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September 1, 2011
Vol. 69
No. 1

Double Take

Research Alert

School Behavior—Criminalized

Disrupting the classroom, using profanity, misbehaving on the bus, getting into a fight, or playing hooky once meant a trip to the principal's office. In Texas, it can result in a misdemeanor and a trip to the courthouse.
According to a recent report, Texas' School-to-Prison Pipeline: Ticketing, Arrest, and Use of Force in Schools, the growing presence of police officers in Texas schools has resulted in more ticketing charges for behavior problems that school officials used to handle. The practice of sending students to court is increasing their chances of entering the justice system.
  • Where a student attends school—not the nature of the offense—is the greater predictor of whether the student will be ticketed or arrested at school.
  • Black and Hispanic students are overrepresented in ticketing, school-based arrests, and use-of-force incidents at school.
  • It's not unusual for elementary school–age children, some under the age of 10, to receive misdemeanor tickets or even be arrested at school.
  • School police officers are armed with pepper spray, Tasers, guns, and canines—and they're using these on students.
Among its many recommendations, the report suggests that schools adopt schoolwide positive behavior supports; train school-based law enforcement personnel in issues specific to youth; prohibit ticketing students under the age of 14; and create or expand effective prevention and intervention programs, such as peer mediation and restorative practices, as alternatives to ticketing.
Texas' School-to-Prison Pipeline: Ticketing, Arrest, and Use of Force is the third in a series by social justice advocacy group Texas Appleseed. The series explores the effect of school disciplinary policies on school dropout rates and future involvement in the juvenile justice system. The report is available at

Relevant Reads

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks (Random House, 2011)
Through the story of one fictional couple—Harold and Erika—author David Brooks explores the "deeply social" nature of the human mind. Scientific research on the brain, he writes, tells us that character is not determined by reason and intellect alone. Rather, it's formed in the unconscious mind—the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms. As we look into the un conscious, we realize that social connections make us who we are.
Although the book deals only fleetingly with formal schooling, Brooks does have two suggestions for educators: School leaders should recognize that formal organizational structures are less important in determining school climate than are the complex personal relationships among students, and schools should place more emphasis on character education.
"Children are coached on how to jump through a thousand scholastic hoops. Yet by far the most important decisions they will make are about whom to marry and whom to befriend, what to love and what to despise, and how to control impulses. On these matters, they are almost entirely on their own."

World Spin

In Zurich, Switzerland, teachers are receiving a language handbook to ease communication with students' families. The book includes vocabulary and basic information about the 14 main languages immigrants to the area speak. One of three students in the area comes from a home in which a foreign language is spoken. The handbook, which includes chapters on Albanian, Portuguese, Thai, Tamil, and Turkish, will promote cooperation with parents.

Only Online

There's no better way to start the school year than by creating respectful, relationship-centered learning environments. Check out the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning ( for lots of information on how to integrate social and emotional skill development into students' school day.
You'll find a checklist that offers 24 effective classroom strategies for teaching and reinforcing social and emotional competencies ( Younger students will enjoy Emosocial, an engaging interactive online journal that helps kids explore feelings and establish positive relationships. You'll find dozens of video clips that show educators how to guide discussions on bullying or coach students on respectful communication, for example. To see how other states organize their learning standards for social and emotional learning, go to the "SEL in Your State" tab. The page also links to the social-emotional learning standards of Illinois, the first U.S. state to require all school districts to teach such skills.

Numbers of Note

63 The percentage of parents surveyed who chose "social problems and kids who misbehave" as the source of the most pressing problems facing their local high schools.
Source: Are We Beginning to See the Light? (2010). New York: Public Agenda. Retrieved from
40 Of 1,000 students, the number of students affected by violent incidents during the 2009–10 school year, as reported by U.S. middle schools.
Source: Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings from the School Survey on Crime and Safety, 2009–2010. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from
21 The percentage of 11- to 18-year-old students surveyed in 2010 who reported being a victim of cyberbullying.
19 The percentage of 11- to 18-year-old students surveyed in 2010 who reported being a cyberbully.
Source: Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from

Page Turner

"Educators who exclusively target peripheral, antisocial cliques as the engine of school violence may leave intact other groups that are more responsible for peer support of bullying."
Phillip Rodkin

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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