Last spring, TR@TC2 welcomed the Truthworker Theatre Company to perform at Teachers College. The company performed a mashup of three plays, Bar Code, In I Prism, and Re: Vision: A State of Emergence, to students from from International High School at LaGuardia, Marble Hill HS, and Baruch College Campus HS. The company is comprised of young people who collaboratively develop and write plays that address a range of social issues, with special attention to the school-to-prison pipeline and the incarceration rates of youth of color.

 

After the play, the performers sat down with the audience and talked about their writing process--and, later, engaged the students in a series of giggling-inducing acting exercises. Many of the actors have immediate family members who are incarcerated and so the act of performing, they explained, is a healing one. The performance also was a tool for critical analysis: One actor talked about the role of schooling in mass incarceration, particularly the relationship among special education, school discipline, and incarceration.

 

We were very moved by the performers and how their play mobilizes discussion and responses to the school-to-prison-pipeline. Check out more about the Truthworker Theatre Company and look out for their upcoming performances. And, in the meantime, we're offering some upcoming events and curricular tools on the school-to-prison pipeline, including a fantastic mediation training offered by the New York Peace Institute and the Alvin Ailey's upcoming performances.

 

Professional Development

New York Peace Institute - Basic Mediation Training

Brooklyn Mediation Center

210 Joralemon Street, Suite 618

Dates and times vary; check website for details

Training cost: $1475.00

 

The New York Peace Institute's 5-day Basic Mediation Training lays the groundwork for anyone interested in becoming a mediator, enhancing their conflict resolution skills, or working to become a volunteer mediator with the Institute. During the training, participants explore questions like: What is mediation and how does it compare to other forms of alternative dispute resolution? What are the core skills I need to be an effective mediator? What are the foundational values of mediation? What is my role as a mediator? What makes a successful mediation? Through group discussion, hands-on exercises, lecture, and role-play, you’ll have the chance to engage with these and other critical questions, and practice new skills with support and feedback from experienced mediators and trainers.

 

Classroom Resource

Experts discuss the circumstances that lead thousands of juveniles into the court system and jail each year in this video for educators adapted from FRONTLINE: Prison State. According to these experts, in certain communities where incarceration has been “normalized,” a child’s parents, siblings, or other relations have likely spent time behind bars. The message to children is that going to jail is part of their “destiny” whether they follow the rules or not. And while the number of juvenile lockups may be decreasing in some places—with more money being directed into home incarceration programs, as in the Louisville, Kentucky metro area—the likelihood is that once a child gets involved in the juvenile court system, he or she will continue to be part of it or move to the adult system. View the film on PBS Learning Media with your students and utilize the accompanying discussion questions, activities, and texts

 

Raising Consciousness

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) is the only publication covering juvenile justice and related issues nationally on a consistent, daily basis. In the past, traditional journalism organizations filled this function. Today, due to shrinking resources, there are large gaps in that coverage. The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange fills the void. Focused not just on delivering information, but rather on an “exchange” of ideas, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange fosters a community of support around the issues facing the youth of our country. Members are made up of people like yourself who are interested in doing what is best for at-risk kids, along with industry professionals who work with children on a daily basis and citizens. Doing what is best for children means staying well informed on governmental policies and legislation, court rulings, educational trends, treatment, research, prevention programs and other factors that impact the quality of service delivered to the kids that need them most.

 

Good Reads

Being Bad will change the way you think about the social and academic worlds of Black boys. In a poignant and harrowing journey from systems of education to systems of criminal justice, author Crystal T. Laura follows her brother, Chris, who has been designated a “bad kid” by his school, a “person of interest” by the police, and a “gangster” by society. Readers first meet Chris in a Chicago jail, where he is being held in connection with a string of street robberies. We then learn about Chris through insiders’ accounts that stretch across time to reveal key events preceding this tragic moment. Together, these stories explore such timely issues as the under-education of Black males, the place and importance of scapegoats in our culture, the on-the-ground reality of zero tolerance, the role of mainstream media in constructing Black masculinity, and the critical relationships between schools and prisons. No other book combines rigorous research, personal narrative, and compelling storytelling to examine the educational experiences of young Black males.