Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PBS Travis Smiley Reports on "Education Under Arrest"

Travis Smiley Reports, American Graduate, “Education Under Arrest”., aired on WETA Tuesday night at 8 PM, link here
The one hour documentary examines the downstream consequences of school systems’ “zero tolerance” policies, which result in juveniles being locked up (or placed in “lockdown”) and learning the ways of prison life and culture even at ages under 12.  “Zero Tolerance” was motivated particularly by Columbine.

“Zero tolerance” effectively condemns kids to a life of crime by kicking them out of the system, the documentary maintains. 
The early part of the documentary did show kids in lockup, and showed how they learn the values of the criminal underworld in jail, even in the juveniles system.
Alternative schools (middle and high) offer an alternative to lockup in some communities.  One judge explained how this is one resource he can use because he is appointed, and not elected.   
There was particular attention to an alternative high school near Spokane, WA, and to explaining how an alternative high school system works.  A teacher said that most teachers and employees find it challenging to be drawn into the world of personal problems of the kids, including lack of health insurance, homelessness, pregnancy, drug use.  She challenged the idea, “These aren’t my kids and aren’t my problem”.
There was a case presented of a teenage girl disciplined when she was mistakenly identified for being at the scene of a fight when she wasn’t.  She said she is told she has to accept the authority of adults even when it isn’t always fair.  Her older sister cried with her.

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