Equity and Access Newsletter

Elementary Edition November 2018

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The School-To-Prison Pipeline

In the United States, the School-To-Prison Pipeline is the disproportionate tendency of minors and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to become incarcerated because of increasingly harsh school and municipal policies. The American Civil Liberties Union has declared that they are committed to challenging every aspect of this unjust system.

"Zero-tolerance" policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules and lead to students of color being funneled out of public schools and into juvenile and criminal systems. Many of these children have already suffered trauma in their lives. Some of them have learning disabilities, histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect and could use additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out of the school system.

Research shows this process begins as early as the third grade.

How can we as educators interrupt the School-To-Prison-Pipeline? Discipline with Dignity by Richard L Curwin offers some helpful strategies for working with students who face major life issues that put them at high risk for entering the School-To-Prison-Pipeline.

  • Provide a supportive relationship, a teachers concern, high expectation, and role modeling are critical protective features for reducing the likelihood of academic failure for students in difficult life situations. Schools can also build positive relationships between police and students by engaging visits to their classrooms.
  • Respect social and cultural differences, while teaching the behaviors needed for success at school, for example, physical fighting might be required to survive on the street, but it is not acceptable behavior at school and will lead to significant consequences. When teaching this principle, we must start with their strengths.
  • Provide help during and after school for students who need it, provided tutoring before and after school and make sure the students know that they are there for them.
  • Capitalize on the resources in the city; cities offer a variety of resources. The arts, businesses, parks, museums, and a multitude of people. Some children have never seen a cow or a field of food crops, expose them to new adventures with field trips. Bring the resources to your school if you can’t take the students out. Invite them to dream.
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What's In Your Tool Box?

Many U.S. cities with large, established ethnic enclaves have long sought to welcome newly arrived immigrants and their children. Small towns and cities like Springfield, Missouri have less experience identifying and meeting the needs and interests of new immigrants.

In linguistically diverse communities, parents whose primary language is not English may not be comfortable serving on PTA committees or other traditional engagement programs. But there are many ways in which these parents can participate;

  • Check-out books in the school library
  • Re-shelving library and classroom books
  • Work at annual events like book fairs, teacher appreciation day, etc.
  • Make photocopies for teachers or office personnel
  • Chaperone field trips or study hall
  • Planning and supervising classroom parties

Take time to reflect on what roles parent volunteers play in enhancing community connectedness and responsiveness in your classroom and at school. More importantly how might their voices factor into decision making about instruction, extracurricular activities, tutoring, nutrition, support services, etc.

The lack of communication could also be a hindrance to connecting with immigrant parents and guardians. Our word choices can assist or prevent necessary interaction with parents and students. The use of jargon and unidentified acronyms can impede effective teacher/parent communication. Most of all show kindness, cultural awareness, and patience.

Teaching Tolerance Volunteer Opportunities

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Did You Know?

Success is an iceberg made up of persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, dedication, hard work, and good habits. However, it takes a growth mindset to reach your goals. When you look at successful people, you only see the times when they were successful. But they had some failures too. They did not give up and kept trying till they reached their goal. Share the iceberg concept with your class and reinforce the rewards of a growth mindset. The growth mindset is the belief that our basic abilities develope through dedication and hard work and that our brains and talent is only the starting point. The growth mindset creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for accomplishing great things.

Book of The Month

In Almost Zero Dyamonde wants a red pair of high-top sneakers. However, the sneakers are very expensive. Dyamonde’s classmates tell her that it is her mother’s responsibility to give her whatever she wants.

Her mom teaches her a lesson by giving her only what she needs. Dyamonde gets down to almost zero outfits. But then she finds out one of her friends has it a lot worse, so she determines to do what she can to help.

Almost Zero is available in Springfield Public Schools Libraries

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