distinctions about the responsibilities of school security personnel.

– schools establish procedures on how to distinguish between disciplinary infractions appropriately handled by school officials compared with major threats to school safety.

We’ve been warning that the laws and rules being passed restricting the ability of teachers and people in direct contact with students to maintain a safe and effective learning environment would result in an increased use of law enforcement and perpetuation of the school-to-prison pipeline. Just look at NYC schools.

New York City Schools have a strict hands off policy for teachers. So rather than schools handling the behavior, law enforcement is called when students (including 5-year-olds) have behavioral issues or emotional meltdowns.

Teachers and school staff need to be trained how to manage a specialized population and need to act diligently and responsibly to ensure that the school is a safe and conducive learning environment. Relying solely on law enforcement and not having access to effective and safe behavior modification measures can create more risk for students and staff. Not intervening when a therapeutic response is called for is not so much prevention of restraint as it is an abdication of adult responsibility.

What is completely ironic is that the restraint-free movement, whose policies and ideology have necessitated the increased use of law enforcement are now calling the manifestations of their own policies¬†“inconsistent with any notion of how we should be dealing with children.”

In the words of¬†Education Secretary Arne Duncan, when it comes to routine discipline the “first instinct should not be to call 911 when there’s a problem.”