Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse
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School violence has fallen steadily for twenty years. Yet in schools throughout the United States, Annette Fuentes finds metal detectors and drug tests for aspirin, police profiling of students with no records, arbitrary expulsions, armed teachers, increased policing, and all-seeing electronic surveillance.
This climate of fear has permitted the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on young people’s rights, dignity, and educational freedoms. In what many call the school-to-prison pipeline, the policing and practices of the juvenile justice system increasingly infiltrate the schoolhouse. These “zero tolerance” measures push the most vulnerable and academically needy students out of the classroom and into harm’s way.
Fuentes’s moving stories will astonish and anger readers, as she makes the case that the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society with an unhealthy fixation on crime, security and violence.
another time would have been relegated to the section on “bizarre news,” the infrequent and titillating man-bites-dog stories. But I noticed that these stories were no longer rare, and the reactions to them were not shock and dismay but more likely affirmative and approving from people who reflected the attitudes captured in the Public Agenda report. At the time, state and federal lawmakers were in a frenzy about juvenile crime and were revising statutes to allow prosecutors to try juveniles as
approach to student behavior that has caused the most far-reaching damage, unleashing an epidemic of suspensions or, as in Shaquanda Cotton’s case, criminal prosecutions, that grows exponentially every year. Examples of zero tolerance run amok are a daily occurrence, but only the most bizarre seem to surface in the news: • Four boys, twelve and thirteen, in a Wisconsin middle school are suspended for three days and issued police citations for disorderly conduct after yanking up a classmate’s
consider intrusive and unnecessary. And Raptor has benefitted from the kind of generous, mostly uncritical news media coverage that money can’t buy. Raptor’s genesis was in the events of September 11, 2001. Measom was then a consultant to Enron, the defunct Houston corporation now synonymous with financial wrongdoing. After New York’s twin towers were destroyed by terrorism, Measom was asked to develop a software program that would track who entered and left Enron’s headquarters. Three months
news article about the ruling.11 Interquest was whelped by Debbie Farmer, a dog handler in the canine detection unit of SAI, and her partner Mike Fernandez. The company website states that Farmer helped establish “policies and procedures” that withstand legal challenges in the courts. Schools comprised most of their clients from the beginning, and today Interquest is a twenty-five-franchise concern, contracting with twelve hundred schools in twenty-seven states. Franchise fees cost between
select and implement programs whose effectiveness is supported by rigorous independent evaluations such as the RCCP.” Among its many pluses, the RCCP is low-tech and lost cost and enhances, instead of competing with, academic achievement.5 But even RCCP’s proven successes were not sufficient when the political agendas of New York City’s schools chancellor and mayor eliminated the program’s office and budget in fall 2002. The RCCP’s $1.8 million budget was dispersed to local school districts and