Friday, June 23, 2006

School Materials As Weapons

You know things are bad when a school doesn't allow students to take home school materials out of fear that they'll be used as weapons:
CHICAGO -- When the school day ends at Cook County's temporary juvenile detention center, hundreds of students must leave essential education tools behind: their textbooks.

Such centers commonly prohibit the unsupervised use of hardcover books and basic school supplies like pencils out of concern the youths could use the items for violence.

Child welfare advocates, however, say the rules can create a prison-like atmosphere that discourages rehabilitation. "Any facility ought to be safe and secure enough for kids to have books," said Betsy Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative.

This month, a judge appointed a former state corrections official to oversee changes at the detention center, stemming from a 2002 settlement of a lawsuit that claimed the facility was mismanaged.

Juvenile advocates say some of the problems cited in the lawsuit extended into the center's classrooms.

"Teachers consistently said they do not assign homework because staff do not allow the youths to bring books or even pages to come back up the unit," the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative concluded after reviewing practices at the facility in December.

Jerry Robinson, superintendent of the detention center, said the assessment was unfair because access to education tools is restricted, but not banned.

"They have the ability to get a pencil," Robinson said. "They can write letters. We just control it so (the pencil) is not kept in the room."
There's more to read in the whole thing.

As bad as things are here in California's "Imperial" Valley, I cannot imagine teaching at a campus where I have to fear violence from the students.

All teachers who serve students in America's prisons, jails, and juvenile institutions certainly have our respect.
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