Discipline and Student Justice

In an environment where racialized students (i.e. black and brown) are disproportionately disciplined from their non-racialized peers AND discipline is impulsive and capricious, the perception of injustice ensues. It’s unfortunate, however, that in most cases, this perception is ignored. First it is ignored because power holders who have positionality are those who are usually benefactors of an unjust system. Just as we don’t allow organizations to audit themselves (singularly evaluating their own financial health), we shouldn’t depend on benefactors of oppression to evaluate if oppression is occurring. When we do, we get the inevitable. There is a denial of harm and, in some cases, there is an outrage that such an inquisition is underway.

Besides the fragile nature of the power holder, there is a second more salient, reason why the perception of injustice is ignored. It’s because students–our most prized data point– are pathologized; and thereby, their subjectivity is seen as a problem. Paulo Freire said to be human is to have a subjective experience. I’ve said many times before that a prime way to identify dehumanization is to pay attention to how one’s subjectivity is valued (or not). When we ignore the subjective experiences of students, we reduce their human status. We make it impossible for them to be data points for change.


This excerpt was taken from, “Let’s Talk About Discipline” To read the full text click here: https://wp.me/p4MtzN-iL.

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