For this Sunday's video I'm posting a short video of youth leader Edward Ward's testimony during the Senate's "School to Prison Pipeline" hearing convened by Senator Dick Durbin Wednesday afternoon. Ward is 20-years-old and the organization he represents, Blocks Together from Chicago, is a member of the Dignity in Schools campaign, which had a heavy presence at the hearing.
In addition to the video, I would point readers to a piece at EdWeek by Nirvi Shah, "Policies Proposed, Change Demanded to End 'School-to-Prison Pipeline'". Shah describes the hearing and discusses issues raised about the negative impact of excessive criminalization of youth misbehavior in schools, the negative impact of exclusionary policies like suspensions for even minor infractions, the disproportionate impact such policies have on minority youth, and suggested alternative policies which include restorative justice.
The following anecdote from the hearing, which Shah retells, really sticks out:
What could some of those best practices look like? Consider this scenario. A student at one Georgia high school was behaving violently, throwing chairs at a teacher, said Steven Teske, the chief judge in the juvenile court of Clayton County, Ga. Teske has worked with law enforcement and the school system on reducing the traffic to his courtroom, including through crisis-management training for school police officers.
"There was no doubt she has to be removed from the classroom," Teske said, but instead of handcuffing her, the officer led the student out of the class and talked with her for about two hours, helping her calm down. The student eventually broke down.
"She confessed her mom's live-in boyfriend has been raping her every week," Teske said. The girl was taken into protective custody and the boyfriend arrested.
A reader commented on this: "This does not require money, it is about a different approach - seeing our kids as human beings not as criminals."
See the full piece here.