The featured image is of students expelled under zero-tolerance policies engaging in military training as punishment

 

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It was tougher to sponge it all up after I had talked to ‘Frank’ (we will call him Frank due to the sensitive nature of his family’s situation and the chord of fear that runs through ‘public’ Charter schools these days).  Frank’s story was about as exacting as trying to wrap ones’ head around the dis-occupation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, especially the not so subtle takeover of the New Orleans public school system by venture capitalists and charter school hucksters.  But the sickening patterns were and are the same.

As you will read, Frank’s eleven year old daughter was a victim of the vicious and social Darwinist policies of ‘Zero Tolerance’, as the doublespeak likes to call it.

In the 1990s, as mass school shootings became a reality and a media sensation, zero tolerance policies became a fad, much like torture did under George W. Bush. Unfortunately, zero-tolerance suspensions STAYED popular, owed to the war waged on youth and the low cost of simply turning children over to the US Gulag system instead of providing them with the help they need.  This and the whipping up of fear by politicians and corporate media working with the one percent, seek to assure that inequality becomes and remains the norm.

As background, I have written about charter schools for more than 14 years in various publications that include both electronic and written media.  I helped open a charter school for troubled adolescents on the border of Nogales and Mexico in 1995.  We thought we were doing the right thing at the time.  Yet after all the writing and work on charter schools, I came to the conclusion back in 2000, or perhaps earlier, that the creation of the charter school was and is an attempt to destroy public education while making a handful of hucksters rich and throwing youth under the bus of social desolation and misery.

A gaggle of ‘ubermensch’, which include the usual suspects: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other similarly situated ‘philanthro-pirates’ set out in the 1990’s and early 2000’s to aim their rifle sites on the $650 billion dollar industry that is now education.  With the help of think tanks and reactionary politicians, the plutocrats began in earnest, with No Child Left Behind passed in 2000, to target public schools for takeover and they have been very successful.  Using zero-tolerance policies has allowed them to demonize public schools, incarcerate youth, and engage in a totalitarian onslaught on what were once considered the future of America: its children.

You can read more of my work on charter schools by googling: ‘Danny Weil AND charter schools’.  You can also read the 650 page encyclopedia I penned in 2009, if your library exists anymore or carries it; it spells out in detail the use of charter schools and the attack on public schools and children by the elites.  The book also covers various charter schools in multitudes of cities, their crimes, their game plans and how they have worked to undermine public education by peddling a cruel hoax to unwitting parents fed on corporate news.

However, the case of Frank and his family, most notably his eleven year old daughter, is emblematic of the criminalization of childhood in general and the rigorous disposability of youth – especially very young youth who are mainly Black and Brown.

Frank, his daughter and the disastrous criminalization of youth

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On March 13, 2014 I was contacted by a man we will call ‘Frank’, to protect his identity and that of his daughter, who is eleven years old and in sixth grade.  Frank informed me that his daughter, Tamara, who I will also use an anonymous name, had been suspended for committing the crime of stealing an eraser and a necklace from a book fair held at her ‘charter school’ in Newark, New Jersey.  But not only was she suspended, she was given ten hours of community service and social probation for ¾ of a school year.  Tamara, acting on impulse, stole the items at the Book Fair held by parents to raise money for the school.

Tamara’s parents were immediately called to the school and told of the suspension and probation.  Frank is a sociology professor at a high school in Newark and his wife once worked at a charter school.  They were not about to take this lying down.

I asked Frank if he would agree to an interview by phone.  The interview was held on March 18, 2014 and Frank and his wife were shocked and angry over the way their daughter was treated in accordance with the schools zero-tolerance program.

When they arrived at the school they were told by the Dean that New Jersey has a city by city ‘penalty book’ that covers zero-tolerance, one that mandated the penalization of their daughter.  The ‘play book’ indicated that their daughter could be expelled for her actions.  They were also told that the incident would be recorded in the young girl’s ‘school file’ and that this file would follow their daughter throughout her life.  When they asked how this could happen, they were told by the Dean that the ‘penalty’ clause was agreed to by the parents, in writing, when they signed their child up for the charter school.  There was no hearing, no due process and little wiggle room to remove the penalties.

In fact, the Dean who applied the zero tolerance policy on Tamara stated in her report that:

Consequences:

  • If/when Tamara behaves impulsively:  She will be removed from class and meet with the Dean promptly.

 

  • If/when Tamara behaves impulsively a 2nd time:  She will be promptly removed from class to meet with the Dean and will be required to serve an Early Bird Work Session from 7:15 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

 

  • If/when Tamara behaves impulsively a 3rd time:  She will be promptly removed from class to meet with the Dean and will be required to serve a Saturday Work Session from 9am to 12pm.  In addition, Tamara will be required to meet regularly with an outside counselor whom we will assist in locating.

 

  • If/when Tamara continues to behave impulsively after this: She will receive additional consequences, and a meeting with the Dean and Tamara’s parents will be made to discuss a further plan of action” (Disciplinary Probation Plan: from the Newark Charter School)

Yet as Frank told me over the phone, none of these disciplinary procedures had anything to do with the actions of Tamara and the theft of items.  The report seemed to refer to inside class behavior when the issue that faced Tamara was the theft of an eraser and necklace.  The discipline plan had nothing to do with the theft.

Frank finally got a hold of another Dean at the school who agreed, stating that perhaps the first Dean had simply taken boilerplate language from the Disciplinary Plan mandated for the school.  Frank also argued that it was unfair for his daughter to have a lifelong record that followed her through her educational experience.

The Dean, one who was obviously reasonable, told Frank and his wife that Tamara would be forced to complete ten hours of community service and that the report would not stay in the young girl’s file. He agreed that the disciplinary plan cobbled together by the first Dean at the charter school was inappropriate.

I asked Frank and his wife about the incident that engulfed their daughter within the jaws of zero tolerance and they had this to say:

  1.  Charter schools in New Jersey expel students such as Tamara but due to a state law, if they wait a specific length of time the charter school gets to keep the FTE (Full time equivalent funds) and they do not have to give the monies back to the state.  As a result, charter schools in New Jersey cleverly wait until the legal time needed to keep the federal funds has passed.  They then expel students, throwing them into the jaws of the diminished public schools;
  2. Students expelled are thrown back into the regular public school with a record;
  3. Charter Management Organizations (CMO’s), like KIPP Charter and others then refuse to ever allow a child who has been the subject of zero-tolerance to ever enter into another charter school;
  4. All charter school enrollment as well as public enrollment is controlled through the same enrollment process by the state, thus guaranteeing that children marked with the hex of zero-tolerance can never enter public charter schools;
  5. Charter schools seek to cull students, especially those in special needs classes and students of color so test scores remain high;
  6. Charter schools have completely usurped the power of parents, teachers and students, leaving an autocratic system in place run by the Superintendent of Schools for New Jersey;
  7. Teachers and parents are not trusted, valued, or trained to handle discipline problems;
  8. There is no teacher protection and thus hurdling students into the pit of zero tolerance often is what teachers do to avoid poor test scores that they are told reflect on their ability to teach;
  9. Rote learning and lack of creativity causes much of the problems faced by students as boredom becomes the norm within the classroom;
  10. There is no creativity or problem solving at charter schools – only standards;
  11. Tax bases determine the quality of the school one attends and charters are filled through lotteries;
  12. Parents are lied to through propaganda, believing that charter schools are innovative private schools and an answer to failing and underfunded traditional public schools;
  13. In the high school where Frank teaches, there is far more authoritarianism than in the past, security is outsourced to private companies who seek to criminalize student behavior, walky talkies are used to monitor students, and in some NJ high schools metal detectors and turnstiles are used each day when students arrive to ‘learn’.

Tamara is simply one victim of the criminalization and disposability policies of New Jersey charter schools.  As we will see there are thousands and thousands more.

Although the New Jim Crow has assured that Black and Brown youth are to be the prime target of the financial capitalist plan to hijack education and assure that children not only do not receive an education, there are many children, regardless of class and race who do not live up to the harrowing standards of the reactionary financial class and their political matrons.  They are to be thrown into the abyss of social death through ‘zero tolerance’ programs that have been set up all around the nation.

Just what is Zero Tolerance?

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The National Association of School Psychologists has defined zero tolerance as:

“Zero Tolerance” initially was defined as consistently enforced suspension and expulsion policies in response to weapons, drugs and violent acts in the school setting. Over time, however, zero tolerance has come to refer to school or district-wide policies that mandate predetermined typically harsh consequences or punishments (such as suspension and expulsion) for a wide degree of rule violation. Most frequently, zero tolerance policies address drug, weapons, violence, smoking and school disruption in efforts to protect all students’ safety and maintain a school environment that is conducive to learning. Some teachers and administrators favor zero tolerance policies because they remove difficult students from school; administrators perceive zero tolerance policies as fast-acting interventions that send a clear, consistent message that certain behaviors are not acceptable in the school” (http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/zt_fs.aspx).

Yet this formal definition does not do justice to the crimes perpetrated on American’s youth.

Reporter Peter Cassidy, writing for Alternet in 2003 stated the case more firmly and in a way that exposes the Social Darwinism created and wielded by the elite to assure that students are not only seen as criminals, but that they become disposable within a system that no longer wishes to educate its young, preferring to masticate them through penal policies.

“A veritable Kindergulag has been erected around school children, making them subject to arbitrary curfews, physical searches, arbitrarily applied profiling schemes, and … random, suspicionless, Warrantless drug testing… If you’re a kid in the US today, martial law isn’t a civics class lecture unit.  It is a fact of life as the war on drugs, the war on violence and a nearly hysterical emphasis on safety have come to excuse the infliction of every kind of humiliation upon the young” (Cassidy, P. “Last Brick in the Kindergulag” (May 12, 2003). http://www.alternet.org/story/13616/last_brick_in_the_kindergulag

Yes, there is little doubt that police and drug sniffing dogs have now littered the educational landscape of many public schools, including charters.  While students are under the panoptic eye of administrators and private security companies more concerned about rooting out drugs and aiding and abetting incarceration than they are providing a ‘home for the mind’, drug testing is just one small part of the zero tolerance measures adopted throughout the nation.  The militarization of education along with the criminalization of youth is still in full swing with no signs of abating.

As John W. Whitehead said in his article Zero Tolerance Schools Discipline Without Wiggle Room:

“These policies, and the school administrators who relentlessly enforce them, render young people woefully ignorant of the rights they intrinsically possess as American citizens. What’s more, having failed to learn much in the way of civic education while in school, young people are being browbeaten into believing that they have no true rights and government authorities have total power and can violate constitutional rights whenever they see fit.

There’s an old axiom that what children learn in school today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow. As surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, America is on a fast track to raising up an Orwellian generation — one populated by compliant citizens accustomed to living in a police state and who march in lockstep to the dictates of the government. In other words, the schools are teaching our young people how to be obedient subjects in a totalitarian society” (ibid).

This is all part of the plan: to assure that disposable youth, youth who will never work due to the economic decisions of America’s elites, behave within the confines of a rabid police state hurdling towards fascism.  To this end, young people are treated as refugees or prisoners of war.

What were once considered minor infractions that could be handled by nurturing parents, social workers, teachers and administrators have for years been deemed criminal violations to be handled by private security and police, along with detention centers.  In this way the message is clear:  you have no civil liberties, you must follow the dictates of the authoritarian state or you will be the subject of state repression.

Consider some of the following zero tolerance policies that have been imposed on youth within the last ten years and even more recently.  The incidents are more than disturbing, they point to a nation that eats their own.  Kids are no longer an investment in the future they are problem that must be policed and eventually incarcerated.

Not attending class or boys turning off lights in a girl’s bathroom have all come under the canopy of zero tolerance as more and more youth, especially those of color, find that they have become targets for police harassment and administrative abandonment.

  1.  In Toledo, Ohio, a 14 year old student who refused to wear a bowling shirt over her low cut midriff top was handcuffed, put into a police car, and placed in a ‘detention center’ at the local Lucas County juvenile court house.  She was booked on a misdemeanor charge and placed in a holding cell for several hours until her mother, a thirty four year old vending machine technician, got off work and picked her up (Rimer, S :Unruly Students Facing Arrests, not Detention’. New York Times, January 4, 2004. P1).
  2. Recently in an elementary school in Pennsylvania, “an eight year old boy in a special education class was charged with disorderly conduct… for his behavior in a time out room: urinating on the floor’ throwing his shoes at the ceiling, and yelling at a teacher ‘Kids Rule” (ibid).
    1. Then there is the latest story from March of this year.  A sixth grader was suspended—and now faces expulsion—for taking a razor blade away from a classmate who was cutting himself.  Her school has a “zero tolerance” weapons policy.  After throwing away the blade and trying to talk the boy out of self-harming, Adrionna Harris told administrators at her Virginia Beach, Va. middle school what happened. She was rewarded with a 10-day suspension and a recommendation for expulsion.

If she had never told an adult that she held the razor blade, however briefly, she would have faced no punishment.

“I was shocked and surprised. I was very shocked that a student would get suspended for saving another child,” Rachael Harris, Adrionna’s mother, told local news station WAVY. “The school system over-reached absolutely” (http://gawker.com/sixth-grader-suspended-for-taking-self-harming-classmat-1547993490).

 

3.  On March 15, 2014 of this year in Buncombe County of North Carolina a 9-year-old boy was banned from bringing a My Little Pony bag to class because the items might prove too tempting for bullies, Fox 10TV reported.  Grayson Bruce’s mother, Noreen, told Fox that school officials asked that the bag be left at home because it’s a trigger for bullying. “Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying, is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape.  Its flawed logic, it doesn’t make any sense” (http://summerville.patch.com/groups/trending-in-america/p/bullied-boy-banned-from-bringing-little-pony-bag-to-school-because-its-too-tempting-for-bullies).

You can go to: http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/01/bad-kids-or-bad-system-zero-tolerance-policies-in-schools-2877846.html and see the video of children who have been lanced by the politics of despair and zero tolerance.  The carnage is astounding.  Black pre-schoolers are the most likely to be victims of the carceral state.

The Department of Education says they wish to stop zero-tolerance but facts prove otherwise.

Just this year the Department of Education in tandem with the Department of Justice found that nearly 25% students with disabilities have been suspended from schools, despite making up only 12% of school attendees.  In addition, the DOE’s research found that black students were being suspended three times as often as white students. The documents also point to the troubling rise of routine infractions being handed over to police officers, which has resulted in a steady stream of kids spending time in court, rather than in school.  The US Department of Education has issued guidelines aimed at rolling back zero tolerance policies, but the zero-tolerance policies continue unabated.

Despite the new ‘guidelines’ by the privatizers at the Department of Education just this week, March 2014, it was reported that zero tolerance programs are aimed at ‘pre-schoolers’: yes, that’s right they are suspending pre-K kids.  They have been for a long time; the corporate press just doesn’t report it.

Just take a look at the latest report from ABC News as to the thousands and thousands of pre-school kids who face the master’s lash of zero tolerance policies.  This is the AP report just released March 21, 20014:

“Even preschoolers are getting suspended from U.S. public schools — and they’re disproportionately black, a trend that continues up through the later grades.

Data to be released Friday by the Education Department’s civil rights arm finds that black children represent about 18 percent of children enrolled in preschool programs in schools, but almost half of the students suspended more than once. Six percent of the nation’s districts with preschools reported suspending at least one preschool child.

Advocates have long said that get-tough suspension and arrest policies in schools have contributed to a “school-to-prison” pipeline that snags minority students, but much of the emphasis has been on middle school and high school policies. This data shows the disparities starting in the youngest of children.

Nationally, one million children were served in public preschool programs, with about 60 percent of districts offering preschool during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the data. The data shows nearly 5,000 preschoolers suspended once. At least 2,500 were suspended more than once” (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/thousands-preschool-kids-face-suspension-22998808).

According to the on-line Zine, Wonkette:

“Today’s wrist-slitting Big Story from the Associated Press tells us that our nation’s educators are starting the school-to-prison pipeline even earlier than we thought, as SIX PERCENT of pre-schools report suspending at least one pre-school child. Naturally, as the Education Department’s civil rights division will report today, black children are disproportionately suspended. African-American children make up 18 percent of preschool students, but about half of the suspensions (http://wonkette.com/544658/zero-tolerance-suspensions-for-pre-k-are-racially-what-they-suspend-pre-k-kids11).

Hispanic children made up nearly one-third of all preschoolers, but they made up 25 percent of the preschoolers suspended once and 20 percent of preschoolers suspended more than once (http://news.yahoo.com/black-preschoolers-more-likely-face-suspension-070710508.html;_ylt=A0LEVw_ZgSxTukgAODel87UF;_ylu=X3oDMTBsNGZtMzU5BGNvbG8DYmYxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw-).  Black pre-schoolers are most likely to feel the penal pinch of zero-tolerance policies.

Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, said the findings are disturbing because the suspended preschoolers are unlikely to be presenting a danger, such as a teenager bringing a gun to school.

According to Losen:

“Almost none of these kids are kids that wouldn’t be better off with some support from educators. Just kicking them out of school is denying them access to educational opportunity at such a young age. Then, as they come in for kindergarten, they are just that much less prepared” (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/thousands-preschool-kids-face-suspension-22998808).

However, preparing children through critical education is not the job of schools.  In fact, assuring that children do not get an education is the hallmarks of the ‘core curriculum’ movement that the privatizers have been pushing and that has dummied down both school personnel and kids in ways intended by the elites.

Preparing students for critical involvement in education is the last thing that the capitalist class wants.  Educated people find oppression intolerable while those who know no better will accept their servitude without a whimper.

Disposable Youth

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As noted educator and writer, Henry Giroux wrote back in 2008:

“Youth within the last two decades are increasingly represented in the media as a source of trouble rather than as a resource for investing in the future and are increasingly treated as either a disposable population, cannon fodder for barbaric wars abroad, or defined as the source of most of society’s problems. As Lawrence Grossberg points out, “It has become common to think of kids as a threat to the existing social order and for kids to be blamed for the problems they experience. We slide from kids in trouble, kids have problems, and kids are threatened, to kids as trouble, kids as problems, and kids as threatening.” [5] While youth, particularly those of color, are increasingly associated in the media and by dominant politicians with a rising crime wave, what is really at stake in this discourse is a punishment wave, one that reveals a society that does not know how to address those social problems that undercut any viable sense of agency, possibility, and future for many young people. In spite of the fact that crime continues to decline among youth in the United States, the popular media still represents young people as violent and threatening. When youth are addressed in a more complex term they are either viewed merely as commodities, markets, or simply self-indulgent and irresponsible. Then again, in a society in which politicians and the marketplace can imagine youth only as either consumers, objects, or billboards to sell sexuality, beauty products, music, athletic gear, clothes, and a host of other products, it is not surprising that young people can be so easily misrepresented” (http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/81220:disposable-youth-in-a-suspect-society).

You can see the YouTube by Henry Giroux on this subject at: http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/disposable_youth_in_dark_times_20130313

The School to Prison Pipeline

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Fitting well with the politics of zero-tolerance and the disposability of youth is the phrase ‘school-to-prison-pipeline’.

The term “school-to-prison pipeline” is a phrase that is used by education reform activists and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (“School-to-Prison Pipeline”. ACLU. Retrieved 17 February 2012.), the Justice Policy Center, Advancement Project, (Wald, Johanna; Daniel Losen (16 May 2003). “DEFINING AND REDIRECTING A SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE”. School-to-Prison Pipeline Research Conference. Retrieved 05 May 2013.) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)(“School to Prison Pipeline toolkit” (pdf). New York Civil Liberties Union. 2007-10-16. Archived from the original on 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-06-17.) to describe what they view as a widespread pattern in the United States of pushing students, especially those who are already at a disadvantage, out of school and into the American criminal justice system.

They argue that this “pipeline” is the result of public institutions neglecting to properly address students as individuals who might need extra educational or social assistance, or being unable to do so because of staffing shortages or statutory mandates (The School-To-Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform, Catherine Y.Kim, Daniel J. Losen, Damon T. Hewitt). The resulting miseducation and mass incarceration are said to create a vicious circle for individuals and communities (Rethinking Schools (8 January 2012). “Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline”. Common Dreams.  February 17, 2012).

Zero tolerance policies aimed at youth work hand in hand with the school to prison pipeline.  One precedes the other.

In January of this year Al Jazeera News Service published the ‘school-to-prison pipeline in America by numbers.

(http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/1/23/school-to-prisonpipelineblackstudents.html).

Take some time to read the horrific data.

In one example, since the 1970’s, suspensions of black secndary school students have increased at 11 times the rate of white students (ibid).

Here is one example highlighted by Al Jazeera regarding how zero tolerance policies and the school to prison pipeline work in tandem.

Last May 16, 2013 a massive water balloon fight broke out at Enloe High School, part of the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina.  After a 911 call about the senior-day prank, the Raleigh Police Department dispatched 24 officers to restore order. The heightened security stemmed, in part, from the rumors that the balloons would be filled with urine and bleach. (Police and school officials would later say that there was no evidence of the balloons being filled with any substance other than water.)

In the end, eight Enloe students, all 16 to 17 years old, along with a parent, were arrested following events related to the water balloon fight.

Wake County Public Schools is in North Carolina where being arrested as a teenager has enormous consequences. It’s one of two states in the country that consider 16- and 17-year-olds to be adults when they are charged with a criminal offense and then deny them the chance to appeal for return to the juvenile system. The law means that misdemeanor charges stick on a child’s permanent record.

Jason Langberg is the supervising attorney at Advocates for Children’s Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. He said that Wake County has one of the largest school-to-prison pipelines in the country and that much of that is due to the county also having one of the highest long-term suspension rates in the state. His analysis of discipline data at Wake County schools found that more than 20,000 suspensions a year that last for up to 10 days.

According to Langberg:

“Just a few years ago in Wake County, over 1,000 kids a year were being suspended for the rest of the school year.  Over 1,000 kids a year told, ‘Get out. You’re on the streets. Come back next year” (http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/1/22/black-students-andtheschooltoprisonpipeline.html).

Summary

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The story of Frank’s daughter, Tamara is emblematic of what is going on in America today and the attack on children.  Not only are schools being transformed into centers of mis-education and instructional madness, the children that must go to these schools are learning either to become oppressors or accept their oppression by the reactionary state.

Part of the zero-tolerance and school-to-prison pipeline is also being used in an effort to force parents to pull their children out of public schools and home school them.  This is another way that public schools are demonized and works very well for such organizations as K12, Inc., a powerhouse in providing home schooling for parents.  Of course K12, Inc. gets the Full Time Equivalency (FTE) money from each state where they operate.  This further disembowels public schools and assures the decimation of education in favor of obedience training.

Add to this what I wrote about regarding the other element in the decimation of childhood back in August of 2012:

“The Milwaukee Common Council is expected to take up the issue within a week as to a proposed ordinance on whether any new elementary school approved in Milwaukee should include outdoor play space. Yes, while our children are savagely beaten down in the Dickensian landscape of high-stakes testing, zero-tolerance policies, school-to-prison pipelines, austerity measures that make the seedy and dangerous streets of American cities the sole source of recreation for many experiencing massive poverty and a sense of their own disposability, the city of Milwaukee is considering whether these children of Fagin should even have “yard time.” Schools are more and more beginning to resemble maximum-security prisons, but at least at most of those institutions, there is one hour of outdoor time” (http://truth-out.org/news/item/10752-schools-without-playgrounds-children-without-childhood-a-future-without-hope).

Everyone’s aware that children abound with energy — that they cannot sit still for long periods of time - nor should they. It is well recognized that their learning is captured in play, and that children need socialization and outdoor activities to stay healthy. Add to this the massive levels of child obesity, and even considering opposing a vote that would mandate schools be built with playgrounds seems like not only heaping cruel and unusual punishment on children, but also akin to social suicide, social death - or child abuse.

Shrinking recess time and schools without playgrounds are now becoming part of American schooling. The attack on child’s play is a growing phenomenon.

The rise of Reaganomics saw the defunding of schools, the closing of publicly funded recreational centers, and the elimination of social protections for kids, especially for marginalized youth of color. Once thought of as prospects for a bright future, children have now slowly morphed into either being considered little more than consumers in the marketplace or marked threats in the eyes of the public. Childhood has been replaced by adult bewilderment, rapaciousness, virulent immorality and greed.

This can all be considered part and parcel of the decades of war against youth. Youth expendability is now the norm as there are no jobs or simply low-paying jobs being created for future adults.

Outsourcing, automation, cyber-learning, zero-tolerance has all left a deracinated, futureless landscape of cultural and economic despair. Play time has now transgressed into penal time as the carceral state seeks to define more and more what it means to be a child – a mere criminal.

Meanwhile when it comes to zero-tolerance for bankers, financial hucksters, fraudsters, corrupt politicians and the rapacious one percent: not one banking criminal or sub-prime mortgage hustler has gone to jail.  There is no zero tolerance for the real criminals, those who run the financial capitalist sector.  Just take a look at New Jersey’s Chris Christie or John Corzine and the theft of MF Global and tell me that zero-tolerance works.

While Corzine gets off scot-free and the Governor fights off attacks that he is crooked, under the corrupt and criminal Christie Administration, a total of 50 schools have been approved for a charter, with 31 schools receiving final approval to open their doors.  There are currently 87 charter schools operating in New Jersey (http://www.state.nj.us/education/news/2014/0221chart.htm).

We can expect more and more horror stories regarding American youth as long as the real criminals are allowed to roam free without any threat of incarceration for their crimes.  Parents must follow the lead of Frank and his wife and fight the system that is demonizing their children.  When parents organize they have the power to change the monstrous policies that place their children on the conveyor belt to prison.