Tuesday, August 21

Student Thought: How do we solve the security problem?

For anyone who thought our schools were on a constant (albeit slow) path to excellence, here is some disturbing news. Today, Fox reported that the number of "persistently dangerous" schools in New York under the No Child Left Behind Act has raised from 18 to 27 this year. Twenty-five of these schools are in New York City.

The question now is how to deal with this? It is a serious problem. It seems from that dramatic increase in the number of schools on the list, our current strategies are not working. Students from Urban Youth Collaborative, a coalition of 10 activist organizations, present an interesting argument against our current security measures. From their website:

When we walk into school the first thing we see is a metal detector cops and x-ray machines that the city believes will help the kids and the school...We believe what the city does in our schools actually makes kids want to be more violent. It doesn't give us any privacy at all, and it just scares us. Having so many cops in one building intimidates and agitates student and increases tension rather than decreasing it.
The NYC Student Union, a citywide student run education advocacy group, has also been lobbying government officials including Governor Spitzer's policy director about the issue.

Students from all ends of the city feel this tension. Even at specialized high schools, students complain about being "herded" away from the school after dismissal.

However, we need something more creative then just a lessening of current security; that would also create fear. Students, school safety agents, city officials and all of the other groups that have a stake in our schools need to work together to craft policies that foster better relationships between safety agents and students. This means revising policies that alienate students and examining alternative security methods for safety agents. Most of all, this means giving these two groups a chance to talk openly about the problem and have a say in the policies that so heavily influence their relationship.

As of now, we don't have any answers to this security crisis. What we have tried has not worked. We do know, however, that creating an atmosphere of trust is the first step. What do you think?

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