Jesse Taylor of Pandagon blogs about a real problem in America today: how it is that so many black kids, especially black males, end up in prison in our country; how it is that even among those who don't end up in prison, so many end up undereducated, underemployed, and poor.
I know pundits like to screech about their mothers, who breed too young, and the welfare state, bootstraps and like that.
But Zelda, who has been working on literacy in the Arkansas delta, and Jesse, an ACLU intern, both see the same thing: school systems that treat black children, especially black male children, like dangerous thugs from day one.
From Jesse's report:
The ACLU of Michigan prepared a report on this phenomenon, talking about the “school-to-prison pipeline” - the pattern of suspensions and punishment that lead to dropping out, and particularly to criminal activity. It’s uniquely dangerous for black males, because we’re so big and threatening from the age of nine onwards.
There’s a reason we don’t prescribe the death penalty for every crime. If you’re going to be put to death for stealing a loaf of bread, then you’re not going to be put to super death for mugging someone, or raping them, or killing them. It works the same way in schools - when almost every transgression is met with suspension or expulsion, teaching a kid that asking “Why?” when a teacher says stop is the same thing as bringing a gun to school is a great way to encourage a kid to bring a gun to school. Why would you have trust in a system that targets you for overwhelming punishment for almost anything you do, and lets others skate for the same actions?
I'll let Zelda post about her experiences down in the Delta; I'll just mention one thing she's told us in the writing group, how the black students, especially the young black males, get sent disporportionally to special education classes, not because they need to be in those classes, but because their (white) teachers decide that their black male students (at seven or eight years old) are too disruptive, too dangerous to have in a regular classroom.
They will also use the excuse that these students aren't reading and writing on-level, which many aren't, since they speak and write Black English. That the white student sitting next to them (who in the Arkansas Delta also generally speaks a version of Black English) also isn't reading writing on grade level doesn't get him put in Special Education classes, however.
After that, the black student stays in "the Resource Room," which usually, in Arkansas, is not actually funded, or badly funded, until he graduates, without having been taught much at all. But he's been kept out of the classroom: segregated.
(Correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong, Z. I'm working from memory!)
1 day ago