Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

9Jun/140

How A Science Experiment Got A Student Arrested

African American students around the country are being steered along a path that pushes students out of schools and onto a pathway - a "pipeline" - characterized by increasingly punitive levels of involvement with the juvenile/criminal justice system.

To illustrate the point, The Advancement Project produced the short video below highlighting the recent experience of a high school student in Florida. Many of you likely heard and/or read about this tragic experience in Florida last year.

This is the story of Kiera Wilmot, who in her efforts to further her education, found herself caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline -- arrested for a science experiment due to unfair disciplinary policies run without reason or conscious. While Kiera was eventually allowed to return to school and will graduate from high school in June 2014, no student should have to go through what she went through just to explore her love of science.

While Kiera has since finished high school, she and her family continue to deal with the residual effects of the entire ordeal. While she was never officially charged, this episode remains on an official arrest record, which typically remains for 5 years. The family continues to push for changes so that she can finally move forward without any official record of this incident.

Note, however, that while it's outrageous that Kiera has to go through this, she's fortunate in many ways, as we have young people around the country who are targeted by these zero tolerance policies, and whose futures don't appear to be as promising.

This is precisely why we all have to more fully understand the nature and scope of these policies, and how they're being applied in our local schools and school systems.

20Dec/130

Is Harsh School Discipline Necessary? That’s Up for Debate

There's nothing wrong with our children. They are brilliant! When we give them the opportunity to develop their talents, skills, and more importantly their sense of place in this world, they amaze us every time. If you want to see our children and youth doing great things, then learn about the places and organizations that are doing great work, support them, and develop more opportunities like those.

The Baltimore Urban Debate League is one of those examples...

Every child should be able to dream big, yet we’re facing a discipline crisis in schools across the United States. Children should be placed on pathways to college and the careers of their dreams. Instead, too often they are pushed out of the classroom and into the juvenile justice system through the use of overly harsh school disciplinary policies.

 

As the Baltimore Urban Debate League has shown, solutions exist. We just need to take the time to identify and implement alternatives that give students needed support—and the chance to dream big.

Many thanks to Shawn Dove at the Open Society Institute's Campaign for Black Male Achievement for passing this along. And many thanks Judith Browne Dianis for her brief piece, and to the Baltimore Urban Debate League and The Advancement Project for the work they're doing.