Friday, January 11, 2008

The Impact of Scanning on a School

Updated 11am: See Gary Babad's comment below

We know the fear there is out there about weapons, etc., especially since Columbine. Though if those guys wanted to do the same even with scanning, no one would have stopped them unless they were scanned first outside the grounds of the school.

Many schools have scanning every day and there are always reports of the impact, from having to stand outside for a half hour and missing their first class, to the dehumanizing aspects.

The report below is from a school in eastern Queens with a higher proportion of middle class parents, who often seem to be the most outraged at how their children are being treated. It is often pointed out that there seem to be few complaints from parents in the poorer inner city but that may be due to a complex set of reasons.

I've heard more from teachers, generally on the left, who object to the degrading dance the poorest, most at-risk students must go through. Given the general conditions, even before scanning, the number of weapons used in attacks by students seemed pretty low compared to the population, but it is understandable that safety is on people's minds.

But when you throw police into the mix, with an all-too-often attitude of perps and peeps - we've heard of kids getting arrested for refusing to take off their hats – a more hostile environment is created. Ed Notes has been opposed to police in the schools, which can make a bad situation worse and that as much as possible, educators who at least have some modicum of experience in dealing with kids on a regular basis, should be left to address these issues. But schools must be given the educator (rather than police) resources to do the job adequately and as painlessly as possible.

You'll note below that the principal of John Bowne did not seem happy when the scanning was imposed on the school. Didn't BloomKlein give principals all that power and shouldn't the decision to bring in scanners have been left to him? As you can see, at least he is to some extent responsible to a PTA, which we're sure would be abolished by BloomKlein ( I wonder how the anti-parent policies of Bloomberg would play in the hinterlands in a presidential campaign?)

Frankly, in today's pressure cooker environment in schools, it's more likely for a teacher to go postal.

A report from a parent on the nyceducationnews listserve:

At John Bowne's PTA meeting last nite, the issue of scanning was brought up by the principal. We had scanning on Dec. 17. I asked what the attendance was for that day and the principal said the drop was between 18 and 23%. He was not a happy camper about the whole situation either. He estimated that the overtime alone cost the school about $10,000.00. And he was also not happy about the disruption to the education process. He had deans, APs, secretaries, teachers, etc. bagging and tagging electronic devices? Another mom asked what was confiscated, other than eds - 2 pockets knives, a box cutter and a couple bags of pot. The principal said that he made 4 announcements yesterday that eds would not be tolerated and hoped that the kids got the hint that scanning was going to be done today (but we didn't hear that from him). When I got home, I asked my daughter about the announcements and she didn't ge the hints. However, she promptly started texting and sending out My Space alerts to her friends. Sure enough, this AM, the outside of the school was crawling with (what I assumed) police officers (another waste of our tax dollars) and school security officers.

Gary Babad adds:
For anyone who has not seen it, the NYCLU report, "Criminalizing the Classroom" is a comprehensive look at this issue, with history and some chilling anecdotes, but also a set of alternative proposals for maintaining school security. One can navigate to and download the entire PDF file.

No comments: