Following the Spring Valley High assault news yesterday, I searched for student perspective from students at that school. As expected, there was a ton of discussion about the young lady being violently wrestled and tossed across the room. What I didn’t expect to see was their passionate pleas that people quit making this incident about race. They were completely adamant that the officer responsible wasn’t racist but an equal opportunity violent man who once did the same thing to a pregnant girl who happened to be white. According to them, he tossed all kids with reckless abandon. They said, and I quote…
“This isn’t about race but about an enraged police officer who didn’t need to be working in a school.”
We can argue the point about race for days on end and even say that perhaps these kids live in the same bubble that many of our kids live in….kids who are so removed from the historical aspect of racial violence that they lack the understanding of the emotional distress of seeing a young black girl tossed across the room. Maybe they lack the ability to make the statistical connection between discipline practices pertaining to students of color compared to white students.
Or…perhaps they are right and in their eyes…in their community, it’s not about race. We have to respect that just as much as we have to respect student voice in every other aspect of their learning and growth.
With that said, there are those that saw that video and immediately questioned what that student did to provoke this situation. There were those that immediately saw that she was black and placed her in the same box that they do every other “loud black girl”. Perhaps she was being disruptive, they said. She should have just been cooperative. She should have left the room. She should have done what she was told and when she didn’t that officer had no choice but to toss her out like the garbage man puts away the trash.
…but, it’s not about race, right?
In looking deeper, I saw testimonials from kids who said that she was new to the class and didn’t speak. Others said that they had no idea why this happened. Conflicting reports said that she was chewing gum or had her cell phone and refused to participate in class. I found it alarming that a girl causing “disruptions” wasn’t really being disruptive when the kids in the class had to question what she did to get to that point.
This is where the “teacher in me” comes out. I would like to rewind back to the moment that the teacher decided to toss the young lady from class for doing something that none of the students around her could account for. I would like to know why that was even an option. What was their policy that allowed this to occur?
I had kids that refused to do work and I didn’t toss them from class or call an administrator to force their hand. You wait. You carry on as normal and you wait…especially when that kid is new to the class and doesn’t know kids or what to expect. You wait and you talk and eventually….you get to the kid.
Especially when that kid is non-disruptive.
That’s what you do when your ego doesn’t get in the way of your decision making.
Unless the kid disrupts…talks back…gets volatile.
But that didn’t happen…did it?
I don’t have to wonder what that teacher felt about this student and that saddens me.