Sunday, April 30, 2006

Front Door

With the onset of new political fervor over the safety of our schools, the Department of Education has used it resources to spot check our students upon the entrance to any New York City public school. I understand their concern. The idea weapons are being brought to schools is antithetical to the educational process. Weapons have no place in schools.

Is randomly checking schools going to solve this problem? Probably not, “…having metal detectors will make a school safe. But of course, you know, someone who wants to shoot somebody is probably not going to come in and go through the metal detector. They'll probably come in blasting. I think one of the things that also makes the school safe is just ... is the size and whether or not people know each other.” Lisa Delpit, author of Other People's Children, and professor at Georgia State University.

What means for truly stopping the problem are going to put into place by the department of education? We shouldn’t be concerned if Johny has a gun in his bag but rather why Johny felt he needed to buy the gun. Are the “Savage Inequalities” that are being replicated in schools being addressed?

A teacher entering through a separate entrance is not the message we should be sending at this time. Everything we do on campus, coaching, teaching, driving, conversing with colleagues, and walking through the hallways is modeling behavior. We might not agree with Mike and Joel’s decision to further militarize our campus, however teachers should comply with (and in most cases go beyond) the same expectations we set for students.

On Monday our administration will present using the back door of the school near the parking lot as a “teacher only entrance”. I personally will continue to use the front door. Although physically less convenient, it is morally more appropriate. Why should we waste more funds (the security guard watching the door must get paid) perpetuating further inequality?

On the day of the random searches, although I disagree with the how the problem is being addressed, I do whole heartedly agree there is a problem. I will comply. I will model correct behavior for the benefit of the students watching me. But I will also start researching and calling for real solutions. Students should never have to wake up and consider bringing a weapon to school. This must stop.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” AristotleGreek critic, philosopher, physicist, & zoologist (384 BC - 322 BC)


Anonymous said...

I don't get what faculty going in through a separate entrance will help anything.

Anonymous said...

This is connected to larger questions of equity between those who have power and those who do not. I appreciate your sensitivity to detail (they say that's where "GOD" is). Something seemingly unimportant like "a back door for teachers" becomes one of the many aggregates of subtle oppression (which also include tone of voice, behavior, body posture) that, when collected together, can manifest in forms of education for obedience as opposed to education for liberation.

Anonymous said...

A very powerful and eyeopening statement made by Anonymous #2. By providing a separate entrance for staff we now put ourselves in a catagory where we can hide what we bring (don't many of us have cellphones and use them in the building?)and make the statement that we are above reproach. Is this the message we want to send our students?

Who else but Brown could be so sensitieve to detail as to seemingly be where "God" is?