Better the Commonwealth Corps then the School to Prison Pipeline
Here is a quote from today’s Boston Globde:
A 13-YEAR-OLD girl was handcuffed and arrested at Brockton High School last June for wearing a T-shirt. The T-shirt, which she was asked by school officials to remove, bore the image of her ex-boyfriend, 14-year-old Marvin Constant, who had recently been killed in a Boston area shooting. The girl refused to remove the memorial shirt and was arrested for “causing a disturbance.”
In Texas, 14-year-old high school freshman, Shaquanda Cotton, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Her crime was pushing a hall monitor out of the way when she was stopped from entering a school building. The official charge was “assault on a public servant.”
You may think this is extreme or unusual. It is not. I was appointed an educational guardian for a girl facing prosecution for “causing a disturbance” and “assault”. Here are the facts.
This 13 year old was calling her mother on her cell phone at the guidance office. According to a so-called “504 accommodation”, this teen was supposed to call her mother when upset, as part of a preventative for her leaving the building and going AWOL or creating a disturbance.
Her family had recently been burned out of their home, with this 13-year old barely escaping, and one famly member still in a wheel chair.
She became upset due to peer taunting about her families circumstances. She went to the guidance office, but was told that she would have to wait because the phone was in use. She took out her cell phone instead to call her mother. The police duty officer in that school saw her take out the phone [in the guidance office, mind you]. He advanced on her and demanded the cell phone, backing her into a corner. She began to yell and scream and flail. She was arrested.
Her family is very poor; her mother delivers newspapers to make ends meet to assist in making rent, for example while this 13 year old watches siblings. However, while poor, they are hard working and try to stick together. She is, however, a candidate for the Commonwealth Corps.
Least you think her situation is unique:
Darius was only nine when he was locked up. For two months, he languished in a juvenile facility — alone, frightened. He missed his 10th birthday party. He missed Thanksgiving. He missed his stepfather’s funeral.
His offense: He had threatened a teacher with a plastic utensil.
Our teens and young adults need the opportunity to work, and to serve others. There are not enough such opportunities. For those who doubt the good will and positive energy in the Commonwealth Corps, why not go on in and become involved, rather than criticizing and contributing nothing?