Our Students aren't Dangerous, our Schools are

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A few weeks ago our NYC schools, mostly our Bronx Schools, were a hot topic on the news. There have been several incidents involving students bringing in weapons into the school building. In one case a student stabbed his classmate right in the middle of history class; the student later died in the hospital. This is tragic and I feel for the deceased student's loved ones as I also lament the student who committed such a violent act and has essentially ruined the rest of his life. These incidents have been covered by the media in SENSATIONALIZED excess, portraying our schools as dangerous and claiming that parents are outraged, wanting more security in our schools and of course, more metal detectors! The real tragedy in all of this is that these student's lives have been destroyed at such a young age in out of all places: their school, an environment that should be conducive to the well-being of every student. Unfortunately all local Bronx politicians can do is scream out for more metal detectors rather than fight FOR education reform. 

Nothing is more depressing and demeaning than being submitted to airport-like security when walking into a place of learning, and the place you spend most of your day. I've been subjected to metals detectors while interviewing at different schools and although I've never accepted a position at a school with a metal detector, I always feel less human as my privacy is violated while my personal belongings are placed on display. If I feel this way as an adult who has traveled quite a bit, I can only imagine how our students feel being subjected to this kind of violation of privacy every morning. So no, the problem isn't our students, it's our schools.

Here's the truth: we don't see metal detectors in schools with predominantly white students. In LOW ses NEIGHBORHOODS, or in schools predominantly black and brown, we think our kids are PRONE TO VIOLENCE, TO ACTING VIOLENT AND THEREFORE ARE something to fear, to control, AND to contain because the police patrolling the projects don't police our kids enough SO naturally we have to police them even more in our schools; otherwise they'll start acting like animals. Right? tHIS IS THE IDEA BEHIND ASKING FOR MORE METAL DETECTORS IN OUR SCHOOLS INSTEAD OF CALLING OUT the real culprit here: OUR WHITE SUPREMACIST FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and it's white supremacist agenda and CURRICULA in our schools. The real problem lies in OUR SCHOOLS' INABILITY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR impoverished black and brown youth. 

lET'S FACE REALITY HERE: tHE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE IS as REAL as the our Achievement Gap (A gap that appears to be widening rather than improving since its "discovery"). Many, if not most, of our inner- city schools are institutions created and run to perpetuate white supremacy and continue to feed our prison system with black and brown boys. The saddest part of it all is that the administrators and faculties in these schools continue to Choose to perpetuate this oppressive system instead of voicing the dire need for change.

I've spent all of my Educational career in NYC's charter school system and I admit that my experience and perspective is limited by this; However, during my time working in 3 different charter schools (and interviewing or spending time in others) I have only ever seen schools acknowledge that the school to prison pipeline exist. They never question their role within this structure, they never discuss how their curriculum will renounce white supremacy in the school, they never implement a plan for their mostly white teacher force (most of which did not grow up in NYC) to unlearn stereotypes or racist ideology they have subconsciously adopted about black or Latino people. And though they discuss their plan on preparing students to take and pass a state test (because much of the school's future depends on it), they never discuss or show concern for implementing a curriculum designed to prepare our black and brown students to survive and thrive and navigate in a society set up for their failure. Schools opt instead to promote the false, tired ideology "if you try hard, you will succeed," the same one fed to privileged white kids in suburbia, the only demographic this may be true for, it's also true that some of them don't even have to try. I have never been in a school in which they admit that this cliche is simply not true for all of us and that it becomes less true the darker your skin tone.

I realize that what I am asking for here is a "radical" revolution, a restructuring of our education system but it is necessary but it isn't impossible. So instead of demonizing our youth and instead of simply discussing why we should get rid of metal detectors (a conversation that was happening 2 years ago https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/students-tell-mayor-de-bl_b_6735290.html), why can't we start talking about how culturally sensitive curriculums might decrease violence in our schools, increase graduation rates, and possibly set up more of our black and brown students for succes? This is the conversation we need to have. The fact that this conversation isn't happening is what is most dangerous, Not our kids.     


Sasha GuirindongoComment