Is the Criminal Justice System Racist?

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to have a discussion about whether or not I thought the criminal justice system was racist. The subject was presented to me in the form of a question from a Black female administrator at a medium-sized university. The question was asked several days after a White police officer fatally shot a Black suspect, and the “usual” responses from the expected societal demographics were inundating the news media and social media.  I was attending a meeting with several other administrators who were also privy to the question. It was one of those “hallway” queries, and I am not sure if there was a motivating factor to the question or if she really wanted an answer. Either way, I did respond.

The criminal justice system is like a triangle. It has three sides: law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary. When you suggest the criminal justice system is racist, you are suggesting by direct inference that all three components of the system are working in concert to promote racism. These three legs of the triangle exist at both state and federal levels.

When you suggest that the criminal justice system is racist, you are implying that police departments are intentionally hiring racist cops — that each step in the selection process is designed to identify and “select in” these prejudiced cops. This means that the recruiting examination is designed to identify candidates who possess and demonstrate racist tendencies.  It means that the psychological evaluations are intended to identify candidates who possess and demonstrate racist tendencies and include these candidates in the selection process at the exclusion of candidates who do not possess such propensities. It means that the polygraph examination is designed to identify candidates who possess and demonstrate racist tendencies. This identification of racist candidates is done for the sole purpose of hiring racists cops. This is done with the explicit or implicit approval of the city council or city commission, the county commission, or, in the case of the state police/highway patrol, the state regulatory commission. All of these political entities have to be on board with the initiative to hire racist cops. If you believe this to be the case, then you are affirming that White police officers, Black police officers, Hispanic police officers, other minority police officers, female police officers, and male police officers are hired specifically because they demonstrate racist attitudes.

When you suggest the criminal justice system is racist, you are also suggesting that Federal law enforcement, including the FBI, the United States Secret Service, the Federal Department of Corrections, the ATF&E, the Border Patrol, and other Federal law enforcement agencies seek candidates, screen candidates, and appoint candidates with the sole purpose of promoting a racist agenda.  This would also include the appointments of the directors of these agencies and the promotions within these agencies.

The second side of the criminal justice system triangle is the judiciary.  If we assume that police officers are identified and selected because of their racist bent, then we must assume that judges also are elected due to their racist bent. The judiciary at the state level, whether it be county court, state court, the state court of appeals or the state supreme court are elected judges. What this means is the state political parties identify candidates for the judiciary that are clearly racist in their leanings. Both the Democratic and Republican political machines identify candidates who will actively incorporate and promote racist agendas in their judicial decisions. Then the candidates have to get elected. So, either the political machines include the racist agenda in the candidates’ platforms, or the political machines are so adept at political promotion that the candidates’ racist agendas never come to light. There is a third option, and that is the political machines believe the American electorate is so thoughtless as not to recognize the racist candidates for who they are and vote for them anyway. Either way, this seems to be a stretch.

The Federal judiciary is a different story.  The Federal judiciary, whether it be the Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court, are appointed positions. When a candidate is nominated by the President of the United States, an investigation is conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, the House Judiciary Committee conducts a hearing on the candidates qualifications, and if the candidate meets with the committee’s approval, there is a vote in the United States Senate to confirm the candidate. By suggesting the criminal justice system is racist, you are suggesting the Federal judiciary also holds to a racist agenda. Since these judicial appointments are made by the President of the United States, you are suggesting that all Presidents, including Barack Obama, made these appointments with the implicit and/or explicit purpose of promoting racism within the Federal judiciary. This further suggests that the members of the House Judiciary committee understand the nomination by the President as having racist overtones, and these members also support such a racist platform. It further suggests that the members of the United States Senate also understand the nomination by the President to have a racist bent and that the House Judiciary Committee supports the racist agenda by forwarding the nomination to the Senate. By a vote of confirmation, the Senate supports the lifetime appointment of a racist Federal judge. As prosecutors are an integral part of the criminal justice system, you understand that prosecutors at the state level and prosecutors at the Federal would be elected or appointed using the same racist profiling.

The third side of the criminal justice triangle is corrections. I think you can understand how the hiring process and the appointment process, at both the state and Federal levels, would have to work to promote a racist agenda in corrections.

My final comment to this question was answered as a former police colonel. There are approximately 800,000 police officers in the United States.  If the criminal justice system, in general, and policing, specifically, were truly racist, we would have eliminated you a long time ago.

Again, remember that my questioner was a well-educated individual. Her comment to me was priceless: “I never thought about that!”


Concealed Carry on Campus: Is This Much Ado About Nothing?

The typical anecdotal reaction to concealed carry on college campuses is the supposition that there will be mass shootings on every campus; that faculty will be at an increased risk; and that the classrooms will be like Tombstone on Saturday night. An article in the March 4, 2016 edition of  The Chronicle of Higher Education summarized suggestions from the president of the University of Houston’s Faculty Senate to the faculty on steps they should take to protect themselves in response to Texas’ concealed carry law.  These suggestions include the following: “be careful discussing sensitive topics,” “drop certain topics from your curriculum,” and “limit access to office hours.”

A review of the data does not support these anecdotal reactions and do not support the suggestions presented by the University of Houston’s Faculty Senate president. Colorado has had concealed carry on public university campuses beginning in 2003. The Breitbart News Network reports that the only campus incident involving a handgun was an accidental discharge by a faculty member (for which the faculty member was subsequently terminated).

A discussion about concealed carry on a college campus should begin with a few simple definitions. The FBI defines a mass shooting as one with three or more victims in the same incident. An active shooter situation is defined as a shooting where there are three or more victims in a confined area. Shootings in buildings on college campuses are defined as active shooting situations. Virginia Tech may be the most readily identifiable active shooting example on a college campus.

The FBI has designated 50 active shooting situations in the U.S. in 2016 and 2017. It is important to note the timeframes of the FBI report.  Regarding the FBI reports, in an active shooter situation one victim is wounded every 15 seconds.  During the Virginia Tech shooting, however, one victim was wounded every 10.3 seconds.

Active Shooter Statistics

50 designated active shooting situation in 2016 and 2017

34% occurred at a business environment

14% occurred in an educational environment

100% involved a single shooter

22% of shooters committed suicide at the scene

22% were killed by law enforcement

16% were stopped by citizens

FBI: Active Shooter Incidents in the United states in 2016 and 2017 (04/2018).

There are approximately 13 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States.  Only .0002266% of these permit holders have perpetrated an active shooting. The Crime Prevention Research Center reports that from October, 1987 to May, 2014, Florida issued 2.64 million concealed carry permits.  During that time, 168 (.0006%) permits were revoked for a firearms violation. The most common reason for the revocation was carrying a weapon in a gun-free zone.  This is an annual revocation rate of .0002%. Compare this to police officer involved firearms violations from January, 2005 through December, 2007 which was .007%. This percentage difference reflects that police officers commit firearms violations at a higher rate than do concealed carry permit holders.

A very frequent response to legalizing concealed carry on a college campus is the presence of trained police officers. The only time police officers are factors in active shooting situations is when they are very near the shooting scene.  Approximately 70% of the shooting situations are over before the police arrive, so the police are non-factors in these events. The general perception is that police officers are highly trained and proficient with their firearms. In fact, not all police officers are proficient with a hand gun. And not all police officers are well trained. Ohio requires police officers to qualify one time per year and the total rounds fired during qualification is 25. The longest distance police officers in Ohio are required to fire for qualification is 50 feet. Not all police officers like to shoot and therefore, they do very little to no practicing outside of departmentally sponsored qualifications. On the other hand, individuals who have concealed carry permits have them for a variety of reasons: some for self-protection, some for protection of family, and some for other concerns.  One overriding characteristic of concealed carry individuals is that they like handguns. They like recreational shooting, they like training, they like to increase their proficiency. As a result of these likes, concealed carry permit holders practice to be proficient.

At this time in our society, it is naive to think there are not handguns in college classrooms across the U.S. with or without the benefit of concealed carry permits. Citizens with concealed carry permits do not commit gun violations.  Statistically, they commit less gun violations than do police officers. Considering the response time of the police, a concealed weapon may be the only difference between a potential victim and a victim. One final thought: the March 23, 2016 edition of The Chronicle published an article examining the connection between engineering programs and terrorism, yet there has been no uproar suggesting that because of this link, universities terminate engineering programs on college campuses.

What is a Well Regulated Militia?

I have been a member of the National Rifle Association off and on for about 40 years. I would let my membership expire periodically because of philosophical differences, then I would renew my membership for the same reasons. While I do like my handguns and do support the 2ndAmendment, I am by no means a fanatic. I like to shoot and have shot for a long time. I do carry a concealed weapon as per the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act. I carry it for my protection.  There has been a lot of discussionregarding the 2ndAmendment, particularly when there is an event that focuses on guns: owning guns and using guns. Hopefully, I can add to the discussion in a meaningful way.

It has never been the government’s responsibility to protect the citizenry. As a matter of fact, it is the citizenry’s responsibility to protect themselves, primarily from an oppressive government. This was a founding premise of the 2ndAmendment. The 2ndAmendment to the United States Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”Second Amendment discussions seem to focus on the definition of the term, “well regulated.”Well regulated by whom or what seems to be the crux of any 2ndAmendment conversation.

To get a clear understanding of what the Founding Fathers intended when the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was ratified,we need to re-examine the political climate of the time. The colonies ended an armed revolution from a tyrannical English government in 1776. England attempted to impose the Crown will by using the most powerful and highly trained standing army of the time. The Founding Fathers did not want the centralized power to lie with theFederal Government. The Founding Fathers constructed a Constitution that guaranteed the right of the citizenry to “keep and bear arms” as a check and balance on the standing army which the Constitution gave the Congress the power to “raise and support.” In addition, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was included as an additional level of protection for individual private rights. These Amendments were designed to be a series of “shall nots,” telling the government again, in no uncertain terms, where it could not tread.  “In keeping with the intent and purpose of the Bill of Rights, both of declaring individual rights and proscribing the powers of the national government, the use and meaning of the term ‘Militia’ in the Second Amendment, which needs to be ‘well Regulated,’ helps explain what ‘well regulated’ meant.  When the Constitution was ratified, the Framers unanimously believed that the ‘militia’ included all of the peoplecapable of bearing arms” (Emphasis added). A “well regulated” militia was a check and balance against a tyrannical government seeking to use the military to keep the populace oppressed.1

So let’s fast forward to today. We, as a society, have put the burden for our existence onthe government in an increasing fashion. We continue, in an ever increasing amount, to expect the government to provide for us. The government has attempted to accept this increased burden. My question is this: What is the government’s level of success?

The War on Drugs clearly has been an epic failure. The results of the War on Drugs is eerily similar to the results of Prohibition. Prohibition imbedded organized crime intothis country and the War on Drugs, likewise, has embedded drug cartels and gangs into our nation. Neither the Volstead Act nor the plethora of legislations enacted to control drugs has had the desired effect. One unintended consequence of these two epic failures has been the demonstrated propensity for the use of violence. The police, clearly, have not been able effectively to address these issues and the military is expressly prohibited from being used in these circumstances.  The Posse Comitatus Act clearly stipulates that, “it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress.”2

A recent phenomenon is the increased number of mass shootings. We have experienced mass shootings in our schools, our churches, our theaters, and at concerts. Our police officers have been targeted for murder just for wearing the uniform. These brave defenders of “We the People” are themselves becoming targets and victims.

Let’s get one thing straight: it is not the job of the police to protect you. I know that on the side of some cruisers it says, “To protect and serve!”, but the reality is, if the police cannot protect themselves, how do you expect them to protect you? If the police were effective at protecting the people they serve, the murder rate would be zero because the police would be there to stop such crimes! There would be no traffic accidents because the police would be there to intervene prior. There would be no “drunk drivers” because the police would be there to keep make sure the intoxicated individualsdid not get behind the wheels of their respective vehicles. Policing has always been and always will be reactive–something happens, and the police respond. So where does that leave us: the citizenry who are unintended victims (or maybe intended victims) of random and not-so-random violence; the silent majority who go about their everyday existence, but due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, don’t get to go home; the victimized citizenry, who, if they are lucky enough to survive a violent encounter, must wait for the police to respond? This leaves us exactly where it always leaves us, being responsible for our own protection and our own survival.

The 2ndAmendment stipulates that “We the People” must provide for our own protection. Again, when the Constitution was ratified, the Framers unanimously believed that the “militia” included all of the peoplecapable of bearing arms” (Emphasis added). We all are capable of bearing arms, with limited exception. We all are members of the militia as designed and incorporated in the 2ndAmendment. Maybe what we need is less legislation attempting to skew the language of the Constitution and more enforcement of the Constitution as written.

As Mr. Schultz so eloquently stated, “It is an absolute truism that law-abiding, armed citizens pose no threat to other law-abiding citizens. The Framers’ writings show they also believed this. As we have seen, the Framers understood that ‘well regulated’ militias, that is, armed citizens, ready to form militias that would be well trained, self-regulated and disciplined, would pose no threat to their fellow citizens, but would, indeed, help to ‘insure domestic Tranquility’ and ‘provide for the common defense.’”1

1 Daniel J. Schultz, The Second Amendment: The Framer’s Intentions. (

2 The Posse Comitatus Act. (18 U.S.C. § 1385).



Arming our Educators, Part III

How does this balance with the mindset of a teacher? Teachers teach. Their mindset is in the classroom. It is not a mindset of survival. Classroom survival is not the same as situational awareness and confrontational armed survival. When I say survival, I am not talking about surviving an administrative investigation, I mean survival ‘in the going home at the end of the day’ aspect. Preparation to address an active shooter It is not as easy as meeting the firearms qualifications at the local police department. Recently, a teacher from Stoneman Douglass high school (the sight of a recent school shooting) was arrested for leaving his Glock in a bathroom stall. A drunk found the weapon and fired it to see if it was loaded. This is exactly what I mean when discussing the difference between a police mindset and a concealed carry mindset.


This does not even address the budgetary considerations. There are training costs, not just going to the range and qualifying, but the cost of training a teacher on how to respond to an active shooter. Who will provide this training? Who will determine the qualifications for the trainers? There will be time involved for the teachers.  Will this time to train be part of their work day or extra-curricular? Who will determine the type of weapon the teachers carry? Will they be owned by the school or individually owned? What happens when the budget get tight and reductions are made? Training is usually one of the first categories cut. You can see this when looking at your local police department budget. If a school system has the budget to properly select, train, and arm teachers, why not use off-duty police officers?


A major consideration is the selection of the teachers. The selection clearly will come from a pool of teachers willing to take on this responsibility. Will the school require a psychological evaluation, as do police departments? Why does the teacher want the job? Is it for the extra money, a John Wayne complex? What skill-set will be required for a teacher to be considered? These are all considerations that will directly affect the selection of proper teachers and address the liability issues. Police departments can be held liable for situations where police officers shoot and hit an innocent bystander. A school would have the same liability issues if a teacher shoots and misses their target but hits a student. Departments are subject to liability for negligent failure to train as well as negligent hiring. These liability issues will equally apply to schools and school systems. What are the collateral insurance costs?


There are a host of considerations involved when deciding to arm teachers.  I have only touched on a couple. While the knee-jerk reaction is to allow teachers with concealed carry permits to carry guns to protect our children, there are a host of considerations and maybe better alternatives. It is easy to say you would take the shot or stop the shooter while sitting in your lounge chair. The reality is totally different.

Arming our Educators, Part II

There are numerous differences between police officers and armed teachers. Police officers possess a police mindset. They have a working personality. This personality is a survival mindset and it is with them 24 hours a day. When they walk into a room, the first thing they do is scan the room, observe who is there, look for exits, find a seat close to an exit and facing the room.  When they walk with their significant other, they keep the other on their off-hand side. They do this so they can react to a potential threat when it is presented. This is second nature to officers. Most of the time they don’t think about it, it just happens. I still sweep my house a couple times a week just for the practice. For police officers, It is a price of doing business


Police officers use visualization as part of their survival mindset. When they catch a call, they visualize how they may need to respond. Mentally, they will ‘respond’ to a variety of contingencies. This prepares them in the event something unexpected happens. They will use a similar exercise prior to making a traffic stop. It is an if…then scenario.  If the driver does this, then I will do this. If the driver exits the vehicle, how will I respond? If the driver runs…. All this mental preparation helps the officer survive. This is not something that can be taught, it is developed. It is something that each officer develops based on his or her personal assessment and experiences and each officer is different.


Police officers carry a weapon for defensive purposes. They use the weapon to protect themselves or others when there is an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury. It is like body armor; it is for their protection. Officers that carry a back-up weapon have it for an extra layer of protection. Police officers do not carry a weapon for offensive purposes, unless there is a specific need such as SWAT or CRT. These require specialize training. Generally, these specialize units require a higher physical conditioning, very intensive training, and training with a team concept. Active shooter training changed the dynamic. This lesson was learned from the Virginia Tech shootings. Officers waited outside until the SWAT team responded, all the while listening to Seung-Hui Cho continue to shoot victims. This demonstrated the need to change the police response. The training protocol changed from waiting for SWAT to respond, to now, single entries; first officer to arrive is the first officer in. This is a complete change of mindset for the responding officers, a very different mental preparation.

Part III to follow

Arming our Educators

There is a growing movement in this country to arm teachers in our schools as a response to the recent bevy of school shootings. The thought process seems to be that teachers are in the school, some may be willing to carry a weapon and respond, and this could serve as a first line of defense. This would reduce the response time an active shooter. Teachers just need to meet the firearms qualification standard of the police department and they are ready to go. This may appear to be a reasonable response, but is it really? Is it the best response? Will arming teachers address the issues or create a whole new set of problems?

Armed teachers will not be police officers in the building. They will be someone with a concealed weapon. It is a mistake to assume that a little firearms training can make a teacher an effective active shooter first responder. How many times have you heard or said, “I could have hit that jumper?” or “I could have made that tackle!” or “if I was there, I could have stopped that shooting.” all from the comfort of your couch. Be careful this is not the mindset and the thought process used to make the decision on whether teachers should be armed.

A current trend in the thought process of arming teachers is to have them meet the qualification requirements of the local police department. A review of several state qualification courses (clearly not all states) exposes several common characteristics. Shooting distances are generally between nine feet to fifty feet. Number of shots range from thirty-six to fifty. There are magazine exchanges. The targets don’t move and neither do the officers. Several states do require the officer take a flanking step. I actually passed Ohio’s police officer qualification course with my eyes close. These are not firearms training courses. These are qualification courses. They test the firearms proficiency of the officer.  These are not combat courses, officer survival courses, nor do they offer any tactics. All of which are taught to officers in the basic academy and in advanced in-service training. For those who entertain the idea of using teachers with concealed carry permits, the qualification requirements to obtain a CCW are generally less than the qualification requirements for the police department.

Part II to follow

Attack on our Youth, part III

My experience tells me that students entering college are woefully ill prepared for college-level academics.  Recent statistics suggest that we have an 84% graduation rate in the U.S. When was the last time a high school student in this country failed a grade? I could make the argument that a high school diploma in nothing more than a participation award.  Again, I am NOT targeting the dedicated teachers and administrators across this country.  I am taking exception to the politicians and the political process that continually devalues our public education.

What happened to vocational education in high schools? As educational budgets were cut, vocational education took a hit. Vocational education now seems to be housed in the post-graduate profit arena. A student must graduate and then apply and pay for vocational education. Every high school student should not go to college, even though that seems to be the K-12 mantra. A 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics report suggests that 69.7% of high school graduates go to college.  A 2015 NBC report indicates about 50% of college freshmen graduate. This suggests to me that there are a substantial number of entering college freshmen who are unprepared for college. What, exactly, are our high school graduates prepared to do when they graduate? What skill set have they attained?

Ask yourself if your U.S. Congresspersons or U.S. Senators send their children to your public schools. And if they don’t, why not? The funding and oversight of our public educational system is in the hands of people who don’t use it. Just like the healthcare system. Had our political leaders been required to participate in the healthcare program they passed, it would have been passed very quickly and would have been much more comprehensive. This is no different than our educational system. These systems are being driven my non-participants.

How can we fix the educational problems in this country? Tie education to the crime rate! For as long as I can remember, and I was born in 1954, in virtually every state and national election, a plank in each party’s political platform has been crime. Even though, until recently, the violent crime rate in the U.S. has dropped every year, crime has remained a very focal position during the electoral process. No politician wants to be labeled “soft on crime.” Just look at what happened to Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election. Willie Horton, a convicted felon, was a participant in the Massachusetts furlough program. While on furlough, Horton committed an assault, armed robbery and a rape.  The Bush campaign ran ads depicting Dukakis as “soft on crime.”  The result was a landslide victory for George H.W. Bush. This was not the only reason Dukakis lost the election, but what people remember is Dukakis let Willie Horton out of prison and look what happened.

Funding, on the state and federal levels, is a legislative process. Any legislator who votes against strengthening our education system should be asked why he/she is soft on crime.

Thomas Jefferson said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people!” Educated citizens have life options that uneducated citizens do not possess. Let’s fix our education system and reduce our crime rate!


The Attack on our Youth, part II

Crime rates are directly proportional to dropout rates. The higher the dropout rate, the higher the crime rate. Of the students in the 50 largest U.S. cities, 41% drop out. The American Psychological Association reported in 2012 that 75% of crimes committed in the U.S. are committed by high school dropouts. When there are no opportunities to meet economic goals through legitimate means, the only means left to meet these goals are illegitimate.  Education improves human capital. Human capital generally refers to the knowledge, skills, and talents an individual possesses. This human capital is what makes an individual employable. Those with a higher human capital value will secure the better jobs. Those with little or no human capital, will work menial jobs or will be unemployed.


High schools are still educating using a template that was successful when the U.S. job markets were predominately hiring in manufacturing and industrial labor. There was a wide array of job opportunities for high school graduates and, to some degree, high school drop-outs when manufacturing and industry were the primary job options. Today, manufacturing and industrial labor jobs have been replaced by jobs often requiring a significant level of expertise in technology and automation. The human factor has been replaced with a robot, resulting in fewer legitimate career opportunities available for high school graduates and little to no opportunity for high school dropouts. This is particularly true in urban areas.  Urban areas have commonalities such as a lower socio-economic status, higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of high school drop-outs, higher rates of illiteracy and, consequently, higher rates of crime than do suburban and rural areas.


Anecdotally, how many times have you gone into your favorite convenience store or fast food restaurant and when the cashier rings up your total and you hand over your money, the cashier, without thinking, inputs your bill value in the register and looks to see how much change you get back. If, after the cashier inputs your bill, you hand over some change, what look does the cashier give you? What do I do now? The cashier cannot make the change. This is simply counting backwards, but the cashier is totally incapable of making the calculation.


A more extreme example is an experience I had at a restaurant in Lima, Ohio. The restaurant had some very colorful t-shirts and I wanted a couple.  I asked the hostess how much the shirts cost and she said they were $5.00 each.  I bought two. I gave her a $20.00 bill. She said she had to go get the manager because she didn’t have a register and did not know how much change to give me. I asked her if there was tax on the shirts and she said no. I told her the change was $10.00. She smiled and stepped away. Shortly, the manager returned, opened the drawer and handed me $10.00. I asked the manager if the hostess was a Lima high school graduate and the manager smiled and said, “Sadly, yes.”


I know these are extreme examples and are NOT a reflection of all high school graduates in the U.S., but how does this happen? I have taught at a variety of higher educational institutions that include a tradition community college, a four-year university, and for-profit colleges and universities. I find that that entering freshmen have little to no study skills, they have no educational work ethic, most have a difficult time reading and understanding a textbook, they have little to no critical thinking skills, and there is a prevalent thought that if they show up for class, they should get an A. I had a freshman student in my criminal justice program who failed his two corrections classes his first quarter. His second quarter, he was failing the two criminal justice classes he was taking. I asked him how he was doing “this quarter” and he said he was doing fine. I pointed out to him that he failed his two classes last quarter and was failing both this quarter. I then asked him what was going on. His response was that he thought “this” was like high school. All he had to do was show up and pass. I always ask my students the first day of class what they want to get out of the class. The overriding response I have gotten over the years was “to pass.” What are we instilling in our students that their level of achievement and level of self is just to pass? I could make the argument that the high school process ingrains in students that all they need to do is pass.

Part III to follow.

The Attack on our Youth

Again, we, the citizenry of the United States of America, have experienced an attack on our youth. The shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 of our youth and dedicated educators. As per usual the responses have ranged from the expected knee-jerk reactions that include the anticipated gun control response to the national and international headlines castigating the sheriff’s deputies that did not respond to the threat.  Politicians, in an attempt to protect their political posteriors, respond using language that meets the political aspirations needed to satisfy their constituency. All the while, we keep asking ourselves why!

How many times have you heard that kids are different today? Frank Martin, the head basketball coach at the University of South Carolina, has a different take.  He works with the youth of today. Coach Martin says, “You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed. To blame kids is a cop-out.” Whether you believe Coach Martin’s perspective or not, something has changed. Anecdotally, I was in high school in the early 70’s, and I do remember walking through the parking lot during hunting season and seeing shotguns in racks in the rear window of pickup trucks. We never had someone walk into the school and start shooting. The guns were part of the culture. So clearly, something has changed.

If crime is the focus, then the root issue that allows crime to exist must be identified.  Only by addressing the root cause can a catalyst for change be implemented. The one constant that transcends the crime problem at all levels is education. Education Week reported that an estimated 1.1 million prospective 2012 high school graduates did not earn a diploma.  An overall dropout rate of 7% was experienced in 2012. The U.S. Department of Education (2013) estimated that 14% of the general population cannot read and that 21% of U.S. adults read below a fifth-grade level. Further, 19% of high school graduates cannot read.  An American Psychological Association report published in 2012 that reported 14% of the adult American population demonstrated a below basic literacy level and 29% demonstrated a basic reading level. Student from low-income families are five times more likely to drop out of high school than students from high-income families. Dropouts are less likely to secure employment that pays a living wage and are more likely to be involved in criminal activity. A study in 2007 reported that California high school dropouts were between two and eight times more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated.

Cohen’s Delinquency and Frustration Theory directly relates the lack of educational preparation to rates of delinquency. This was in 1955! Cloward and Ohlin suggest that members in the lower socio-economic status who cannot reach their goals through legitimate means use an illegitimate opportunity structure to reach those goals. This was in 1960! Merton’s Strain Theory suggests that delinquency is a result of a lack of opportunity, particularly economic opportunity, and the lack of educational opportunity is the primary cause. This was in 1968!  The lack of education is a root cause of crime. These theories have one overriding premise: a lack of education leads to a lack of economic opportunity. The lack of legitimate economic opportunity forces one to use illegitimate avenues to reach the desired economic level.

Part II to follow.  Thank you!