The School to Prison Pipeline: The Role of Culture and Discipline in School: Volume 4

Cover of The School to Prison Pipeline: The Role of Culture and Discipline in School

Table of contents

(12 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xi
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This introduction chapter provides context to the ubiquitous nature of school discipline disproportionality, which has morphed into what is now commonly known as school-to-prison pipeline (STPP). A sample of major studies on school discipline research is presented to highlight the breadth and depth of the impact of discipline disparity on racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. We also address how the interaction between implicit or explicit racism and discipline policies and practices exacerbates STPP. We acknowledge the efforts made by school systems to reverse the STPP trend through interventions such as restorative justice and positive behavioral intervention and support (PBIS). We posit that principals and teachers are critical agents in reforming the pervasive STPP trajectory. Finally, this chapter provides a synopsis of the rest of the chapters contained in this book.

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In this chapter, I present narratives of two Black men who represent a population of people who are often talked about but seldom heard from in school-to-prison pipeline research. To analyze their stories, I employed a framework that centers on understanding human dignity and the conditions, circumstances, and experiences that threatened it. I found that their sense of self was eroded by moments of personal loss, disposal, and ways that even well-intentioned people marked them as “problems.” I explore how their eroded sense of self led them to engage in disruptive and destructive behaviors. I conclude by discussing the importance of supplementing school-to-prison pipeline research with Black boys’ and men’s first-hand accounts of their own experiences as a way of humanizing the primary subjects of this burgeoning area of education research.

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The school-to-prison pipeline is a booming pipeline that is the cause for alarm. Increasingly, this pipeline includes more of Chicano males, and this dynamic is reflected in low rates of high school graduates going to college contrasted with the growing number of Chicanos in the juvenile justice and court systems. This study focuses on the impacts of the school-to-prison pipeline on Chicano students. Furthermore, utilizing a CRT and LatCrit framework, this study centers the experiential knowledge that Chicano students contribute to conceptualizing ways of disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Themes of this study include the following: (1) Chicano student experiences with the school-to-prison pipeline, (2) innovation of discipline policy and practice, and (3) effective alternative practices to a zero tolerance framework. Through this, Chicano students point to a praxis grounded in community to clear educational pathways and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.

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In this chapter, we argue that the growth of punitive school discipline in US schools has created an inequitable system of school punishment that is reflective of the development of the school-to-prison pipeline and the establishment of an educational “total institution.” Current school discipline practices negatively affect student academic growth in the classroom as a result of an increase in suspensions and expulsions. Data in this chapter exemplify the overreliance on punitive school discipline in one urban school to address behavioral issues and also further expand on the concept of school-to-prison pipeline using the “total institution” theory of command and control of a population proposed by Goffman (1961). We argue that there are more effective measures of school discipline and seek to provide alternate possibilities for school leaders to address the draconian treatment of Black and brown boys in today’s traditional public school environments.

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In terms of education attainment in the United Kingdom, the white working class remains the lowest performing ethnic group, and their academic underperformance has ominous implications for their long-term life chances. This chapter investigates how white working-class boys experience pathologization and deficit discourses in their schooling as they negotiate the discipline structures in three educational sites in South London (two state comprehensive schools and one Pupil Referral Unit). Drawing upon empirical data from an in-depth sociological study of 23 white working-class boys (Stahl, 2015), this chapter makes theoretical connections between how pathologization – both within the school and wider society – contributes to how these young men become constructed with and through deficit discourses contributing significantly toward low academic achievement. Where whiteness often equates to power and entitlement, in the schooling contexts of this study whiteness was often socially constructed as undesirable and equated with low aspirations, stagnation, and antieducational stances.

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School leaders seeking to implement restorative justice discipline practices in diverse urban schools have a series of subtle and crucial decisions to make that are omitted in the literature on alternatives to suspension. The current chapter examines one group of Black teachers from a larger study of schools using restorative practices. In interviews and observations, these teachers demonstrated Du Bois’s theory of Double Consciousness; they recognized both the institutional dynamics of the school’s discipline policy and the ways in which enactment of that policy ultimately replicated traditional racial inequality. They repeatedly challenged restorative theory and practices in terms of their relevance to students whose everyday reality involved police violence, community violence, and impoverished living conditions. While praising its potential as a foundation for communication and trust building, they perceived its implementation as a way to restore obedience for the student and restore order in the school. While stemming from one group of teachers in one school setting, my findings beg important questions for school leaders, researchers, and policymakers concerned with school discipline reform.

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In a multicase qualitative study, inclusive school leaders attempted to move their schools from the excessive use of suspension; they employed positive behavioral intervention and support (PBIS) as an alternative they thought would be therapeutic rather than punitive. However, the PBIS system traded a disciplinary system of control for a medicalized system of restoring order. Unwanted behavior came to be defined as evidence of possible behavioral disability. Hence, the PBIS system exchanged one deficit identity of “disorderly” student for another of “disordered” student, subsuming other considerations of race, class, and gender identity. Following the study’s findings, this chapter proposes more liberatory practices for PBIS that interrupt dominant culture discourses of normal behavior and power, and hold promise for establishing justice, rather than simply reinstating order.

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This chapter considers the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) within the United States as a network of flows and feedback loops that connects the education and delinquency systems. This system is heavily biased to funnel students with disabilities, disproportionately from low-income minority families, away from productive educational outcomes through punitive, exclusionary, and restrictive measures that too often result in incarceration. Congress intended special education and disability rights laws to ameliorate injustice and ensure long-term positive outcomes for all students. Through a systems theory perspective, this chapter outlines key leverage points inherent in disability rights laws, which can and should be activated to interrupt and reverse the STPP. Many provisions within the law are overlooked or inadequately enacted within current educational practices. The authors present problem-solving strategies, rooted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other disability rights laws, for educators, juvenile justice advocates, and policymakers to use in order to reduce school exclusion and incarceration of vulnerable youth and to provide education opportunity for all students.

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This chapter sums up the previous chapters beginning with personal life stories of how school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) disastrously affects the lives of students, most especially African American youth, Chicano youth, working-class students, and those with disabilities. From there we moved to the institutional level where the authors described factors in schools that contribute to the STPP. Also at the institutional level, contributing authors critically examined current approaches in schools, which were designed to help dismantle the STPP. Finally, from policy prospective the contributing authors explained how some existing policies could be used differently to disrupt the STPP. After each summary, we present bullet points suggesting what we (school stakeholders – leaders, faculty, etc., and policy makers) can do right now to disrupt the STPP.

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Index

Pages 209-215
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Cover of The School to Prison Pipeline: The Role of Culture and Discipline in School
DOI
10.1108/S2051-231720174
Publication date
2017-02-22
Book series
Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-128-6
eISBN
978-1-78560-128-6
Book series ISSN
2051-2317