Beware the pipeline that really isn’t

I saw this as I enjoyed my morning coffee:

ARNEArne Duncan@arneduncan Jul 27Indiana working to reduce school suspensions and expulsions & challenge school to prison pipeline.

My first thought, after reading the article, was that it was nice to see something besides smug, non-educator references to “white suburban moms” and pontificating about what schools for the little people need to be doing to their children. My next thought was that we all should want to reduce suspensions and expulsions.

I also wondered when policy makers would speak out publicly against the highly praised and profiled charter school leaders that use exclusion/expulsion/ suspension (or “counseling out”) as a method to reach for great test scores and graduation rates.

But then a thought occurred to me: Boy, there sure has been an effort made to hammer that talking point; that “school to prison pipeline” thing, like: “If you go to school, you’re probably going to prison, ‘cuz they’ve made a pipeline for that, you know.”

Think of Ben Carson’s (I won’t put “Dr.” in front of it for this) suggestion that there is a prison to gay pipeline-which he wisely apologized forbut seriously…where do these people come from and who puts them on the stage and in the public eye?

The “school-to-prison” thing is simply more diversionary-if-not-ignorance narrative. Trying to overwhelm the public consciousness with so much silliness that a false causal relationship is accepted. Of course school is always a better place for students who might consider criminal activity as a good use of their time, but I wonder what inspires them to consider it to begin with, to take on that sort of values-system, and if it really is school that taught them and sent them on their way to that.

I’m sure we could better support schools in this crime prevention endeavor (as well as the 1,000 other things we expect them to fix for us), but it will take support-not the scapegoating type of reform inspired by current ed-administrations at the federal and the state level. Maybe there is are more essential moral and supportive elements eroding in society fostering a poverty-broken home to prison pipeline.

Maybe clever/lazy/cowardly politicians would rather blame and shame public schools and put them at the head of that “pipeline” in their narratives vs supporting them in and thanking them for acting as intervention and rescue. Our leaders are certainly wanting in their willingness to attack the conditions truly at the front end of that pipeline.

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