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New Orleans Area School District’s Response to “School Safety” Prepares Students for Totalitarian World

May 12, 2018

Bob Warren’s article in yesterday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune focuses on school uniforms, SROs, mental health workers, and some chilling ideas to increase school safety, but the overall picture that emerges is the creation of a school environment that Kim Il-Jong and Vladimir Putin would endorse.

The headline “More Campus Cops, Student Uniforms Coming to St. Tammany Public Schools” described a public hearing where board members reviewed a report of a recently created school safety group on actions they should take relative to improving safety in the school. The actions included mandating uniforms in all schools in the district (parents currently vote on whether to have uniforms on a school-by-school basis), increasing the SROs from 14 to 41 so that every school in the district has one officer on duty, and adding “mental health” workers. The article also indicates a menu of recommended changes that are on the horizon: that include “…better perimeter fencing at school campuses and more advanced door locks“.

At the hearing the vocal protests came from parents and students at the six schools in the district that do not mandate uniforms.

“I believe in freedom,” Martha McKay, the parent of Mandeville High School students, told the board. A “basic right” would be “what color shirt we’re going to wear today,’‘ she added.

Olivia Christopher, a current junior at Mandeville High, said school safety is important, but that uniforms won’t necessarily get that. “We already all wear IDs,” she told the board.

Another Mandeville High parent, Amy Christopher, told the board a “yes” vote on uniforms would be counter to what parents had decided at the various schools. “I think you have to give parents that opportunity,” she said.

I read this article and looked at the future of the St. Tammany Public Schools and felt a chill go down my spine. Every day a group of uniformed students will walk through high perimeter fences past an armed guard at the entryway who will watch them to see which children might need to be sent to the “mental health worker” for an attitude adjustment of some sort. Perhaps the child who’s shirt is not tucked in properly or the child whose hair is dyed peculiarly might be singled out for a visit to the “mental health worker”. For certain the child who is disruptive will be viewed through the lens of law enforcement, for, as the article indicates, the new SROs will be “…employees of whatever law enforcement agency provides them“, which means at best there will need to be some clear lines of responsibility drawn. At worst, school discipline will become the purview of the police force, a result that might be OK with at least one Board member:

Let our teachers teach and let our law enforcement protect,” board member Michael Dirmann added.

One issue that was given only passing mention in the article but will likely be a source of contention when budgets are put together:

Hiring mental health providers and uniformed police officers – called school resource officers – will cost the district around $4 million annually. and taxpayers could eventually be asked to support a tax to cover the expense.

My hunch is that when the rubber hits the road in the development of next year’s budget, the mental health workers will find themselves on the sidelines but the uniforms for kids and funding for SROs will be intact… as will the one-time expenditures for improved perimeter fences and door locks.

Here’s the bottom line question: What kind of publicly funded facility has secure perimeter fences, sophisticated door locks, armed guards, interior surveillance cameras, and enclose individuals wearing uniforms? I suppose the good news is that the uniformed students might not be required to carry their IDs with them at all times… Oh… and if the mental health workers are cut the students won’t be referred there for counseling. Instead they will be referred to the police departments. This is not the schooling I experienced nor is it the schooling my children experienced. It is likely the schooling of the future, though.

One last thought: Vladimir Putin must be happy that we are willing to trade the freedom of our children for the rights of individuals to own sophisticated weapons. If this is the way public schools will be operated in the future, it will make it increasingly easy for “alternative charter schools” to flourish…

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