Rejecting Police in the Hallways: A Reader

Reporting at NPR:

Authorities are investigating a classroom incident between a white sheriff’s deputy and a black high school student in Columbia, S.C., where the deputy, a school resource officer, flipped the female student’s desk backward and dragged her to the ground.

This violent response to being a black girl in school continues the pattern that proves in the U.S. “other people’s children” (read black, brown, poor) do not matter. Parallel to evidence of police violence that black lives do not matter, this abuse of power in a SC school must raise a voice against what Kathleen Nolan documents in Police in the Hallways; see:

Journal of Educational Controversy – Review: Police in the Hallways: Confronting the “Culture of Control” [journal abstract link]

My review ends:

Broadly, then, Nolan’s Police in the Hallways forces the reader to consider how the line between the police state in and out of school has become blurred in some children’s lives. It is a harsh lesson about how middle-class norms mask a cultural willingness to subject other people’s children (Delpit, 2006) to institutional policies and messages that no middle-class or affluent parents would accept for their own children:

In a grossly inequitable school system and stratified society, punitive urban school disciplinary policies serve the interests of the white middle and wealthy classes, as poor youth of color are demonized through the discourses of zero tolerance and subjected to heavy policing. (Kindle Locations 2391-2392)

See Also

Resource Officer’s Violence Toward Student Raises Fundamental Question That Most Miss

#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh: Deputy Ben Fields Sued Twice In Federal Court

Student Who Videotaped Incident Speaks Out

Racism affects black girls as much as boys. So why are girls being ignored?

FBI investigation sought in S.C. school incident caught on video

South Carolina sheriff’s deputy on leave after dragging student from her desk

Another Black Girl Assaulted by White Cop: Do We Matter Yet?

White America will ignore this video: The hideous & predictable violence of our schools, our legal system, our society

Greenville News: COMMENTARY: Are black children criminalized in schools?

5 comments

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse

    While I can agree with the statement that middle class parents and the wealthy would never put up with this happening to their children, there is another side to this that few if any people who grew up in the middle or wealthy class ever talk about because they don’t know the world where children grow up in poverty.

    I was born into poverty and I was one of those kids from the poor side of the tracks, but I attended a high school that was upper middle class and mostly white—my family lived on the very edge of that school district and on the fringe of a gang dominated barrio that was mostly Latino. Some of my friends lived in that barrio and all of them spent time in jail. They were tough, and I probably learned as much from them as I did in the Marines about what it can take to survive in this world.

    The high school where I was a student was on the other side of the affluent community from where we lived next to that poor one. As a HS student, I never witnessed, not once, any of those upper middle class white kids act out defiantly and refuse to do what they were told by a teacher or CPO (campus police officer). My older brother, who ran with street gangs as a teen and often cut school, also spent 15 years of his 64 years of life in prison. He was a chain smoker who was into drugs and booze and he had seven children who mostly followed in his footsteps. My brother never went to the same HS I went to because when I was a child, our parents moved into that fringe neighborhood on the edge of an affluent community, because they didn’t want their youngest son to grow up in the barrio where his older brother and sister grew up. My brother was 12 years older and my sister was 14 years older.

    But as a teacher who worked in a school where more than 80% of the children lived in poverty, 92% of the student population was minorities (Latino, Black and Asian), and the community was dominated by violent street gangs, I witnessed defiance almost daily. I witnessed drive by shootings from one of my classroom doorways. I was threatened almost every year and sometimes those threats came from parents. I worked with a few students who you couldn’t turn your back on, because their eyes warned you they were angry and dangerous.

    I knew teachers at the same school who were physically attacked and one who was knocked out cold. Rival gangs attended the same HS school and that required an armed police presence at lunch every day to keep the gangs from starting a violent riot. In fact, I was working late one night with the HS papers senior editors when a gang kid was blasted dead by a shotgun shot to his guts right in front of the classroom we were in.

    Once, early in my career, a 14 year old minority girl who cut school most of the time arrived late to class and I told her to go to the office and get a tardy slip. She lifted one leg and farted loudly in my face and then sat down refusing to go pick up the tardy slip. I had a classroom with more than 30 students in it and was attempting to teach. This female student who lived in the barrio and probably belonged to one of the street gangs had arrived halfway through class disrupting the learning environment. That school had one CPO and I called him to remove the girl. Fortunate for us, when he arrived and told her to go with him, she complies, but what would have happened if she had farted in his face too and refused to move. What would have have done? He had no weapon but he did have handcuffs. The district wouldn’t allow the CPO’s to carry firearms because they fears students taking those weapons away from the few CPOs on each campus and using the weapons to shoot rivals.

    In one class I had a male minority student who never worked or learned what I taught but he also never caused any disruptions. I had been told by his counselor that he was known as a shooter and had shot sever rival gang members. He had a price on his head put there by one of the rival gangs. I struggled all year to win him over so he would read the assignments and do as much work as possible. I failed to win him over, and on the last day of school he told me that he saw no reason to make an effort to learn because he expected to be dead before he reached the age of 18.

    Before you condemn any actions by a CPO and school administration, know all the facts about the student who was allegedly abused—something almost imposs8ible to know because of confidentially laws regarding minors. Who was this girl and what was her home and community environment like? I know for a fact that there are children who grow up in poverty who are angry, hard and very dangerous. They are dangerous as children, teens and then as adults.

    I grew up in one world and today I live in the other one, the affluent one, and I can tell you that my neighbors who all grew up in the middle class or upper middle class are clueless about the world I was born in to.

  2. peachymeyer

    Thank you for writing and posting this. One quibble: I do not believe that the violence against “other people’s children” serves the middle class, although some in this rapidly disappearing group have been led to believe that it does.

  3. ejuc8or

    “Before you condemn any actions by a CPO and school administration, know all the facts about the student who was allegedly abused—something almost impossible to know because of confidentially laws regarding minors. Who was this girl and what was her home and community environment like? I know for a fact that there are children who grow up in poverty who are angry, hard and very dangerous. They are dangerous as children, teens and then as adults.” [Taken from the above comment written by Loyd Lofthouse.]

    Seriously, you don’t need to be teaching in that environment. You clearly lack an in-depth understanding of their political, emotional, and instructional needs!

  4. Lloyd Lofthouse

    ejucBor

    Sorry, but I think you are totally wrong and have no understanding of the needs of these children—not like I did and do.

    I already taught in that environment for 30 years. I retired in 2005. If you want to read about the environment I taught in, then read my memoir based on a detailed daily journal I kept for one full school year.

    I was born into the world of poverty. I grew up in that world. As a child, I knew that world first hand. I understood what those children really needed and it wasn’t getting rid of the campus police.

    And when our (my) parents managed to work their way into the lower echelons of the middle class and escape that world, I also experienced the bully discrimination of the middle class against children like me who came from that world. Children who are born to and grow up in poverty tend to act and behave differential than children born to the middle class and we stand out marked by the hard scrabble environment we came from.

    Most of us children from the world of poverty don’t have the luck of being discovered by a Colonel Pickering from “My Fair Lady”.

    An assault of criticism on campus police based on the actions of one CPO (how is this different than the assault on ALL public school teachers?) is not going to deal with poverty and the environment poverty creates for children who grow up in that world at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

    I’m not advocating violence by the police on anyone since my father, my older brother and I were all victims of that police violence as teens, but I am pointing out that children who grow up in that world, to survive, often grow up hard and are different than most if not all children born into the privilege of the middle class or above. Instead of condemning the police and ignoring the real problems that come with poverty, I think we should look closer at what growing up in the hardscrabble world of poverty does to the people who are born and live there and what we can do to alienate that. No civilization in history has ever done away with poverty.

    The ticket to escape is literacy and a love of reading and once a child has that, then being ready to learn becomes so much easier. Let the courts deal with the one CPO. Instead of jumping on a politically correct band wagon to smear all CPOs and demand they be removed from public schools where they are NEEDED, regardless of what a few ignorant fools might think, I suggest we focus on bringing an end to the corporate educatoin reform movement built on a foundation of fraud, NCLB, RTTT, Common Core Crap and high stakes testing and demand that the community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, public schools be fully funded and supported.

    Take away those CPOs from the hardscrabble halls of the public schools where most of the children live in poverty, and there will be no one there to intervene to stop a riot, beatings or murders. Over 80% of teachers are women, and it is well documented that thousands of public school teachers are physically assaulted every year at the school where they teach. Do you expect women teachers to wade into a riot or fight between two rival gang members and those children or teens will just stop obediently. I’m a former Marine. I fought in Vietnam. I’m 6’4″ and weighted about 200 pounds and when I broke up fights, I had to physically get between the children/teens who were slugging it out and use my body to absorb their punches until I could push them apart. I knew females teachers and administrators who were knocked out trying to do the same thing.

    These kids are tough. To survive in their world, they have to be and the street rules they live by are not the same rules middle class children live with.

    “According to a recent article published by the American Psychological Association (APA), 80 percent of teachers surveyed were victimized at school at least once in the current school year or prior year. Violence against teachers is a “national crisis,” says Dr. Dorothy Espelage of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who served as chair of the APA task force on Classroom Violence Directed at Teachers. And yet, the issue is generally ignored or at least underreported by the media and given inadequate attention by scholars – a deficiency that has widespread implications for school safety, the teaching profession and student learning.”

    http://neatoday.org/2013/02/19/violence-against-teachers-an-overlooked-crisis-2/

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