"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Study on School to Prison Pipeline from the Advancement Project

A new, virulent form of penal pedagogy has resulted from the punitive policies of high stakes testing, NCLB, and the capitulation of common sense to "zero tolerance" policies in schools. The pressure on teachers and administrators to produce test scores and total compliance has been a corrupting influence across the board, and it has led to a new horrid phenomenon of educators blaming students for not performing to impossible expectations. Now with the Gates and Broad plan to tie teacher tenure and promotion to test scores, we can expect a further deterioration of the teacher-student relationship that was once based on trust and care--and a further transition from educator to prison guard. Competition for top performing students will be even more fierce, and the pushing out of low performers will become even more severe.

The Press Release from the Advancement Project (download Report here):

Today, Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, released a first-of-its-kind report, “Test, Punish, and Push Out: How Zero Tolerance and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth into the School to Prison Pipeline.” The report shows that together, zero tolerance and high-stakes testing have turned schools into hostile and alienating environments for many youth, effectively treating them as dropouts-in-waiting.

“The educational opportunities of millions of children across this country are continuously put at risk by zero-tolerance school discipline and high-stakes testing,” said Jim Freeman, director of Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track project. “The devastating end result of these intertwined punitive policies is a ‘school-to-prison pipeline,’ in which huge numbers of students throughout the country are treated as if they are disposable, and are being routinely pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.”

“Test, Punish, and Push Out” provides an overview of zero-tolerance school discipline and high-stakes testing, how they relate to each other, how laws and policies such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have made school discipline even more punitive, and the risk faced if these devastating policies are not reformed. The report explores:

  • The common origins and ideological roots of zero tolerance and high-stakes testing;
  • The current state of zero-tolerance school discipline across the country, including local, state, and national data;
  • How high-stakes testing affects students, educators, and schools;
  • How zero tolerance and high-stakes testing have become mutually reinforcing, combining to push huge numbers of students out of school; and
  • Successful grassroots efforts to eliminate harmful discipline and testing practices.

Also in the report are detailed recommendations for replacing zero-tolerance and high-stakes testing policies with those that will allow all young people to receive a high-quality pre-K-12 education. Included are steps that can be taken at the local, state, and federal levels, such as through the reauthorization process of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) and the implementation of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “stimulus”).

“There is no easy answer to our nation’s ‘dropout crisis,’ but the one thing that absolutely must happen for this problem to be solved is for every student to be given a full and equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education,” concluded Freeman. We must eliminate the use of education policies that set students up to fail, and instead make a smart, long-term investment in our youth by creating a more just educational system for all children.”

1 comment:

  1. Judy Rabin2:05 PM

    The schools are a mirror of our society. Here's a glimpse into the future made worse by a right wing populist revolt. Not the revolt I was looking for.

    Published on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 by TomDispatch.com
    A Very American Coup: Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You
    by William Astore

    The wars in distant lands were always going to come home, but not this way.

    It's September 2016, year 15 of America's "Long War" against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing.

    Iraq is increasingly hostile to remaining occupation forces. Afghanistan is a riddle that remains unsolved: its army and police forces are untrustworthy, its government corrupt, and its tribal leaders unsympathetic to the vagaries of U.S. intervention. Since the Obama surge of 2010, a trillion more dollars have been devoted to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries in the vast shatter zone that is central Asia, without measurable returns; nothing, that is, except the prolongation of America's Great Recession, now entering its tenth year without a sustained recovery in sight.

    Disillusioned veterans are unable to find decent jobs in a crumbling economy. Scarred by the physical and psychological violence of war, fed up with the happy talk of duplicitous politicians who only speak of shared sacrifices, they begin to organize. Their motto: take America back.

    Meanwhile, a lame duck presidency, choking on foreign policy failures, finds itself attacked even for its putative successes. Health-care reform is now seen to have combined the inefficiency and inconsistency of government with the naked greed and exploitative talents of corporations. Medical rationing is a fact of life confronting anyone on the high side of 50. Presidential rhetoric that offered hope and change has lost all resonance. Mainstream media outlets are discredited and disintegrating, resulting in new levels of information anarchy.

    Protest, whether electronic or in the streets, has become more common -- and the protestors in those streets increasingly carry guns, though as yet armed violence is minimal. A panicked administration responds with overlapping executive orders and legislation that is widely perceived as an attack on basic freedoms.

    Tapping the frustration of protesters -- including a renascent and mainstreamed "tea bag" movement -- the former captains and sergeants, the ex-CIA operatives and out-of-work private mercenaries of the War on Terror take action. Conflict and confrontation they seek; laws and orders they increasingly ignore. As riot police are deployed in the streets, they face a grim choice: where to point their guns? Not at veterans, they decide, not at America's erstwhile heroes.

    A dwindling middle-class, still waving the flag and determined to keep its sliver-sized portion of the American dream, throws its support to the agitators. Wages shrinking, savings exhausted, bills rising, the sober middle can no longer hold. It vents its fear and rage by calling for a decisive leader and the overthrow of a can't-do Congress.

    Savvy members of traditional Washington elites are only too happy to oblige. They too crave order and can-do decisiveness -- on their terms. Where better to find that than in the ranks of America's most respected institution: the military?

    It Can Happen Here, Unless We Act

    Yes, it can happen here. In some ways, it's already happening.