Why would changing school discipline rank among the reforms recommended for a city where the most egregious injustice has played out in law enforcement and the court system? In a recent NPR story, Reverend Starsky Wilson, the co-chairman of the group of leaders known as the Ferguson Committee, explained:
The perception of our police is the same as many teachers who see young black men, particularly, as older than they actually are, as more dangerous than they present. And then they treat them differently with their use of consequences. So in the classroom, it’s out-of-school suspensions, and on the street, it’s extrajudicial killings.
That’s a stark statement, but the link between getting into trouble in and out of school is a reality for many students, so much so that people refer to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that moves students from school into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.