Now, before you start the chants of police brutality and all that, ask yourself a simple question -
How did it get to a point that an officer had to be called in to the classroom in the first place?
The student in question took out her phone during class. This is generally frowned upon in just about every classroom in the nation. Apparently the teacher asked for the phone. This is SOP in schools around the nation. The student refused, (again, SOP) and an administrator was called in. Rinse and repeat.
For those of you keeping score, this student has at this point broken a fairly standard class rule and has refused two attempts to hand over the phone.
So a cop gets called in and things get ugly.
Just to be clear I am in no way defending the cop, but this gets back to my original question – Why was an officer needed to settle something as petty as a cell phone dispute?
There are a few forces at work here.
- In some schools teachers and staff are expected to give no quarter in discipline issues. The idea is that if you kill the small stuff straight away the big stuff doesn’t have a chance to happen.
- Teachers and staff are not allowed to touch students for any reason. My favorite example of this from when I was teaching K-12 – A bee made it into the room and one of the students started chasing it while screaming “I’m allergic to bees!” In an attempt to keep said student from harm I held the student back and out of the room. The student decided to get me in trouble and turn me in to the authorities. I was lucky and had a principal that backed me up in public but in private told me to never do that again. I asked point blank if I was to let the student get stung next time and the answer was “yes”. This leads to number two.
- Teachers get no respect. Combine this with the fact that their hands are tied you end up with teachers with no real ability to enforce discipline in the classroom. This creates a situation where any attempt to enforce basic classroom rules is met with an attitude of fuck off from the students and parents. At this point the inmates run the asylum and a big part of this transition happened thanks to parents that threaten to sue the schools over every perceived insult to their child’s supposed greatness. (Apparently they never read Lord of the Flies.)
- Most students that are “digital natives” are addicted to their tech and are honestly deathly afraid of being without it. They truly think that if they do not answer a text right away their friends will hate them forever. When given the choice of handing over the phone for an hour or take a referral and official disciplinary action in my experience nine out of ten students will take the referral. It is actually rather sad when you see it in action.
- Many teenagers are incredibly self-centered. This comes partly from the fact that teenagers are for the most part self-centered. Throw in parents that have special snowflake syndrome into the mix and you have students that see absolutely no problem with disrupting others to answer a text or call in the middle of class.
All the student had to do was hand over the phone. She had more than one opportunity but instead doubled down on the thought of the ever falsely persecuted teenager – “I did nothing wrong!” Even better, she could have waited an hour until the end of class to pull out her phone.