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.
The district acknowledged it had snapped 56,000 screen shots from the laptops of forty students, an effort it said was meant to track missing laptops. In Harrold, Texas, a sleepy farm town where the total student population for all grades is about one hundred and the crime rate is zero, the local school board decided in August 2008 that their teachers could come to school armed. Harrold’s two dozen teachers now have the right to bear concealed handguns, an idea radical even in a state known for
program but she abruptly canceled it, telling me, “Lake Travis ISD chooses not to participate in this interview.” By November 2007, the Meadows family had relocated to a different town and were still waiting to hear a final decision. They were contemplating filing a lawsuit. “It’s a key case. A lot of school districts are implementing this,” says Larry Meadows. “What are most parents going to do? They are going to cave in because if you’re against this, are you for sex offenders? That’s the game
called the justices “unusually snappish,” and cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “implied slur on the plaintiffs.” Amici briefs supporting Tecumseh were filed by half a dozen pro-testing groups, including David Evans of the Drug Free Schools Coalition, the Drug Free America Foundation, and DATIA, the lobby of the drug and alcohol testing industry. The Bush administration weighed in with its opinion that even schoolwide testing would be legal. In June 2002, the court handed down its decision in favor
The student takeover ended after several days and, as in Beall’s account, there were no consequences for their rebellion. The schoolmaster was “in a jolly good humor, and everything proceeded as if there had been no ‘barring out.’ ” He even bought them ten pounds of loaf sugar at the term’s end.9 THE BATH SCHOOL DISASTER No history, brief or otherwise, of school violence would be complete without the tale of the Bath, Michigan, school tragedy. Most people consider the Columbine High School
analysis? “The school feels it has no problem searching students’ things, so students now feel they can take things, too,” he suggests. Meanwhile, Lauth notes, while Steffner chased federal money for drug testing, the school’s roof had been leaking for years, so the ceiling was falling and “they have to put buckets around to catch the rain.” Dublin, Ohio, “a pretty well-to-do district,” according to the deputy schools superintendent, Mike Trego, had drug and alcohol testing from 2000 to 2002,