Zero tolerance policy creates a school-to-prison pipeline

New American Media interviews Annette Fuentes, author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes the Jail House.

Kids are supposed to make mistakes. Schools are supposed to be places where they are taught the right ways to behave and the right ways to interact with other kids and adults. So if we can’t use schools as a place to teach them how to behave, how to learn from their mistakes, then we have really failed them as a society.

Here in southern Utah, public schools are open, inviting, and unfenced whereas in urban areas like Los Angeles, they too often have high fences, harsh warning signs, and resemble minimum security prisons. It’s not just about guns either, as gun ownership in Utah is near-universal yet violence by guns is quite rare.

Marginal students, especially those of color, if expelled or suspended can too easily end up on the pipeline to prison, says Fuentes. So, no doubt, can the rebels or those who question authority. But those who rebel against a school-as-prison atmosphere are the healthy ones, the ones who don’t passively accept an obviously deranged system.

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