On the PBS NewsHour tonight, Early Punishments Can Have Lasting Impact for Some Students starts off with education Texas style and then offers a report by the Center for Public Integrity that demonstrates how this practice of dumping students and their parents into the criminal justice pipeline has spread to Los Angeles.
The report begins with an Honor Roll student who just spent 24 hours in jail for missing class because under Texas law ten unexcused absences in six months can warrant Criminal Class C Misdemeanor charges, fines up to $500 and potentially jail time. As "Zero Tolerance" has been extended to criminal punishment for attendance, the seventeen year old was spared further abuse because of national news coverage of her punishment.
After a student who is far more a victim of this harsh economy and the furthest from any normal person's definition of deserving jail time, the report touches on just a few of the students who were not scrutinized by the national media. Last year 330,000 non-traffic Class C [citations] were handled in the municipal and justice of the peace courts for juveniles, some of them were for disorderly conduct in the schoolroom. Some of these "criminal students" were as young as five years old.
There is also an interview with Deborah Fowler, who oversees Texas Appleseed's legal team. She talks about a report from December of 2011 Texas' School to Prison Pipeline, explains why the zero tolerance movement really began and how a child's exposure to the criminal justice system increases the odds of dropping out of school.
There is a story about a boy who fought back when another boy hit him. On top of the three day suspension and $350 fine may have a lifelong record to follow him around.
And because Texas adjudicates less serious “classroom cases” in municipal and justice of the peace courts – rather than in juvenile courts that attach confidentiality protections to the proceedings – the punishment likely won’t stop there for Rollins.The followup In Texas Schools, Parents Cited for Students' Misbehavior points to the fact that "special needs students and minorities, and particularly African Americans, are disproportionally ticketed." These reports are a very upsetting follow up to today's The One Comic That Explains Just How Screwed America Is.
He may have to list the conviction going forward on everything from college and job applications to the forms requesting a driver’s license with the state of Texas.