#MTBoS30- Day 16

Page 2…

Just 9% of students age 16 to 21 in such facilities were on track to earn a GED credential or high school diploma

Once again, reiterating this point is frustrating.  Our students ARE behind.  We provide them a full day of education, in order for them to “catch up” they will need to put in extra time to recover credits. (And no, we are NOT taking away elective classes like Robotics or Gym to allow students to do this- they NEED those types of classes in this setting to maintain stability.  I would go as far to say that our educational outlook on that is totally wrong that we do this in general education classes.  Students need variety, exploration, mental down time, physical activity.  Our push to get these students to “catch up” is another factor that compounds the problem.)  Please state the full status of why students are there and what their educational status is before you keep writing phrases in slightly different ways and continue to trash the system.

Nearly a third of the individuals in juvenile-justice facilities who were tested were diagnosed with learning disabilities, though fewer than 25% received special education services and supports to address those disabilities, according to the report.

Yet another false statement in regards to my building.  While the number of special education students is high in my school (> 50% in the NSDU), I am the only teacher in this building without a special education license.  We all constantly monitor, assess and provide interventions for our students.  They receive counseling and group meetings 3 times a week.  There is no case where our students are not receiving the services they need or are entitled to.

The report notes that students who had been suspended or expelled from school were more likely to enter a juvenile-justice program.

This is a general statement that has no bearing on our school, but is also logical for anyone who stops to consider today’s reality.  Students who are not in school are out hanging around home or their neighborhood.  While being expelled or suspended seems like a great early summer vacation, with talking to my students there is only so long that video games holds your attention.  They get bored and find things to do.  Those things to do are unsupervised since their parents still have to go to their jobs, and typically end up on some sort of law enforcement.  Society has changed in sensitivity as well,  what used to be viewed as “kids being kids” is not the case anymore.  There was a time when a kid broke a window, the parents would talk with the house owner and the child would work to pay and replace that window.  I am no longer that is the case anymore- law enforcement is called in every time.

In 2010, 2/3 of the young people in custody were youths of color: 41% African-Amderican, 22% Hispanic.  87% of youth in custody were male.

Wow @veganmathbeagle, there’s some numbers for your social injustice presentation.  For my situation: 57% are Native American, 8% African-American and 8% Hispanic.  With 70% currently male.  I have personally found the gender ratio to be very volatile, there have been many times where I only have one boy in class.  Our population is very heavy Native American- which is to be expected since our center sits near three reservations.  Once again, these percentages are beyond our school’s control- our population is dictated by the courts and center.

70 to 80% of all individuals who are released form residential juvenile-justice facilities will return to jail after 2 to 3 years.

Even though I have only worked here 2 years, I know how powerful this statistic is.  While I can not fully confirm this statistic, I do know I see return students very frequently.  This is due once again to their circumstances, not the center or it’s programs.  We do make an impact on students while they are here, but that can only last so long when these youths are returned to their home life.  They may change within these walls, but their situations do not change once they leave.  The 2-3 years is a strong testament to how much of a change we do make, that is a long time for teens to hold out against the peer pressure they receive once they go back home.  This statement goes far beyond these walls, to addressing society in general and making monument changes in our communities and family structures- of which we all still have to work to do.

The better we could get at keeping kids in the school in the first place, at bringing down suspension rates and improving discipline policies and practices the more likely kids will be to complete their high school degrees and find opportunities in post-secondary education, and less likely that they will land in the criminal-justice system in the first place.

This statement should resonate with anyone who reads it.  I am not sure exactly how to start on a rebuttal of this statement.  Since we do not deal with suspension, I will have to address this statement from the experiences of my old school.

Suspensions were not taken lightly.  Any of our suspensions in school were due to very serious circumstances (bringing weapons in school, physical aggression, etc.).  In those cases, our school system was not equipped to provide services to those students in order to prevent the situation.  Counseling services were the responsibility of the parents or guardians- of which most refused.  We did have a student counselor, but they were stretched to the extreme in the schools’ anti-bullying program.  They were used in small group settings, not individual services.

Improving discipline policies- that is also out of the teacher’s control.  Those guidelines are set by a committee and approved by the administration and school board.  The actual enforcement of those policies depend on administration.  Teachers did their part, they followed the guidelines, filled out paperwork.  When the hard line had to be drawn however, the power of the parents/guardian came to bear over the school system.  Administration would alter consequences depending on parental voice, and that voice was against the school, not supporting it in the vision of providing a safe environment for all students to be able to learn.  This is an issue that needs to be addressed, and I am unsure where to start.

The juvenile-justice system is not perfect, it has its challenges just as any school does.  It does not contain students incapable of learning, or teachers who treat the school as a day care.  There are many positive things going on in them, and many teachers who work as hard or harder than regular education staff.  Before you jump on any bandwagon, visit a center near you and talk with a teacher, I’m sure you will get a different vision than what was presented in this article.


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