What Causes the School to Prison Pipeline?

Finding unique and creative ways to keep kids in school is key. We must understand diversifying options for our students is essential and applying the one size fits all model simply does not work!


school prison

Ross T has a good post on this over at Mike Goldstein’s blog.

His argument: strict discipline codes, coupled with strong academics, reduce the school to prison pipeline.

This argument of course runs antithetical to many civil rights groups, who view strict discipline as the cause of the school to prison pipeline. Many reporters, especially those who lean left, often also take this view.

Here’s my take: strict discipline can be used poorly or thoughtfully. It can be used to expel kids for minor offenses (which often sends them into the streets) or it can be used as a foundation for a strong academic culture (which increases the chance that students are prepared for career and college).

Terrible schools, not strict discipline in and of itself, cause the school to prison pipeline.

If a reporter, civil rights group, or anyone else wishes to understand whether discipline is being used poorly…

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Initiating Myself Into Manhood

Initiating Myself Into Manhood

initating myself into manhood photo by mo riza

Growing up without mature masculine role models handed Bryan Reeves the difficult lifetime task of initiating himself into a mature manhood.


“The weak or absent father cripples both his daughters’ and his sons’ ability to achieve their own gender identity and to relate in an intimate and positive way with members both of their own sex and the opposite sex.” ~ Robert Moore & Douglass Gillette (King Warrior Magician Lover)


I grew up with two good men in my life.

But they were hardly examples of healthy masculinity to model myself after.

My father left my mother when I was four. I know it crushed him because I remember the night he left, sitting on his lap in his home office, a hastily filled briefcase cocked open next to us on the black leather couch. Although I don’t remember his words, I viscerally remember his anguish. I didn’t know quite what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good, and I knew he was leaving.

For the next 15 years I lived with “father” as fantasy.

I saw him sporadically, short intense bursts of father-energy scattered across the prime of my pre-teen years. It was actually rather disorienting. I had his presence so infrequently that when he was around, my body changed.

I saw him sporadically, short intense bursts of father-energy scattered across the prime of my pre-teen years. It was actually disorienting. I had his presence so infrequently that when he was around, my body changed.

He once showed up at a baseball game I was pitching and volunteered to umpire. It felt like someone unplugged my electricity. I couldn’t throw the ball straight, instead throwing high arcing softball-like pitches that he couldn’t figure out how to call. He actually had to stop the game and consult someone else’s dad about what to do. When he showed up at soccer games, I felt like molasses on the field, unable to run as fast as the other kids, and my shots on goal were void of any confidence.

I do have sweet childhood memories with my dad. One summer we traveled across the southwest USA, visiting a native american medicine man on a Hopi reservation and donkey-tripping down into the Grand Canyon. One night, we camped on the less-visited north ridge under a massive sky speckled with more stars than I’ve surely seen in all the accumulated nights of my life since.

But when I hit 10, he married my step-mom. New adventures whisked him away more consistently. I wouldn’t again spend enough time to know him as an actual person until I was in my late 20s when my French wife kicked me out of France (and her life) and I moved to Miami to live with him and work for his company.

Within a very short period of time, I hated him.

It’s not important why, and it involves my insanity as much as his. But he was my father, and the fantasies his distance had created in my mind quickly shattered. I wanted to be nothing like him.


The man I really grew up with arrived when I was 10, as my birth father began slipping away.

My step-father and my mother married a few months after they met and had my littlest sister just a few months after that (I did the calendar math; I knew what was up). He was a good man. He was also an alcoholic with a horrifying rage. But he was silly funny, and we desperately needed his humor in our lives. Besides the rage and his alcoholism, he was a strong male presence in the house, the kind that liked to build things with his hands in a little basement workshop and gorgeous stone walls that meandered through the garden. He was good to me, my sister, and my mother. Given the nuclear rage he routinely unleashed in our home, sometimes for things as mundane as misplaced keys, the fact that he never hit us seems nothing short of a miracle to me now.

He got sober after I left home.

We know well how to express feminine energy but are woefully ignorant around expressing masculine energy in mature, healthy ways, in intimate relationships with women and also with each other.

In my coaching practice, I see this over and over in men who grew up with strong mothers and weak, missing, or disoriented fathers: we know well how to express feminine energy but are woefully ignorant around expressing masculine energy in mature, healthy ways, in intimate relationships with women and also with each other.

That’s been me since I left home at 16.

Now 40, single, and childless, I look back and see the still-smoldering wreckage of too many intimate relationships past. I see good women who sometimes were literally screaming for me to step up and be a man in relationship to their feminine yearnings. I knew how to be a good brother to women, a good son, and a good friend. But I did not know how to be a good man to a woman. The cost of not having men consistently demonstrate a mature, healthy masculinity for me has been grave.

My dads were innocent by ignorance. No one showed them either.


At 40, I’m only now waking up to what it means to be a healthy masculine man.

Our society lives haphazardly into adulthood. The bulk of our education focuses on teaching kids how to add numbers, read words, learn ideas, recite history, and follow rules set by other people. Our most important institutions congratulate young people with certificates in hand that merely certify the amount of information they have in their brains.

They don’t initiate us into adult lives as intentional, thoughtful, awakened men.

Without the embodied transformation created by modeling and intentional ritual, boys remain caterpillars sensing they’re destined for something magnificent but completely ignorant as to what, and even more ignorant about how to fulfill upon that destiny.

Life as a mature masculine man must be modeled, even ritually initiated in boys. Without the embodied transformation created by modeling and intentional ritual, boys remain caterpillars sensing they’re destined for something magnificent but completely ignorant as to what, and even more ignorant about how to fulfill upon that destiny. It’s our natural boyhood instinct to avoid the transformational death inevitable inside the cocoon, and so we never live as butterflies.

We remain in perpetual adolescence. We blow our relationships with women (as adolescent boys do) because we don’t know how to meet our feminine partners without depreciating them or using them as a false source of our self-worth. We avoid genuine authenticity with other men. We live out lives of acquisition and relative isolation that leave us feeling dreadfully empty.

Ancient indigenous cultures all over the world have boy-to-man rituals that involve great pain, or at least the threat of it. Young Amazonian men in the Satere Mawe tribe wear hand gloves made of leaves and filled with hundreds of angry bullet ants whose bite is scientifically rated as the most painful ant bite in the world. They must bear the pain for 10 minutes without wincing or complaining, as proof of their worthiness of manhood.

New Guinea men of the Vanuatu tribe throw themselves off a tall tower of wood towards the earthen ground, head first, secured at the ankles only by two long jungle vines tied to the tower. Miscalculated length of vine or breakage means serious injury or even death. These jumps mark a boy’s charge into manhood, as their depth of manliness is measured by how high they are willing to fall.


I have been unknowingly trying to initiate myself into mature manhood my entire adult life.

Desperate to jail break myself out of adolescence, I would throw myself into the transformational fires of horrible relationships with women.

Desperate to jail break myself out of adolescence, I would throw myself into the transformational fires of horrible relationships with women; give myself to spiritual practices that promised pain; sleep in caves and wander the planet aimlessly for years, crossing countries and deserts, journeying to places of great death and barrenness like concentration camps, the Australian outback and Chilean mountainsides, in search of relief, answers, breakthroughs, release, freedom … Initiation.

The lack of mature masculine role models is epidemic in our world today.

In the classic book, King Warrior Magician Lover, the authors write:

The crisis in masculine maturity is very much upon us. Lacking adequate models of mature men, and lacking the societal cohesion and institutional structures for actualizing ritual process, it’s “every man for himself.” And most of us fall by the way side, with no idea what it was that was the goal of our gender-drive or what went wrong in our strivings. We just know we are anxious, on the verge of feeling impotent, helpless, frustrated, put down, unloved and unappreciated, often ashamed of being masculine .… Many of us seek the generative, affirming, and empowering father (though most of us don’t know it), the father who, for most of us, never existed in our actual lives and won’t appear, no matter how hard we try to make him appear.

I do not call for head-first tower diving or bathing in angry bullet ants to help us find our way. But we are generations of men painfully disoriented, with few healthy masculine role models to point the way.

We have the more difficult work then of crafting ourselves into the masculine role models our world needs, and that we ourselves desperately want.

“Because there is little or no ritual process … capable of boosting us from Boy psychology to Man psychology, we must each go on our own (with each other’s help and support) to the deep sources of masculine energy potentials that lie within us all. We must find a way of connecting with these sources of empowerment.” (KWML)

Our women, our families, our communities, our boys AND our girls absolutely depend on it.

—Originally appeared on www.ReclaimingMaleRoleModels.com

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—Photo Mo Riza/flickr

– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/bnr-initiating-myself-into-manhood/#sthash.Kc9BbbjL.dpuf

How To Be a Leader From Within


Jose Aviles is working on building the leaders of tomorrow, starting with focusing on others.


Servant leadership is less about you and more about others. Servant leadership is a term that has its roots in many biblical contexts. The concept of servant leadership starts with self-sacrifice and putting the needs of those you lead first. Servant leaders must focus on the wellbeing and growth of their followers.

servant leadership can be an altruistic concept which betters society which in turn can benefit you directly or indirectly …
People will not follow a leader until he/she shows genuine interest in them. The reason why servant leadership is so essential is the fact that it is at the very root of social change at a global level. Lets take the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela for example. Their influence is felt worldwide and will be for decades and millennia to come. I am not saying you have to be assassinated or imprisoned for 27 years to effect change. We all can effect change in many ways, such as mentoring a young child, recycling trash, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring after school, helping a soup kitchen, etc. Ultimately servant leadership can be an altruistic concept which betters society which in turn can benefit you directly or indirectly such as when people talk about making the world a better place for their children.


I had a conversation with a Dean at a certain university that was running a young men’s conference that focused on concepts like education and employment. There was a women’s panel where a group of educated and successful women talked about what they expect in a Man. The conference was amazing as well as informative.

At the conference a person approached and asked why I was so concerned with educating young men and providing them with guidance through the various programs I provide. I could not find an answer, beside the fact that it made me feel good. This person hypothesized that my concern with young men went deeper than that. I still could not understand what he meant. He then asked me if I had a daughter, I said yes, she was 9 at the time. He then went on to say that the reason I was concerned with these young men was that fact that I wanted to teach and mold as many young men as possible so that in the future I can provide as many viable candidates for my daughter as possible. I was not sure whether to be offended or to thank him. You see Servant Leadership in the end can benefit you in many ways; it can just be the interpretation of the reward that may need to change.

Why should suburban municipalities need to be concerned about what happens in the city? Because, if issues like poverty and crime are not addressed at its root, it will eventually find its way into their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, American culture interferes with the concept of servant leadership. Our music, literature and movies focus on instant gratification. We live in a time where everyone is an instant celebrity, a part of the “Selfie” Generation on Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Twitter etc.

John Paul Tilrow at ReadWrite states that there are over 90 million selfies on Instagram. Kate Knibbs at Digitaltrends.com (http://www.digitaltrends.com/users/kateknibbs/) says that “Selfies are the social media equivalent of junk food and we’ve given ourselves Instagram Diabetes” Working in education for many years I have seen fads come and go but one thing always seems to remain consistent and that is our appetite to feel and be noticed.

High school is a place where Darwin and Freud collide with the power of an atom bomb…
Adults have a difficult time dealing with these concepts so teaching teenagers to be less self-serving can feel like we just have been tasked to move Mount Rushmore. Maybe it is part of our innate nature that has developed over millennia through evolutionary processes which encourage such flamboyant behavior. High school is a place where Darwin and Freud collide with the power of an atom bomb, where that powerful drive to pass down you DNA from one generation to the next bonds with the Super Ego. Add to that the teenage monster, which has enough estrogen and testosterone to fill several Olympic size swimming pools. My question is how do we get these evolutionary freaks of nature to care for one another?

According to Ken Blanchard, what keeps people from becoming servant leaders is ego. He goes on to state that our ego disrupts our path to servant leadership in a couple of ways. The first way is false pride. We begin to ask ourselves how do we take credit for what we are doing? As opposed to how do we ensure that who we are serving is getting what they need? Though much of Blachard’s work focuses on administration we can apply this to students.

The second way ego interferes with servant leadership is insecurity. Fearing that your short comings may become the focal point of conversation, when taking a back seat may be necessary but we become more focused on winning versus being effective, and the perception of losing become something that we must avoid at all cost.

American culture encourages individuality but does so at what expense. We indulge in so many unhealthy practices that put ourselves first and the interest of others a distant second.

As Mahatma Gandi put it so eloquently, “as human beings, our greatness lays not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” He goes on to state that “a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. You will find yourself in service to your fellow Man, your country, and your God.”

Fundamentally developing a Nation that cares begins and ends with the individual. Before we can start teaching the concept of servant leadership to our children we must delve deep into ourselves and come to the realization that we first must lead by example before we can truly become servant leaders. To break the cycle of this self-serving culture we must transform it from the inside out, cultivating a sense of self-sacrifice. So in essence when we serve others we are essentially serving ourselves and to that end we have come full circle.

– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/leader-within-ojh/#sthash.zq14s6bS.dpuf

Dr. Aviles is also the author of Peer Mentorship in High School, visit his website at http://peermentorshipinhighschool.tateauthor.com/

Will the Real Willie Lynch Please Stand Up

Will the Real Willie Lynch Please Stand Up

By. Jose Aviles Ed. D.

Why teach Willie Lynch? A document many consider a fake, a hoax or simply a fictional text. Historian Prof. Manu Ampim presents evidence to suggest so on his website, Death of the Willie Lynch Speech. The answer I believe is pretty simple though the content in itself is very complex. Many of the concepts presented in this text are as real and prevalent in today’s society as when they were conceived by its author when written either three hundred years ago or as early as the 20th century.

Let’s take the concept of “Big Brother is Watching.”

Big Brother is a fictional construct created by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother is the mysterious dictator of Oceania a kind of communist totalitarian society. The government and ruling party uses technology to keep their citizens under constant surveillance. This publication can draw some interesting and ironic parallels to the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 also known as the Patriot Act.

The Willie Lynch speech is a lecture supposedly given by William Lynch a British slave owner who ran a modest plantation in the West Indies. The speech was reportedly given at a gathering on a bank of the James River in Virginia in 1712. He was purportedly invited by slave owners in Virginia who were having difficulty managing their slaves and sought Willie for advice. He apparently discovered many secrets to managing African slaves. It was like a convention on slave ownership and he was the authority on training slaves. He presented concepts such as divide and conquer and psychological oppression to instill fear and distrust within the slave community. This made chains unnecessary since slaves would no longer run away or try to escape, creating an environment of mental oppression. Turning slaves against each other was critical using a variety of techniques which included but was not limited to the destruction of the family unit, destroying the black male image, increased stratification using physical characteristics such as skin color, gender and age. This fostered jealousy through the creation of hierarchical sub divisions amongst the slaves themselves. This was done through rape thus creating prestige and value to the slave owners’ children with slave women that allowed for a perceived status such as the house slaves vs. field slaves concept. Though Willie Lynch may be a fictional character many of these concepts ring true till this day.

W.E.B. Dubois makes a clear connection between methods used to oppress slaves, and laws designed to discriminate against African Americans when slavery ended to the obstacles African-Americans currently face in their communities, such as high crime rates, drugs, lack of education, poverty and broken homes. Dubois reflects on his past works in a piece called Apologia he goes on to state: “I did not realize the psychological reasons behind the trends of human action which the African slave trade involved.” p.327 Throughout his career he was able to empirically connect the struggles of the African American community to the past actions of the Government. Towards the end of his career he exposes that the design of such structures were motivated entirely by economics and in keeping a very select few in power and very rich. Later Dubois promotes the teaching of Karl Marx and embraces the concept that human history is based on the constant struggle between economic classes. Racism came to fruition through economics, creating additional divisions in American society. This leads us to today and the various policies that discourage upward mobility such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax. These programs are removed disproportionately as incomes increase discouraging people to seek better paying jobs since it becomes more cost effective to stay unemployed. Taxes can increase at rates as high as 80% when the working poor gains better employment or even raises. The Net Income Change Calculator provided by The Urban Institute can show us this. The reintegration of non-violent convicts into the workforce has been an upward battle as well, since it is virtually impossible to find substantial employment with a criminal record thus promoting the industrial prison complex. Which is in itself another form of modern day slavery in which a disproportionate amount of those incarcerated are African American, Native American, Latino and poor.

In “The Shaping of Black America-The Road Not Traveled” Lerone Bennett states “racism,… is not an individual idea or peculiarity but an institutionalized ideology that commits the institutions of a society to the destruction of a people because of race. The idea developed by the Virginians (and Americans) was simple and profitable.” P.61

In other words those who believe that William Lynch actually existed give him way too much credit for single handedly masterminding the concept of racism. It was an idea that took hundreds of years to evolve and is still evolving today. Racism is embedded in the very fabric of economic and social class structures. Was Willie Lynch real? No. Are the concepts real? Yes, and that is why it is worth reading and presenting in class as a fictional text that has value beyond the classroom. This should be taught to all students regardless of demographic. Willie teaches us that psychological oppression is a construct that is real and that we should question all policies and laws that place us in a category which in many ways puts us in a psychological box that prevents us from exploring all options. This preconceived notion that we are who everyone else believes we are must be smashed, whether it is through politics, education, sports or business. Allowing others to instill this fear in us which prevents us from pursuing what make us happy keeps that one percent in power. Willie Lynch is less about race and all about keeping the 99% at each others’ throats. It is about time we woke up.

Bennett, Lerone: The Shaping of Black America. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 1975, pp. 61-82.

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Apologia.” The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America in Du Bois, The Social Science Press, 1954, p.327-329

Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. 1949

Mayor Baraka is Half Right

One of the few articles I fully agree with!



Ras Baraka, the recently elected mayor of Newark, just published an op-ed in the NYT. You can read it here.

Mayor Baraka makes a couple of points:

1. The state of New Jersey took over Newark schools about 20 years, and this has been a total failure.

2. The recent major philanthropic investment in Newark has mostly been a failure.

3. Things aren’t getting better.

4. The school system should be transferred to mayoral control.

5. The following reforms should be implemented: expand pre-k, train teachers, reduce class sized, overhaul curricula, and raise expectations.

I’m sympathetic to much of his argument.

Twenty years of state control has not resulted in significant citywide improvement.

The philanthropic investment in teacher compensation was poorly spent.

Things in Newark aren’t getting better at a fast enough rate.

Yet, interestingly enough, the mayor does not detail the one bright spot of state intervention: the…

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What can we learn from gangs and fraternities? Chapter II Review of Literature

Thought I’d share this piece again, relative to the need boys have to connect with men good or bad.

Dr. Jose Aviles

gangs vs frats

Peer Mentorship in High School
Fraternities and Sororities vs. Gangs

Where did gangs and fraternities come from? What is the appeal of fraternities and gangs? Why do teenagers and young adults gravitate to them in droves? What is the difference between the two? Fraternal orders, secret societies, and gangs have been around for hundreds of years. Going as far back as the 1800s, the Triad, a Chinese gang organization, and the Italian Mafia have existed at least two hundred years. Secret societies like the Freemasons who have established fraternal orders have been around since the 1400s. The term thug originated before the 1400s branching off its root word “Thuggee” translated to deceiver, which represented a group of thieves and assassins who roamed the lands and back roads of India, raping and robbing anyone in their path. King Solomon referenced gangs or groups of people who lack a certain moral code…

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