A few weeks ago New York City schools, mostly our Bronx Schools, were a hot topic on the news. several incidents occurred involving students, particularly young men of color, bringing weapons to school. 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 actions of the student who committed such a heinous act resulting in the ruining of the rest of his young life. These incidents were covered by the media in SENSATIONALIZED excess, portraying our schools as dangerous and claiming that parents outraged and enraged, are calling for more security in our schools and of course, more metal detectors!
The real tragedy in all of this is that these students' lives have been destroyed at school, their place of learning, a place that should be conducive to the well-being of every student but all local Bronx politicians can do is scream out for more metal detectors rather than demand education reform especially for our young black and brown boys.
Nothing is more depressing and demeaning than being submitted to airport-like security when walking into a place of learning, the place most of these students spend most of their day. I've been subjected to metals detectors while interviewing at different schools and although I've never accepted a position at a school subjecting their students to metal detectors every morning, I always feel less human as my privacy is violated and my personal belongings are put on display. If I feel this way as an adult with quite a bit stamps on her passport, I can only imagine how our students feel being subjected to this kind of violation of privacy every morning. Or perhaps they've become immune to it. I'm not sure which is worse but I do know that the problem is not our students, our young men, the problem is our schools. we are failing our young men of color.
Here's the real truth: In NYC we don't see metal detectors in schools with predominantly white students. In LOW ses NEIGHBORHOODS, or in schools with a predominantly black and brown student body, we believe these kids are PRONE TO VIOLENCE and are to be feared, controlled, AND contained in school because the police patrolling the projects don't police our kids enough SO naturally we have to also police them in school. Right? tHIS IS THE borderline racist 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 policy and CURRICULA in our schools. The real problem lies in OUR school system's INABILITY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR inner-city black and brown youth.
tHE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE IS as REAL as this nation's Achievement Gap. Many, if not most, of our inner- city schools are places in which white supremacy is perpetuated. Places that continue to feed our prison system with black and brown boys. The saddest part of it all is that administrators in these schools continue to Choose to perpetuate this oppressive system instead of voicing the dire need for change to educational policy.
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 and observing in others) I have only ever seen schools acknowledge that the school to prison pipeline exist. I have yet to be in a school in which They question their role within this structure, they discuss how their curriculum will renounce white supremacy, and how they can 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, especially our boys. These schools will discuss their plan on preparing students to take and pass a state test (because much of the school's future depends on it) until they are all blue in the face but 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 although it's also true that rich white kids don't even have to try. I have never been in a school in which they admit and take action against curriculum that does not successfully prepare our black and brown boys to navigate a system that forces them to be violent, demonizes them, views them guilty before they are proven innocent all while putting the blame on them.
I realize that what I am asking for here is a "radical" revolution, a necessary restructuring of our entire education system. one that 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), addresses the need for culturally sensitive curriculums and how this is the key to decreasing violence in our schools and amongst our inner-city youth, increase graduation rates, and possibly set up more of our black and brown students for success. This is the conversation we need to have. The fact that this conversation isn't happening is what is most dangerous, Not our kids.