Dr. King’s dream was that little black boys and girls would be able to join hands with little white boys and girls as sisters and brothers. However, the black child in Texas is three times more likely to be sent to the juvenile justice system for the same crime as their white peers.

Our children of color are being pushed out of the classroom to the courtroom, from the principal to the judge — schools look more like prisons with police officers giving out tickets.

It is time to shine a spotlight on Texas’ zero tolerance policies in our schools.

In 2010, Texas school cops handed out 300,000 Class B misdemeanor tickets to children as young as 6. The majority of suspensions are for minor misbehavior such as “disruptive behavior,” “insubordination” or school fights.”

Nationally, African-Americans students and students with disabilities constitute 18 percent of students but they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once.

Recently, in Clear Creek Independent School District, a 13-year-old African-American boy was charged with criminal theft for not turning in library books properly, though the books were returned undamaged by the parents. The child was originally given 10 days in-school suspension and then, in the midst of that tenure, the school tacked on the charge of criminal theft and he was forced to report to the Texas Juvenile Justice facility in Texas City.

It is time to investigate punishment within our schools and ask the question, “Is it fair and equitable?”

The NAACP Dickinson-Bay Area Branch challenges persons of all races to visit the school district’s communication office and request a public information form; ask to know the current numbers based on race, age, gender and economics for children who were given in-school suspension referrals, charged with criminal conduct, suspended, given tickets and sent to alternative schools within the last three years within their school.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Wallace Jefferson’s scathing report on the school to prison pipeline in Texas sends alarming chills, particularly to the African-American community.

This report stands as a war cry that our Texas communities need to wake up and study how we can solve this epidemic together. Every child should be given a fair and equitable punishment — our democracy demands it.

We must offer mentorships, interventions, a discipline matrix policy for our students instead of expulsions and arrest. We have a responsibility to all of our children from the suburbs of the Bay Area to the trailer parks of our precious county.

If Texas continues to cut off social programs, after-school funding and faith-based programming, we are doomed to create a generation without hope. Our branch plans to host quarterly think tanks to forge partnerships to help ease the burdens for school administrators and to challenge Texas’ zero tolerance policies in our schools.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take all of us to investigate this injustice of inequitable punishment occurring in our Galveston County schools and across the state of Texas.

Lois Jones is president of the NAACP’s Dickinson-Bay Area Branch.

(21) comments

Lars Faltskog

OK, I shall open up some debate on this editorial. I might be "old school", but since when are "school fights" considered minor disruptions? If I were to envision a school that didn't have a handle on school fights by effectively punishing those who fight, then that school would send a message to the children that fighting receives little to no punishment/consequence.

I beg to differ that school fights are "minor". I can remember as a child witnessing, from time to time, the students who always seemed to manage to get into fights. On more than one occasion, the students came from the fight with bloody noses, bruises or contusions that reasonably needed to be treated by a nurse (then later by a doctor). One time, a girl had some of her hair pulled out.

My other debate falls into the simple numbers of referrals, in relation to the childrens' racial make-up. Don't we have, by now, most schools that are much more proportionately made up of Hispanics, African-Americans, and Mid East compositions? That would conclude that simply because there's more non-whites means that more of these non-whites get in "trouble". With less white kids, there's less possibility of them being carted off to alternative school or jail - because there's...uh, er...less of them.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Brilliant assessment of the situation. The author's singular grasp of the root cause and effect of children's public behavior is, no doubt, also proof of the advantage all American Society reaps from affirmative action, as well.

All African-American children, as a federally protected class, should be exempt from any type of discipline. It is only fair! Why should they be held to the same standards of behavior as the "oppressor class"?

Carlos Ponce

Old school - If two boys insist on fighting, let them, but give them over-sized gloves and protective helmets. But the "fight" is supervised by a coach/administrator with no other audience. Taking away their audience somehow takes the fight out of the boys. Too bad this is not PC and is no longer allowed. It works. The boys shake hands at the end and walk out. With huge gloves that they can barely hold up, no damage is done. I can hear the PC crowd now say "barbaric".

Matt Coulson

Lois Jones and the never take responsibility crowd are making the school discipline problem worse. The solution to the problem lies with the parents. These kids are being disruptive, and keep teachers from teaching. Forget what the school does, they should be more worried about their parents when they get home. Poor and disadvantaged kids have always made up a larger percentage of discipline problems ( read Oliver Twist, Little house on the prairie). Poor parents have a lot on their mind, and that pressure often distracts them from the hard frustrating time consuming work of parenting. Instead of using the play book of the many who have raised great kids in spite of these odds, Ms Jones wants to help keep them from becoming productive by making sure these problems aren't delt with in school, they can enter adulthood with these issues and end up unemployable or in jail. She is not doing these kids any favors. She is cutting their legs out from under them. That has been her organizations play book and look where it has goton us. Dr King would be horrified this is the opposite of his ideals and morals. Also this is a planed movement backed by disruptive groups like Texas Appleseed.

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 7:48 am on Fri, Mar 7, 2014:

In theory, the old school way of settling argument through gloved and planned/orchestrated fighting may be an option to "settle a dispute". I don't think it's the wisest choice - a child learning to negotiate and control anger might be better.

I think the fighting should be left to the organized sports of, let's say, boxing and wrestling. Those show a healthier outlet, and leaves the personal aspect out of it.

However, the gloved and planned fighting IS a safer alternative, but I see one major flaw: These "thug-in-the-making" children who like to settle scores though physical fighting want to hurt the other guy badly. So, to have a "safe" fight with gloves....well, those kids simply won't want to take that option. MIght I add that the fighting (in the physical sense) is done just as much, if not more, by the girls.

You can't imagine how many schooltime fights I saw between girls that ended up even worse than boy fights. There just has to be a better solution to fighting of any kind.

Carlos Ponce

As a student in the sixties and seventies and a teacher in the 70s to date I never saw a girl fight when the girls were wearing dresses. Girl fights began when dress codes were relaxed to allow girls to wear pants and shorts. Just an observation.
Dress code in the sixties: Girls will wear dresses at all times with the exception of a PE uniform to be worn during Physical Education period.

Lars Faltskog

Interesting observation. Then, girls AND boys should wear skirts and dresses. That will make fights a thing of the past.

Maybe everyone wearing skirts/dresses will greatly reduce class disruptions and disrespect. Then, the minority children (as well as the rest) will have less harsh punishments due to less infractions. Problem solved.

Although much of the above paragraph is in jest, it is true that having school uniforms has led to supporters' arguments that school uniforms equals better discipline/better school climate.

Samuel Collins III

I do not think bad behavior should go unpunished, but all students are not getting the same punishment for the same misbehavior. Children deserve second chances because we all make mistakes. The frustrating thing for me is seeing some (not all) non minorities receive lighter punishment for what sometimes seems like harsher crimes or behavior. Whether reading history about John Punch in 1640 or today's paper the conclusion is the same...the same act/crime was and is still not punished the same.


"It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take all of us to investigate this injustice of inequitable punishment occurring in our Galveston County schools and across the state of Texas."
Really? You are really serious? Ohh I've heard this catchy phase half my life,...and I have a question concerning it. "IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD"....where was the village when my parents were waylaying my behind with a razor strap?
Where was the village when my father had to work two jobs to put food on the table and a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs? Ohhh a village would have been nice back then,...but the truth is.. I SAW NO VILLAGE,...and I don't want to brag, but all my father's, children panned out pretty dog-gone good,..as did my own! Not one of them ended up getting kicked out of school, or arrested,...and all of them have degrees and certifications which have allowed them to do pretty well in this world!
So pleeeze!!! I'll tell you what is needed, and that is for somebody to get a grip on how GOD says a child should be raised or brought up in this twisted society,...and nothing is hard, mysterious or spooky about that!
I've discovered in my time that the problem in life is not finding an open door to walk through in one's quest for success, but rather taking the time and making the efforts to get QUALIFIED enough, TO WALK THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY, when one creeps silently up before you! Not having proper skills to walk through a door, will essentially and for all practicable purposes CLOSE that door of progression in your face! Then, we can always say it was the MAN'S........... ( society's) FAULT,...he closed that door on me because he did not like me! Go figure.

Lars Faltskog

It would be interesting to see an easy-accessible fact sheet that shows the race of the children and their infractions. And, even more importantly, the district to where the infractions originated.

Some districts have harsher penalties, I would imagine. Not only that, isn't all of this comparing amongst the diverse districts in the county? Seems as though Friendswood/Dickinson districts are way different than Galveston ISD and LaMarque.
How do minority discipline matters differ, pitted against white discipline matters in, let's say...Dickinson ISD?

Leon Lion

The NAACP should be concentrating on the family structure these children are subjected to more so then trying to point blame of misconduct and the consequences somewhere else.

It all starts at HOME with the parents. This is a problem for the most part that only the Black community will be able to correct.

Nothing will ever change as long as The Black Community dose not take on the real issues effecting their children. Stop the excuses, stop the blame games. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong and you alone are in control of your life.

You have sacrificed the last two generations with your own versions of racial hatred and prejudice that has been instilled in many of the Black youth today.

You need to start now to save the next.


Not just the NAACP,...but SOCIETY as a whole! The problem is as a national politician in this country said a year or so ago, "People have evolved!" That is the problem right there. We have evolved away from values, integrity, work ethics, and character building, our forefathers passed down to this generation! Unfortunately, the Word Of God has not evolved, nor changed!
Today, many would rather steal, even rob than to work! Many would rather lie when there is nothing to gain or lose! Many parents,...refuses to teach their children after righteousness, because they don't practice it themselves. It is said, that is better to give than to receive, but few believes that, because EVERYBODY, is poised to receive or to take, rather than to give back! Talent and knowledge aside are not enough, it is the character and integrity of a man which will help determine his destiny or destination in life,..because they control his decision making process! A man's DECISIONS determines his ACTIONS!
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God, endures forever!
----Isaiah 40:8.

Leon Lion

You sir are absolutely correct and I cannot find an argument with it.

Society as a whole bears some responsibility and all us need to do all we can to turn this tide.

What I was trying to convey was that the most influential groups would be groups normally associated with black youth. First and foremost their parents, secondary would be black ministerial associations, The NAACP and other organizations or groups of people of color such as successful community leaders, business owners, and police associations.

None of these groups will make much headway without also involving the parents. this will not be easy, as my grandmother use to tell me when I was faced with some difficult endeavor, 'its going to be a long row to hoe'.

The main thing everyone has to do however is leave the race card and their own prejudices behind.

There is another generation here now and another on the way.

Carlos Ponce

Agreed rukidden and Jbgood. May I add the best factor in predicting student success is not race nor economic status but family structure. A few months ago in another GDN forum I recommended what you both point out in your posts to improve the academic climate in La Marque and I was BLASTED by the others. If someone had only listened back then rather than ridicule and criticize....Again, I was just a voice, crying in the wilderness.

Matt Coulson

The NAACP is hurting the people it wants to help in this case. Even the moderate voices on this form are irritated by Ms Jones piece. We are a nation of laws. It is ILLEGAL to discriminate against anyone for racial reasons. It has also become one of the most hated acts in American society. Racism is not tolerated, and is socially unacceptable, if you are branded a racist you are finished as a politician, school teacher, movie star, or any public Bussiness . No other country has done more to right this wrong. The LEAGAL battle is over and established. The prison door of racism is standing open,walk out. There is a wonderful world of people and opportunities waiting for eager,hardworking nice folks. They are needed in our businesses, churches and government. Quit hurting your people and recive the blessing that so many have sacrificed to give you.

Walter Manuel

Very well said everyone!

We need to stop the blame game and looking for excuses to avoid the plain truth that some parents aren't doing their part in raising their own children any better than they are so then it becomes societies fault!

That's a bunch of weak hogwash and a simple excuse to the real work that it is going to take some parents to teach their children to learn discipline at home, school and out in society.

It's not about color that makes a defiant child, just look at the Caucasion white student up north who is asking a judge to order support from her parents just because she chose to leave home on her own because she couldn't follow curfew, house rules or anything else any other child would be expected while under their parents rules.

Stop with the color of skin crap that delegates the degree of discipline a child receives, the crime committed dictates the degree of punishment! Period!


GW Cornelius

It is all about the home and what children are taught there.

lois Jones

Racism seeks to ignore the facts of what even a retired Supreme Court Judge has said is quite alarming. The race card is an argument that race in American is a card game and that race can be taken off or on; in or out; and played and of course it is often said by those who don't even have to play the game. America was founded on checks and balances; that is what makes our country great. We need to make sure we are not repeating our racist past as a country. This is the first unchurched nation in America and we must, as good Christians help our community. We need to rethink how we deal with this generation. We are hurting them and we don't even realize it. What are we doing to help our community?


True,..very true! I hear some people talk about it taking a village to raise a child, well when the village steps in because the home failed,...people complain! See the police are part of that imaginary village they speak of!!! Police and authorities are not that papa or mama,... individuals chose not to listen to!
The police, district attorneys,..and judges are getting paid to teach individuals that other people have rights, and violation of those rights, or public laws will be costly to those individuals.
There are many adults who refuses to discipline their children and get offended when others, like school authorities, and law enforcement do it for them.
I had a convict who was sentenced to life in prison tell me that one time. He said he had no boundaries or curfews as a juvenile,... he could come and go as he pleased, do whatever he wanted, and his parents never intruded on him nor stepped in to correct him.
He went on to say, " now,...look at me!" "I'll accept my part of this, but....they bear responsibility too... for me being here!"
I've found that young people crave discipline or love restraint! I use to talk to hard- core gang members about life,...potential,and respect for parents,.... and they'd break down in my presence, and start crying like babies! Male and females! I'd go that extra mile to help them do something besides walk the streets and break the law!
I could find out stuff too....little birds would fly up near me and tip me off to certain events, or things which happened or which were about to happen. This is why I'm not buying what LMISD is selling!!!! I know better! What they have to deal with is child's play compared to the streets of Houston! I've dealt with much, much worse, and had success dealing with it! It's call getting out of the box, and being effective!
So what if you have to spend a few dollars buying a pair shoes for a kid on the street so he/she can go to school without being laughed at, or bailing one out, giving them a second chance? My job is to tear down what the enemy is building up,....and to seek and to save that which is lost! Having a silver tongue helps!!! I never aspired to make an impression on those who crossed my pathway in my careers, but instead, I sort to make a great impact on their aspirations,..visions, and abilities to move forth in their lives and/or professions!


My last post was in reference to Island Runner's post.

Chris Gimenez

Lots of generalities in this article but this is the tactic of the Excuse-Makers. Why did this individual lump children with disabilities in with blacks when coming up with disciplinary statistics? Why not look at the Blacks, the Whites, the Asian, and Hispanic children separately and then provide the data showing how many times the same child has disciplinary problems? What she doesn't provide data for is whether the same child is creating multiple disciplinary problems before his/her knuckles cracked. We all know that in the realm of data-garbage in is garbage out.

As long as Blacks continue to make excuses for behavioral and criminal actions for their children and adults then there really won't be a solution to the problem. But then again, listening to this woman and Sheila Jackson Lee, and Jesse Jackson, and Quanell and all the other race-baiters, it doesn't really appear they want a solution. It starts with the family and establishing a values system that is somewhat parallel to the rest of society. Hip-hop rappers, Kanye West thugs, the glorification of pregnancies by multiple partners who don't stick around to help raise their children, and the lack of respect for women and the norms of society have led to the current failures to reach the same levels of education, the dependency on entitlements, and the decline of Blacks when virtually every other race is making gains. At some point, Black leaders will have to stop blaming Whites, stop blaming successful Blacks for being Uncle Tom's because they espouse societal norms, stop blaming the education system in which everyone has the same opportunity to succeed, and to stop shirking the responsibility they have for changing the direction of Blacks in society if they truly want to enjoy the greatness of this country. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

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