rethinking the response to policing (and educating) black communities

i’ve really tried hard to keep from talking about my work life, but i feel compelled to share my experience with the mechanics of our failing public school system today. as part of our professional development, the principal of our school lectured and berated us teachers for 3 hours straight about how low the percentages of passing students are. when presenting his solutions for how to improve the “culture” of the school, his solutions include requiring teachers to use lesson planning and assesment time to supervise disruptive students who have been removed from classes and requesting that more teachers volunteer to supervise afterschool detention…which he calls the “detention center.” is it just me, or does that strike you as the last name to call detention when you don’t want students to equate school with prison?

anyhow, i questioned whether this time for supervising students could be used for the special ed teachers to complete the federally mandated learning plans we have to write for 120+ students – and was quickly shut down. so, instead of completing the learning plans during the day, they’d rather pay us to do it after school and cry to us about how little funding there is for the school. i mean, after all, the way to motivate students to attend consistently, work dilligently, and become passionate learners is to increase the amount of adults punishing and supervising their punishments, right?

there is a point to this, i promise. two brilliant community organizers i know wrote an editorial about the oversaturation of police in urban and black communities that directly connects to the lack of inspiration, innovation, and general investment in the lives of black and latino youth i’ve witnessed in my limited 6 month experience with public schooling. this paragraph in particular would perfectly describe the “culture” of the school where i teach:

Available data suggest crime in general has plunged dramatically. Yet, for the poorest, most vulnerable Black communities, crime remains a problem; however, present policing strategies (e.g. militarization, zero tolerance/quality of life) both exacerbate and obscure the root issues that underscore crime. These issues among others include inadequate school systems, heightened poverty rates and high unemployment among Black youth.

you can read more (it’s short) here.

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~ by Anayah on January 30, 2007.

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