Friday, June 24, 2016

Well-Meaning School Officials (and Others into Control)

"He got a clipboard and a whistle and went crazy."
— Joke about guys newly in authority, ca. 1960

            In usefully discussing proposals to "hard block" various social media in county schools, my local newspaper, The Ventura County Star, referred to "well-meaning officials" who want to censor — often with good cause — what students, as students, can access.
            As one who attended an American grammar school and high school, and who taught for forty years in public universities, let me throw in a bit of background.
            The one time I taught at a maximum-security prison, I had a weird feeling like déjà vu. The Southern Ohio Correction Facility at Lucasville reminded me of something; and then it clicked: Lucasville Maximum reminded me of high school. Especially when people talk about "lockdowns," consider the possibility that modern American prisons can appear like high schools, and modern American high schools can be rather like prisons.
            More immediately, add that "well-meaning" officials can also be control freaks and that a fair number of high school administrators come from coachly backgrounds that encourage authoritarian control.

            There is much to be said for controlling kids for their own good; but whenever school officials say that that is what they're up to, kids and their parents should get very, very suspicious.

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