Compassion for Unruly School Kids, Indifference for their Victims

In  the name of halting the “school to prison pipeline,” liberal legislators propose to take away an option — charging kids with disorderly conduct — that will make it more difficult to maintain discipline in school.

Bills filed by Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, would exempt students from a disorderly conduct charge if they misbehave at school or on a school bus. “Our students cannot learn if they’re being put out of school because of behavioral issues,” McClellan said last week at a Legislative Black Caucus press conference.

Reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, there were more than 7,000 disorderly conduct complaints made against Virginia children, according to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Three in five complaints came from police, with others coming from school resource officers and school officials.

Nearly two in three complaints from school officials or school resource officers were filed against black students – far greater than the percentage of black students in Virginia schools. The total number of complaints – not just disorderly conduct – made from school officials rose 7 percent between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 school years, according to DJJ.

“We’ve seen a criminalization of conduct that really should have been corrected,” Bourne said.

Researchers at Virginia Tech found in 2017 that black students account for 23 percent of Virginia’s student population, but half the referrals to juvenile courts from schools.

“That’s an unacceptable outcome,” Mullin said of the disproportionate number of black students referred to police.

Bacon’s bottom line: The justification for curtailing schools’ disciplinary options is based on the statistical discrepancy between the percentage of black students in schools and the percentage of black kids being punished. No one has cited instances in which disciplinary actions were unreasonable or racially motivated. No one has presented evidence to dispute the fact that black kids are more likely to be raised in poverty, less likely to have a father in the household, more likely to be subject to domestic neglect or abuse, and are more likely to “act out” in school as a result. No one has contested the fact that the reason that more black kids are disciplined is that more are committing infractions.

Conversely, liberal legislators have evinced no concern whatsoever about the kids whose educations are disrupted by misbehavior. No one has wondered if the victims of disrupted classrooms are disproportionately black, as they undoubtedly are. No one has made the connection between declining classroom discipline and declining SOL scores, especially among black students, over the past two years.

Furthermore, no one has remarked upon the fact that disorderly behavior has increased even as schools are under tremendous pressure to reduce the number of referrals to police and have replaced traditional policies with “restorative justice” practices. It seems to have occurred to no one that let’s-all-hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya disciplinary policies actually embolden the hard cases who perceive correctly that misbehavior incurs less risk of meaningful punishment.

By taking away a tool for dealing with the worst offenders, liberal legislators would make the job of school teachers and administrators all the more difficult. The biggest losers will be the black kids who come to school wanting to learn.

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16 responses to “Compassion for Unruly School Kids, Indifference for their Victims

  1. Beat you to it. Be interesting to see the answers I get as I sent it to all 3 of the people named.
    On 1/11/2019 9:42 PM, wrote:
    > Good morning,
    > 1) Can someone explain why we should think that a student wants to learn if they are misbehaving? What is the measured effect of disruption on other students’ learning? What happens when they have to go to the workforce and find out that “misbehaving” is grounds for firing? Have you set up a student for success when they aren’t having to accept consequences of their actions?
    > “Our students cannot learn if they’re being put out of school because of behavioral issues,” McClellan said Wednesday
    > 2) Can someone explain why these students misbehave if a parent doesn’t do their job and teach the child/young person how to act appropriately in an educational setting? How is sending a letter going to help? I see way too many parents who think the problem is the teacher or the school rather than their child.
    > “Nobody is saying disruption in the classroom is acceptable but it could be handled with a suspension or a letter to a parent,” said Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News

  2. From an earlier post of mine wherein Jim had said:

    “As legislators decide where to allocate scarce resources, they should address the problem at the source: horrible parents who abuse their children.”

    I replied: Yes, it is true that many of us parents (potentially all of us) are acting horribly toward our children today, over and under protecting them, failing to teach them right from wrong, and failing to teach them self reliance and how to hold themselves accountable. But we are failing to do this as parents, as teachers, as mentors and as adults throughout society.

    It is also true that this is bigger problem that it otherwise would be because all of us, especially our children, can run away from reality and hide in virtual reality. And it is also true that there is a breakdown of our society going on here, and it it happening from our children on up, BECAUSE OF US.

    THIS has to do with bad laws, a bad culture, and a bad attitude of democratic governance that fails to address our society’s real problems, but instead caters to and hides our society’s real problems, instead of squarely facing those problems head on, and by so doing setting an example for the rest of us, and encouraging us to get involved as citizens to fix our problems privately, voluntarily.

    For example, far too often when kids don’t learn, we falsely blame it on a kid’s disability, instead of a lack of discipline in school. That allows us to escape our own responsibility, blame it on a disease, thus making government more controlling, powerful, and indispensable in our lives, and allows government to spend ever more money and buy votes, building power for those few in control, while destroying the competence and independence of every one else in the society, starting with our own kids.

    We are creating a nation of dependent sheep ruled by our government. And doing it by creating a vicious complex system that literally is destroying the bodies, minds, and spirits of our children, one by one, every day.

    How and why is this happening?

    It is happening in many ways, including on all levels of education in this country. But for only one of the MANY EVIL THINGS we are doing to our children, consider how these numbers of disabled children SUDDENLY jumped up the charts so dramatically in 2014, sending kids frantically seeking medical and emotional attention, and special schools for disabled kid. To find one sure culprit for all this gross damage we are inflicting every day now on our kids, LOOK CAREFULLY AT THIS VIDEO:

  3. I find it truly amazing that head educators in the state have hired white supremacist teachers (huh who tend to be liberal women) who unjustly punish children of color (but somehow not the brown asian children who tend to be more successful than the white privelaged). This must be true if these issues are causing law changes due to the disproportionate outcomes against children of color (except again those pesky argument shattering asians… oh and Nigerian immigrants…). Shouldn’t we demand that those in charge of these districts where statistically poor outcomes for people of color be asked to publically explain their obvious institutional racism just like Trump?

    Again causation does not always equal correlation.

    I also wonder the same thing about the complaints against police departments like Richmond and Baltimore… did the black mayor hire the black police chief who hired and trained the white supremacist police officers?
    Never understood that.
    If the researchers said poor kids… not black kids I would see the argument much different than what I point out… but they go straight to color.

  4. Let me see if I get this straight. White privilege has created a plethora of dispair and hopelessness in America’s inner cities. More and more money must be committed to break the cycle of poverty, crime and addiction in those inner cities. However, if the children from those hoopeless and helpless inner cities misbehave more often than other children it is racism – pure and simple. There can be no possible explanation as to why children from the inner cities misbehave at a higher rate that other children.

    Liberalism truly is a mental disorder.

  5. “Disorderly conduct?” I do not understand the criminalization of bratty and bully behavior prone kids. Call the police when a student brings a weapon to school, or finds a pipe in the schoolyard and decks another kid with it … but 7,000 police charges within the school. Crazed!

    Certainly suspension is not the answer either … and a letter to the parent may, or probably may not, do much. But there are lots of other choices available to discipline an unruly kid and probably once won’t do the trick, other choices short of the police or an in house beating.

    Whatever they are … the rules need to be spelled out and punishment enforced consistently and evenly. Certainly there must be policies that work in other school systems. Certainly psychologists and behavioral professionals can come up with a program for a particular school to try, evaluate and fix until something works.

    • “I do not understand the criminalization of bratty and bully behavior prone kids.”

      Depends on whether the bullying is merely bratty or relies upon violence and intimidation. I’m sure that the practice of referring kids to the police has been overused and abused at times. But there’s also no question, in my mind at least, that when violence is involved that it’s entirely justified. Teachers and administrators should not be expected to deal with violent behavior.

      I’d like to see the details on those 7,000 police charges you refer to so we can judge for ourselves if the practice is being abused.

      • So where do you draw you violence line? … Kids hit each other and many have to be firmly told that won’t do. Is calling the police a better solution?
        Give them a juvie record and get them used to the process?

  6. I have the solution.
    First since marijuana is a-ok now, we pardon all the men of color serving time and restore the rights of those who served time for a weed offense since those typically disproportionately and unjustly damaged the community of color. Second we take those men and for free train them to become elementary school teachers and get rid of the bad mostly white women teachers who have unjustly persecuted children of color (as evidenced in the story). It’s a social justice slam dunk… plus there is not enough male diversity in elementary education and this must be due to misandry and not choice.
    In fact I believe there was a story in the Baltimore Sun that said children of color would be best educated by men of color.
    See how easy that was? On to the next one….
    We could take the female weed offenders and even sex workers and make them cops using a similar rationale…
    Oh my I may run in 2020 on the Dem ticket… I just need a catchy faux latino nickname…

  7. Well Jim I sent them a 2nd email and I’ll be sure to get their #’s and send something to their addresses (maybe even where they have to sign for the letters). Maybe I should send it in to some of these big name places (like Fox) and ask them to do a story on it.

    Take a look at the video here (and by the way, everyone on this knows about what you are receiving):

    video is at

    Explain this to me. So if the perps have rights in this video, and the kids NOT doing the harm are getting done, what about their rights and why are their rights to not violate other kids, to learn, being violated? Why are someones’ rights to be left alone ok to be violated when never in the history of anything before has physical violence been tolerated?

    Love to hear the answers, and yes, they’re going to get a copy of this letter so we know that you have to say that all child victims deserve relief.

    Vic Nicholls

  8. The problem that this legislation is addressing is the growing tendency to make misbehavior in school a criminal act. Arresting students and convicting them of Class 1 misdemeanors can result in a cascading series of problems later. Let me be clear; I am not talking about violent activities, such as assault. There are other laws that can be used to address those actions.
    In his post, Jim points out that “no one has cited instances in which disciplinary actions were unreasonable or racially motivated.” He goes on to posit that it is a “fact”, which no one has contested, that more black kids are disciplined because more are committing infractions.
    Ah, perhaps the patrons of the bills did not cite such instances or contest that “fact”, but others have done so. One review and summary of the literature on this subject had this conclusion: “In short, the data are consistent: there is simply no good evidence that racial differences in discipline are due to differences in rates or types of misbehavior by students of different races. “

    There have been numerous instances in which minor misbehavior, such as “talking back to the teacher” or throwing spitballs have been reasons students have been hauled off to court. If the school resource officers are there, they will be used.

    Doing away with the possibility of classifying misbehavior in school as a criminal offense does not mean that we have to turn the schools over to the students. Steven Teske, Chief Judge of the Clayton County Juvenile Court in Georgia, has received national attention for his initiative in dealing with school discipline problems. As described in “The American Conservative”:
    “In short, he coordinated with police and school officials to eliminate criminal charges for various minor offenses and develop alternatives to traditional disciplinary actions.
    The results speak for themselves. Arrests at the schools there decreased by 67 percent along with a 73 percent decrease in the number of weapons on campus. Consequently, the school system’s graduation rate increased.” ( I heard Judge Teske speak at a conference a couple of years ago. He is quite a dynamic personality and he made a good case for his program.)

    • I think you have hit on a primary problem as described in the RTD article today … ” If the school resource officers are there, they will be used.”

      And the program you cite sounds like the kind of reasonable alternative I think many would like to see. Maybe it would be a good idea to send that information to the GA, even to the legislators introducing the bill. It would make for a better discussion.

    • Thank you for injecting some reasonable fact-based realities into the discussion.

      Sometimes it seems like the Same folks who say we should reform the criminal justice system – then turn around and go right back to advocating policies that will make it every worse! Go figure!

  9. School resource officers (on-duty police officers assigned to specific schools) seems to me to be a good use of resources. They can and do develop relationships with students that can change the views of many as to the police-public issue. They also learn things about violence, drugs, weapons, etc. I suspect that they can defuse a lot of situations that can go bad fast.

    I struggle with the idea that teachers are quickly resorting to the law to handle situations that probably don’t need involvement with the legal system. I’m positive that there are overreactions and some involve black students. But most teachers I know and have known over the years, hang to the left side. I just don’t see them jumping to call the police for non-serious situations. There is a need to go deeper than the numbers. Some additional facts are seemingly missing.

    • TMT

      Your comment “School resource officers (on-duty police officers assigned to specific schools) seems to me to be a good use of resources” is right on the money.


      For the most part, these misbehaving kids lack strong fathers. These kids need strong father’s desperately. Only strong fathers (and strong father examples and images) can fix these the underlying causes of these behavioral problems. Thus school resource officers (on-duty police officers assigned to specific schools) need additional training so they can better fill the roll of strong fathers acting within the schools as well as enforcing discipline. Think here too of the incredible impact a strong athletic coach can have on kids.

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