I walked through the gated doors and was greeted by the school police officer. “Arms out, legs apart. You know the drill!” she yelled in a Spanish accent. It was a daily routine for us and our young middle school minds thought nothing of it. We didn’t know our uniforms would turn into jumpsuits and our teachers would turn into our parole officers. They conditioned us like prisoners. I don’t remember a day I didn’t hear “tuck your shirt in” or “get out of the hallway.” We were forced to walk in straight lines to our classrooms as if we were inmates walking to our cells. We were never treated as students because we never were. Our textbooks shackled us to the table and didn’t allow us to move. They claim they did this because they wanted us to succeed but how can you teach me to live the life of a prisoner but excel in the world of the “free?” Too many public schools in today’s society confuse “educate” with “discipline.” Instead of educating the youth they mold them into model inmates ready to be shipped off to next prison they build.
From the NY Times Article, School-to-Prison Pipeline, it talked about what criminalizing students can do to them “However, by criminalizing routine disciplinary problems, they have damaged the lives of many children by making them more likely to drop out and entangling them, sometimes permanently, in the criminal justice system.” By introducing a child to criminal justice system you entangle them into that lifestyle forever. Majority of these problems exist in inner city schools. All of these problem stemmed from the Zero tolerance policy. The Zero tolerance policy was introduced to all schools in the U.S. in 1994. What the policy does is require school officials to hand down specific, consistent, and harsh punishment to its students. This conditions students to live the life of a prisoner before they even commit a real crime.
From an article by Annette Fuentes she talks about the minor things children would be punished for “Disrupting class, using profanity, acting up on a school bus, truancy, and fighting in a school hallway can lead to a class C misdemeanor ticket and a court appearance for the student and her/his parent, plus court costs of up to $500.” Minor offenses like these put children in the criminal justice system, jeopardizing their future careers and virtually erasing their past, no matter how great it might have been. They punish children like this in inner city schools because they know they are more likely to be incarcerated. Approximately 12-13 % of Americans are African-American but they constitute 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population. Inner city schools are filled with minorities and they are conditioned to live the life they are expected to live. They prepare them for jumpsuits by correcting their uniforms and prepare them for sentencing with suspensions.
We should not have our school systems like prisons. This eventually affects them tremendously in the future, and we should not put our children through this. We should come together to end this issue and evolve our schools and our communities to make them safer instead of dangerous.
The Editorial Board. "The School-to-Prison Pipeline." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 May 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/opinion/new-york-citys-school-to-prison-pipeline.html>.Fuentes, Annette. "Arresting Development (1).pdf." Google Docs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.