The thoughts of a writer.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Schools Have Violence & Racial Issues Too

A reoccurring theme in the news recently, involves violence in schools. The Ramsey County Attorney is involved as well as St. Paul Schools. In many ways, I feel like this is taking way too long to address—as I lived through these issues more than a decade ago. The issues I am referring to are about violence, bad behavior, racial accusations and the political backlash that prevents resolution to the core problems.
   While working in county social services in Minneapolis, racial discrimination lawsuits were common and often the biggest trouble-makers used the political backlash to their advantage. Later, while working in the detention room of a south suburban school district and also in the ALC, I saw that indeed there was a disparity in discipline; because school administrators were terrified of racial discrimination allegations. I had access to all discipline data and noticed that a particular offence (i.e. telling a teacher to "F-off”) was handled based on the race of the offender. White kids received out-of-school suspension for 3 days and non-white kids received in-school-detention (which is where I worked). It was completely political as to the punishment levied.
   As a society, we are now seeing this same thing at work as protests erupt anytime an individual of color comes out on the bad end of an encounter with law enforcement. This is not to say that there have not been cases where police reacted inappropriately; yet the current prevailing issue is that whether in a police stop or in a school building, those who are supposed to be in charge (and have the authority) are unable to correct bad behavior for fear of political ramifications and legal action. Until everyone is treated the same, until everyone is held to the same standard for appropriate behavior, until everyone is expected to behave responsibly and appropriately no matter their color, race, religion or demographic, we will continue to have violence in our schools and on our streets—because no one is allowed to stop it without being second-guessed by someone waving the "race card."
   When I was detention monitor in a middle school, I was threatened regularly by a 300 lb., kid who was in SpecEd; who was placed in detention when the SpecEd people could no longer handle him. At those times he was my problem and school administrators would not back me up—because the kid's mother had an attorney ready and willing to press a racial discrimination case at a moment's notice. As I have said before, this gets down to families, parenting and attitudes—of people of all colors! Some white people perpetuate the untruths to demonstrate that they are somehow more enlightened than other white people who don't play up to the politics of race. Some people of color have found political power in placing the blame on law enforcement and school officials and those whom have been entrusted to keep us and our children safe.
   We need to start accepting and seeing the truth as it really is; not how it appears on some protest sign or some chant or from some lawyer who wants to use this societal dysfunction to make more money. We need truth! Until we can all work together and agree that everyone needs to accept responsibility for their own behavior, we will have teachers beaten by teenagers and finally no one will want to be a teacher or a cop anymore—when we need them the most. —KJC

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