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Posts Tagged ‘Guns in School’

Surveillance for Shooters Used to Monitor Students. Is That What Parents Want? Is That What the Public Wants? What Kind of Future Does This Prepare Students For?

April 14, 2021 Leave a comment

Former journalist Nick Morrison’s recent article describes how schools are using surveillance cameras designed to ID school shooters to monitor student behavior throughout the school day. And, unsurprisingly, researchers at Johns Hopkins in MD and Washington College in MO are finding that “high surveillance” schools with intense camera coverage have higher suspension rates that typical public schools: 

Students at high-surveillance schools are more likely to be on the receiving end of an in-school suspension – where a student is put in isolation within the school, separated from their classmates.

This link holds even when researchers controlled for levels of school disorder and student misbehavior.

“High-surveillance schools create the capacity for high-suspension schools to exist,” said Odis Johnson, professor at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study.

“Greater detection leads to greater punishment, regardless of the students who attend these schools.”

But the effects don’t end there. Students at high-surveillance schools end up with significantly lower levels of math achievement and are also less likely to go on to college. At least some of this relationship a result of in-school suspensions.

And these findings underscore the unintended consequences of “hardening” campuses by introducing things like metal detectors, cameras, and– yes– SROs. And what is even worse is that the schools with the highest levels of security are the schools that serve poor children and children of color. And the students who receive discipline at these highly surveilled schools? 

They are also four times more likely to be Black, and disproportionately likely to be poor, from a single parent home and to have repeated a grade, the researchers found, after analyzing data on approximately 6,000 students across the U.S.

Along with co-author Jason Jabbari, data analyst at Washington University in St Louis, Johnson describes the disadvantages suffered by students in schools with greater surveillance as a “social control setback”.

The higher level of suspensions and its effect on math scores is almost enough on its own to account for the differences in college attendance.

Once suspensions and lower math scores are accounted for, Black females are more likely to attend college and Black males are no longer significantly less likely to attend college than other students.

So the vicious cycle, the school-to-prison pipeline, results from the presumably well-intentioned action of school boards to “protect” schools from shooters, redirecting money that COULD be used for instructional technology to buy surveillance technology and money that COULD be used for counselors to hire SROs. 

All of this leads to the questions posed in the headline of this post: 

Is this what parents want?

Is this what the public wants?

What kind of future does this prepare students for? 

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In a Completely Unsurprising Finding Students Do NOT Want Police In Schools… They’d Rather Have Have “Programs, Resources, and Support”

April 7, 2021 Leave a comment

Common Dreams writer Brett Wilkins posted an article describing the findings of a survey conducted by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) of students in Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. Here’s what their survey found:

Of the respondents with police at their schools, 41% said they felt unsafe or very unsafe when they see officers, with only 16% saying that campus cops make them feel safe. On the other hand, respondents said that friends (84%) and teachers (63%) made them feel safe.

Worse, than that was this finding:

One in four of the surveyed students have been arrested, while nearly one in five has had police respond when they miss school, 18% have been issued juvenile reports, and 16% have received court citations.

That data point was particularly troubling because, as the report accompanying the survey noted,

Students who were first arrested during the 9th or 10th grade were six to eight times more likely to drop out of school than students who were not arrested. Rather than reduce school violence, scholars have found that the presence of police merely criminalizes typical adolescent behavior, such as disorderly conduct, even among similarly situated schools.

As noted frequently in this blog, the decision to direct resources to police protection is especially damaging in those schools where there is a shortage of counselors, no social workers on staff, and no programs designed to help students who are experiencing mental health or addiction problems. The money spent on police could be spent on social services in the school or the community. The decision to spend it on police, whose response to problems is legal action that, in turn, leads too often to entry into the school-to-prison pipeline is one of the worst made by politicians and school boards over the past two decades.

The good news is it CAN be undone and IS being undone as more and more voters see the fruitlessness of placing police in schools.

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Media Literacy: The Road Not Taken in Public Education Where Standardized Tests and Safety Took Precedence Over Critical Thinking and Creativity

April 4, 2021 Leave a comment

After a mob overpowered police and entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, a hue and cry went up and fingers were pointed in many directions. Inevitably, one of the fingers pointed at the lack of civics education in public schools. But the problem with that finger pointing is that no one took the futurists in education seriously and no one took the forward-thinking liberal arts educators seriously…. because they saw January 6 coming in the 1980s and especially in the early 2000s when it became abundantly clear that students were getting more information online than they were getting in books.

To help me research a forthcoming op ed piece, I just downloaded a timeline prepared by Frank Baker, who developed the media literacy clearinghouse in 1998, and the very time I recall my recently hired Technology Coordinator typing the word “Google” behind a cursor to show me how a newly devised “search engine” was going to transform research. 

Here’s my over-arching premise: in the late 1990s and early 2000s public education found itself at a crossroads: it could, in the words of Marshall McLuhan, move forward looking at the rearview mirror or it could look ahead and drive based on the road ahead. The rearview mirror called for the use of ever-refined standardized tests to determine what knowledge students attained and how they could use it OR they could embrace the way learning was happening in real time— via the internet— and devise a curriculum using the principles identified by the National Leadership Conference on Media Literacy, a group who in 2003 offered the following basic principles for critical analysis of media messages:

• Media messages are constructed.
• Messages are representations of reality with embedded values and points of view.
• Each form of media uses a unique set of rules to construct messages.
• Individuals interpret media messages and create their own meaning based on personal experience.                       • Media are driven by profit within economic and political contexts.

Needless to say, had national leaders chosen to emphasize those five principles over test preparation, chosen investments in technology instruction and the acquisition of personal technology over SROs and cameras in schools, we might have had a different way of thinking about the world in 2021.