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16 May 2004

What's Today's Vocabulary Word? C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L

This article made me feel ill. It's a description of some of the typical practices in an elementary school in Los Angeles, with a student base of - surprise - children of colour living in poverty. And being "educated" in a prison.
"The bullhorn blares across the yard. Young Latinos and African Americans quickly scan their surroundings, noticing the many faces that watch them. A chain-link fence, 20 feet high, surrounds them on three sides. Dutifully, they fall into place in line. Heads up, hands clasped behind their backs, shoulders straight. Most know better than to talk. A few test the rules and murmur among themselves. "You're wasting my time!" barks the attendant. Rumpled play dollars are doled out to the well behaved; order is maintained through this token economy. Thus begins their day.
"A day at boot camp? A day in juvenile hall?
"No. This is elementary school. First grade. Our inmates are 6 years old. They are not criminals. Small and wiry, these are children whose usual offenses are pulling braids or not sharing Hot Cheetos. The children must walk in straight lines. Hands must remain behind their backs, as though in handcuffs. The high fences separate them from the outside, physically and symbolically.
"What does it mean when you are 6 and your school is run like a prison?"
Link found at Talk Left.

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