Every day now I wonder what I would do for children if they were taken down by police in front of me in a school building. In the Spring Valley video, the adults appeared to stand by. In this video in another school, two women clear the area to prevent interference as the police take down a student.
As a teacher, administrator, consultant in schools, I have been driven to protect and nurture children and the people who work for their well being. I have tried, not always successfully, to stop emotional abuse and humiliation. I have not faced physical assault on students by adults. I imagine this would be the test of who I am beyond my rational thinking, beyond my professional training. Would I stay safe or would I take a stand?
What do we teach our children in order to stay safe when staying safe can’t only mean submitting—in the long run, everyone needs to know how to have a voice and be a person and survive and thrive?
When I see black folks talking about how much that girl deserved to be assaulted and slammed to the ground because “these kids have no respect,” all I can think of is an aging field woman nursing the wounds of her young daughter. She’s applying various remedies and dressings to her daughter’s bloodied open back after the young girl was tied to a tree and publicly flogged by her white master. And, as the woman whispers the name of Jesus and doctors on the body of her frail child, she offers no words of comfort other than one thought which absolves the white man of guilt and lays it all at the feet of the broken girl – “See there…I done told you ’bout sassin’ him.” George Arnett (outwithgeorge scroll down for the rest of his post)
While its big news that President Obama says there should just be one standardized test for students to take, there is something more basic we need to attend to if our children in public schools, much less on our streets, stand a chance.
The real high stakes for any of us is what we do when we see others brutalized, their rights trampled, their children hurt. The real high stakes test of a school is what happens to children’s growth and development.
Who are we when it comes down to it?
The police cars in my city say: to serve and protect.