The K-12 Education System and the Juvenile Criminal Justice System

2021-05-18 03:57:16
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According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons CITATION Fed16 \l 1033  (Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2016), there are approximately 195,922 total inmates in American prisons. Statistics from the US Justice Department indicate that African Americans accounted for 37.8 percent of the total federal prison population. However, based on the 2011 US Census Bureau statistics, African Americans only comprise of 13.1 percent of the total US population. In 2010, black non-Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 4,347 inmates per 100,000 US residents of the same race and gender. White males were incarcerated at the rate of 678 inmates per 100,000 US residents. Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 1,755 inmates per 100,000 US residents (US Department of Justice, 2011)

Several studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between expectations and academic achievement for decades. Much of the research on expectations has focused specifically on African American male students. According to Ferguson (2003), achievement gap initiatives, teachers perceptions, expectations, and behaviors contribute to the test score gap between White and Black students.

Since 2004, the Schott Foundation for Public Education has tracked the graduation rates of African American males enrolled in public schools. According to their most recent findings, approximately 60.9 % of the African American males in the State of North Carolina graduated from High School during the school year 2012 - 2013. In comparison, approximately 77.3 % of the Caucasian males graduated during the same time periodCITATION Gam12 \l 1033 (The Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2015). Based upon these numbers, there is a gap of approximately 16.4 between the graduations of African American and Caucasian males. According to the same report, there is a gap of 20.7% nationally between African American and Caucasian males.

The report, which is released by the Schott foundation biannually, stated that in 2008 the African American male graduation rate was approximately 47 %.However, African Americans have made tremendous strides at reducing the gap in graduation rates by 3 % over nine years to a 26 % gapCITATION Gam12 \l 1033 (The Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2015). The CEO of the foundation postulated that it would take nearly 50 years for black males to graduate at the same rate as white males. This would be practically impossible for the country as no parents or students would wait for half a century to have the same opportunities, education, jobs as their white male counterparts.

In the context of education, expectations are the standards or the bar we set for others. Expectations are a factor in effort and outcomes. If a teacher holds high expectations, that teacher will seek to have students achieve those standards. If students have high expectations, they will make an effort to meet those standards. Conversely, low expectations discourage effort and achievement. In this regard, it is vital for African Americans to set high expectations and standards for their students as a means of increasing their graduation rates.

No matter what material resources are available, no matter what strategies districts use to allocate children to schools, and no matter how children are grouped for instruction, children spend their days in social interaction with teachers and other students CITATION Fer03 \l 1033 (Ferguson, 2003). As a result, developing collective measures targeting both students and teachers would be the most efficient in improving the graduating rates of African-American students. Such measures should entail reducing bad influence from other students that may lead to unacceptable behaviors such as violence, drug abuse and exacerbate the possibility of incarceration.

Purpose of Study

The rationale behind this study is to examine the Sui Generis (unique) relationship between the K-12 Education System and the juvenile criminal justice system in the State of North Carolina and the role that this relationship plays in the school -to-prison pipeline, specifically as it relates to African American male juveniles. In addition, this research aims to obtain unique insight from practitioners working in the juvenile criminal justice system for the purpose of developing further understanding, and ways to intercede and reverse this trend. This research begins by analyzing the graduation trends of African American students and reasons for the relatively low graduation rates compared with other races such as whites. By developing a relationship between the education system particularly African Americans graduation rates with their high incarceration rates in North Carolina, this research establishes recommendations of alleviating the high incarceration of African American males in the state.

Problem Statement

The School-to-Prison Pipeline is just one part of a system of laws, policies, attitudes, prejudices and social problems that result in an adverse condition in America. From this systematic perspective, any effort that works broadly to deconstruct the School-to-Prison Pipeline is welcomed. The high incarceration rates of African-Americans is palpable as already highlighted above. America has the highest prison population in the world majority being poor and blacks. The Department of Justice reports that there is approximately 2.2 million inmates in American prisons. There are various reasons that explain the high number of blacks in American prisons. From the police racially profiling and targeting blacks, to a war on drugs that target blacks, high referral of the black students to prisons, and high poverty and unemployment rates causing overreliance on public defenders. These factors have all contributed to the high incarceration rates of African Americans.

The high prison population of blacks poses moral, social and political problems to the country. It risks exacerbating racial tensions in the country and the growing income inequality. Besides, this situation is likely to increase poverty levels among the African Americans. Social problems such as crimes and prostitution will increase unabated. Due to the above challenges, reducing blacks incarceration rates by breaking the school-to-prison link is necessary. Lowering blacks incarceration rates should entail improving their graduation rates which will subsequently result in higher employment rates and low crime rates. Such measures will benefit the American society by not only reducing the federal prison spending, but also reducing poverty levels among African Americans.

Theoretical Framework

Paulo Freire (1970) states that dialogical pedagogy is an integral aspect of human nature, and that this immensely critical facet of the discourse between groups of individuals is indeed the essence of the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor. Freires dialogical pedagogy proffers a hearty and intuitive framework from which to cultivate a more harmonious methodology in the assignation of stratagems associated with the development of social movements. According to Freire, some educators engage in what he calls the, banking concept which is characterized by the teacher depositing information into the student, who is perceived to be a receptacle for receiving this data. Freire (1970) describes this concept as anti-dialogical, and is the absolute antithesis of dialogical. According to Freire, perpetual dialogue with others, is the process by which individuals create and recreate themselves; absent that dialogue, individuals become the product of the oppressor. Educators, according to Freire, should establish the environments for dialogue that encourages the epistemological curiosity of the learner for the purpose of inspiring free and critical learning. Freire vehemently believed that the goal of dialogic action is to divulge the truth through interacting with others and the world. Freires dialogic action theory differentiates between dialogical actions, which advance understanding, cultural creation, and liberation; and non-dialogic actions, which deny dialogue, distort communication, and reproduce power (Ward, 1994).

As in the case of the criminal justice system, where individuals are subjected to an extremely anti-dialogical environment, individuals are thoroughly immersed into a culture of oppression. According to Freire (1970), the absence of a revolutionary praxis, or in this case of this papers focus, a rehabilitative praxis, is contributory to the perpetual recidivism associated with the criminal justice system.

Freire states that, manipulation, sloganizing, "depositing," regimentation, and prescription cannot be components of revolutionary praxis, precisely because they are components of the praxis of domination (1970). In order to dominate, the dominator has no choice but to deny true praxis to the people, deny them the right to say their own word and think their own thoughts. He and she cannot act dialogically for to do so would mean either that they had relinquished their power to dominate and joined the cause of the oppressed, or had lost that power through miscalculation.

This symbiotic pedagogical relationship between the education system and the criminal justice system share a common theme wherein the absence of dialogical discourse is contributory to the perpetual conditions that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the theory, this anti-dialogical approach to education and incarceration is perpetuated upon individuals and groups that are highly susceptible to manipulation and oppression (Freire, 1970). This paper will attempt to identify the basic tenants of this relationship and explore the perspectives of African American males in the juvenile criminal justice system.

Conceptual Framework

According to Nohl the idea of education manifests itself throughout history as an independent cultural system alongside other cultural systems such as art, justice, economics and science. For Nohl, the essence of education lies in one's "attitude towards the subjective life of the child". Asserting the importance of wellbeing for the child being educated and standing up unconditionally for the right of a child to be educated is the essence of educational autonomy (Ward, 1994). Nohl describes the pedagogical relationship as "the loving relationship of a mature person with a 'developing' person, entered into for the sake of the child so that he can discover his own life and form" CITATION Noh57 \l 1033 (Nohl, 1957). In this definition a number of characteristics are mentioned which make this relationship into a relationship sui generis. Thus, Nohl speaks of a relationship between a 'mature person' and a 'developing person'; of a reserve of the adult towards the child because the adult wishes to help the child define what he (she) is withou...

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