Don’t Treat A Cop Like a Teacher

So to build on an idea from my last post:

Unlike most people who aren’t police officers, many high school teachers, particularly those in high poverty areas, can say they know what it’s like to be faced with a furious teenager who might possibly be armed, high, both–or, as is usually the case, neither.

As one of those teachers, I know, for example, that when Ezra Klein says Darren Wilson’s story about Michael Brown’s actions is simply not credible, Ezra’s either showing his white privilege or simply not credible himself.

However, I also know that when others claim that Darren Wilson had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger simply because a large black teenager was charging him, well, not so much. Not simply from that.

The sequence of events: 1) Brown mouthing off and refusing to get out of middle of street, 2) Wilson moving his car to block Brown and Johnson, 3) Brown attacking Wilson in his car, hitting him and grabbing for his gun, 4) Brown running away, 5) Brown turning around and charging.

If I leave out the gun grab and play out that same sequence of events, I still envision Wilson shooting Brown. A nearly 300 pound young man was charging a police officer after having assaulted him in the car. Of course it was reasonable to shoot Michael Brown. The kid was out of control. Who wouldn’t feel endangered in that situation, in fear of his life?

Well, high school teachers in high poverty schools, for one. My employment has been in relatively mild Title I schools*, but I have frequently faced down angry, hostile, potentially violent teens. I know teachers who’ve had kids get violent, and the stats back this up: 3-5% of teachers are physically attacked. And surely most teachers in high poverty schools have spent time trying hard to talk down a potentially violent kid, even if Plan B is throw something and leave the room. Better that than screwing up his life by assaulting a teacher.

But then there’s the grab for the gun. This excellent comment from cro on my last post agrees with everything I know from frequent viewing of Numb3rs episodes: taking a law enforcement officer’s gun is a Very Bad Thing. Cro, my police officer commenter, says “…you are under orders to kill that person if necessary to retain your weapon.”

I have no reason to doubt cro–hey, he’s an anonymous commenter on my blog!–but if he is correct, then Darren Wilson had a second line of defense that hasn’t gotten as much play. This defense is not a “reasonable person” defense, but a “cop defense”. Attempts to take a police officer’s gun are punishable by deadly force.

My own belief, and I’m certainly not unique on this point, is that cops consider non-compliance a deadly force situation. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Michael Bell all died because they didn’t comply with police officers.

But “look, the guy didn’t do what I told him” isn’t a viable line of defense if the actions come under scrutiny, so instead these legal fictions are constructed, in which juries can consider a cop just a normal guy who was in fear of his life.

My effort to unpack Michael Brown’s actions and Wilson’s defense is not intended as an attack on police officers. Nor am I saying that teachers and cops have similar responsibilities or face similar dangers.

I’m just trying to resolve the paradox. It doesn’t seem credible that Darren Wilson thought he would die simply because Michael Brown hit him and then was charging at him. If an angry, irrational, violent teenager can so easily put an armed police officer in fear of his life, then many countries should be re-evaluating the regular danger that his teachers and oh by the way the other students at his school live in every day. And few schools have just one kid like that.

A DA who wanted to shoot down (oops, unintended) Wilson’s claim that he feared for his life might have subpoenaed teachers from Michael Brown’s high school, an extremely violent environment which had recently graduated Michael Brown, and asked them about a typical day. That would be an interesting switch, wouldn’t it? Usually witnesses testify to what a great guy the victim was, the “gentle giant” in Brown’s case. Instead, bring on teachers who say “Yeah, he’s just a wild guy. Always going off, threw things at teachers when they pissed him off. But he always calmed down and took his suspension like a good sport. Scared? Naw. It’s pretty common at this school.”

It might be more difficult to convince a jury that Darren Wilson was endangered if unarmed, middle-aged teachers described getting a faceful of pepper spray while trying break up a fight between two girls. Such testimony might cause questions about a 6’4″ police officer’s claim that his pepper spray and night stick weren’t sufficient self-defense, given his choice not to carry a taser.

But such testimony would make it harder to sell the polite fiction of “reasonable belief” while actually upholding the unwritten rule that says, “obey the cops or sh** happens”. This rule holds true even if you’re a Presidential pal; Henry Gates and the President no doubt expected far worse to befall James Crowley for arresting a quarrelsome, disobedient Gates than a forced beer summit, until poll numbers caused President Obama to change course.

Obviously, all sorts of vested interests aren’t terribly interested in observing this contrast. I’m personally not certain we’re better off in a country where we all don’t fear cops, so perhaps preserving the polite fiction is the best of several bad options.

But then you have the disconnect, a dilemma captured by Robert Heinlein (thanks to commenter Mark Roulo for the reminder). Kids who live in poverty receive profoundly mixed messages about adults in authority. Angry, sometimes violent, adolescents attend high schools and are rarely if ever killed on campus for being a threat. Yet at the wrong time, in the wrong situation, these young men can be killed by police officers, supposedly for threatening the officers lives, more likely for being defiant and violent in ways not dramatically different from their high school behavior. Thus my observation, “One might say Michael Brown is dead because he was foolish enough to treat a cop like a teacher.”

So from here I see two clear questions.

First, does the systemic bias towards forgiveness and second chances in public schools create additional dangers for adolescents who get the wrong idea about the role of state authority in their lives?

Second, does the fact that teachers can handle the same students that cops claim put them in danger point to ways in which cops could mitigate their harsh reaction to defiance without using their guns? Leave aside, for the moment, the legitimate question as to whether it would diminish police authority. If Darren Wilson hadn’t had a gun, does anyone really believe he’d be dead instead of Brown?

I have my own thoughts on the first question, some of which I’ve discussed obliquely.** My thoughts do not include any foolhardy notions that school choice, accountability, higher test scores, or the insane notion of corporal punishment will help us find the path towards salvation.

I have some thoughts on the second point, too, since I do believe Darren Wilson would have survived Michael Brown’s charge without a gun.

However, let’s get caricatures out of the way. Cro reminds me that most cops, like teachers, often look for ways to defuse situations. I agree, and never thought otherwise. I do not see police officers as tyrannical bruisers, polar opposites to kind and tolerant teachers.

But then Cro starts his comment with an equally ridiculous caricature, conflating teachers with social workers. Um, no.

Old joke I first read in a Dick Francis novel:

“A man was beaten and robbed by thieves, left bleeding and unconscious in a gutter. Two sociologists came along, gasped in horror. One said to the other, ‘The man who did this needs our help.'”

I can’t speak for sociologists and social workers, but anyone who thinks this caricature applies to teachers isn’t paying attention. High poverty schools don’t offer cottony platitudes of love and understanding, supporting and excusing victims for all their actions. They have a wide range of reactions and consequences: some planned, some spur of the moment, and some forced on them by public policy. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of cro’s comment are just insanely off-base. I know many reformers think this way as well, think that “No Excuses” philosophy is something public schools reject because they don’t want to be mean.

Begin by assuming that cops and teachers have a great deal in common when working with at risk populations, but have widely different constraints.

The question, to me, is to what degree do we want to tighten constraints on police or loosen the constraints on public education? Is there a way we can do this that will help at risk teenagers get the multiple chances they sometimes need to get it right, without putting their lives at risk or endangering public safety?

I’m not sure any solutions get past “do what the cop says, or else”. But perhaps our priorities will change. As John Podoretz wrote, after the Wilson non-indictment, “Americans have often responded to an era of relative calm by deciding that the authorities have been too restrictive and cruel — resulting in a subsequent period in which greater laxity led to higher rates of crime.” If there was a way to thread the needle, to be authoritative without as much cruelty, without it leading to more crime (which I agree is a risk), that’s a discussion worth having.


*My view, entirely anecdotal: Dealing with kids who’ve been ensconced in homogenous, multi-generational, welfare-reliant poverty is a very different and more difficult task than working with kids equally poor, but living in a racially and socio-economically diverse area. This difference is not related to test scores, and of course both highly motivated and incredibly unmanageable kids are found in both groups. Again anecdotally, the violence is much less of a problem in the second group. This is why it’s harder to set up charters for the suburban poor–both kids and parents tend, on average, to like their schools.


  1. Start with Besides, public schools are held accountable in all sorts of ways to the end,
  2. Start with charter schools succeed because of their ability to control students, not teachers to the end.

About educationrealist

48 responses to “Don’t Treat A Cop Like a Teacher

  • KunTewk

    I can think of numerous methods that teachers might use in the event that a student was acting violent, that, if used by a police officer, would result in reprimand. Other than calling the cops, a teacher might tell the student to go to the principle’s office, knowing full well that the student can easily leave the school. For the cops, of course, taking the suspect into custody is a non-negotiable. Even in the case of simple jaywalking, if an officer tells someone to do something, that person refuses, and the officer just let’s it go without further action or comment, the officer will be reprimanded. Officers must attempt to enforce compliance. In contrast, if a student starts tearing up books, the teacher can easily simply say “don’t do that,” call the principal, and then sit at his desk waiting uneasily for help to arrive. In the case of a student threatening violence a teacher might order his students to leave the classroom, and then leave himself.

    Suppose that when Brown charged him, Darren Wilson had the opportunity to run away.(I’m not saying that was the case in reality, I don’t know) Would he have? In that situation cops are trained not to retreat. Imagine what burden it would be if they were. A cop arrives on the scene of a robbery, and sees the unarmed suspect. “Hands in the air,” he yells. The robber knows he has two choices, surrender to the cop or turn the other way and run, knowing he’ll be chased by the cop. He knows that if he charges the cop he will get shot. But what if he knew that the cops would be trained to turn and run? Then he might choose to charge the cop, and when the second cop arrived on the scene he would charge him too. Only when the fifth cop arrives on the scene he would be able to use a non-lethal tazer to bring the robber down. A “duty to retreat” for cops would result in a few less Youths being shot by police each year, but would also result in substantial mayhem by making it much harder for cops to do their jobs.

    So it’s not just that teachers can’t act as a cop might act, cops are also forbidden from acting as a teacher might act.

    • educationrealist

      Second paragraph is complete failure to comprehend.

      First paragraph is kind of the point. So you might want to mull that further.

      Look, any other commenters who think I’m suggesting that we let cops just allow criminals to do whatever…don’t waste my time or yours with a comment.

      • Steve

        Sure lets totally forget the part of Gentle Mike beating up an Asian liquor store clerk on the robbery video then walking away and charging back at the clerk 10 min before he was shot when Officer Wilson shot him with the stolen goods. Gentle Mike’s school has to have metal detectors because the whitopia school near me does as well, no metal detectors on the street. If you watch the full liquor store robbery video you will see that the middle “hands up” witness not only all participated in the robbery but had on a big gold/yellow bracelet in the robbery that was on the ground next to the cop car afterwards.
        If you haven’t seen the little Asian liquor store clerk being charged at while he lays on the floor you have not see the full video.

  • WowJustWow

    Your comparison should give pause to those who say we should let teachers carry guns to take down the evil white boys who start shooting up their school. They might stop a few Dylan Klebolds from acting out their violent fantasies, but then you’ll have Michael Browns staring at the gun on the teacher’s hip day after day…

    • educationrealist

      Well, that’s what I said in my last post. It’s insane to give teachers guns. If we’re allowed to shoot whenever we think we’re in danger, bang! Plus, as you say, then there’s all the fear of the kids getting the guns to shoot the teachers.

    • Steve

      Oddly when non Asian minorities shoot up their schools it doesn’t even get mentioned on main stream news. Did you know that 2 weeks after the Ferguson liquor store robber was killed a serial killer that killed gays in 3 states using social media app grinder to find them & did it in the name of religion was caught? If the races/religions where reversed Mohammad Ali Brown would be (Skittles X MatShepard) squared

  • Steve Sailer

    Private schools usually employ a few intimidating men, often sports coaches, as disciplinarians to back up teachers.

  • tteclod

    ” If Darren Wilson hadn’t had a gun, does anyone really believe he’d be dead instead of Brown?”


    For reasons I personally cannot fathom, we continue to operate under the premise that men cannot kill other men without firearms, despite a few millennia evidence to the contrary. Were Michael Brown in school, and grabbed a chemistry teacher’s sample of sodium in a jar of oil, and made to throw it at another student, I suspect deadly force might be justified. Perhaps that’s why one can’t find sodium, or firearms, at school. The quality of public school student has inexplicably degraded beneath the level at which such students may be trusted with sodium and firearms. So much for education.

    I am also somewhat confused how we have come to expect students graduating high school will be prepared for service in the armed forces if we can’t expect better than strong-arm robberies and violent confrontations with police from these same students. Perhaps that explains, in part, why Brown was headed to a trade school and not boot camp.

    All that said, you have a great notion regarding investigating his high-school record. Alas, I seriously doubt that is available for public review, even after Brown’s death.

    • tteclod

      Correction: there is a thing called the Missouri Sunshine Law that may be adequate to obtain some info about Brown.

    • educationrealist

      “For reasons I personally cannot fathom, we continue to operate under the premise that men cannot kill other men without firearms, despite a few millennia evidence to the contrary. ”

      Well, since no one I know operates under the premise that people need guns to kill, you’re the one deluded by a premise.

      Not surprisingly, you miss the point as well: Brown could, theoretically, have killed Wilson. The point is whether that’s a likely outcome, whether someone who never managed to kill a much less imposing or physically prepared teacher would suddenly prove ready to rip a cop apart with his hands.

      You are somewhat confused, full stop.

      • tteclod

        Ah, therein lies the problem. You assume you know your students well enough to predict their competence. That whole premise collapses whenever you choose to administer exams.

        Does anybody know whether Brown killing Wilson is an unlikely outcome? Let’s examine the evidence.

        1. Brown sought Wilson’s gun. Perhaps he wanted to empty is of cartridges as a protest. Perhaps not.
        2. Brown, after fleeing, after Wilson fired round from his firearm, turned ’round and charged Wilson. Perhaps he intended to give Wilson a hug. Perhaps not.
        3. Brown disregarded social mores and custom, as well as his own safety, walking the middle of a busy city street. Perhaps he hoped to start a spontaneous (unpermitted) mass protest against police violence. Perhaps not.
        4. Brown was accompanied by another man, also walking down the middle of the street, also disputing Wilson’s order. Perhaps he would aid the policeman in distress if Brown tried to murder him. Perhaps not.

        All that’s just the bits Wilson knows. Given the circumstances, Wilson waited about as long as any teacher might dare wait, unless he presumes that once the student starts beating him, he will magically stop.

        Which says nothing about the power dynamic in a classroom where a student might choose to beat a teacher, yet expect an education afterward.

        Also, what is it with the phrase, “Full stop?” To whom are you signalling? Here, let me try.

        “You are confused.”

        See, no adjectives or idioms required.

      • educationrealist

        Full stop means there’s no point in seeking to deal with your confusion.

        The rest of your post is one big ol rationalization.

      • Steve

        You do know that the bracelet Johnson was seen wearing in the liquor store robbery video had both Wilson’s and Johnson’s DNA on it. All of the “Hands Up” where part of the liquor store robbery so it was not just one cop vs. one liquor store robbing felon(from 9 months earlier), but the entire pack of “witnesses”

  • anonymousse

    You make some interesting points, but I think fundamentally you are mistaken. Specifically, your argument is (roughly), teachers put up with just as much as cops, and diffuse the situations better. Therefore, cops should learn/behave more like teachers.

    The problem with this is that your argument assumes that the teacher response is the appropriate response. I (and many people) disagree. If teachers are regularly being assaulted in the same way that Officer Wilson was being assaulted (but they handle it better), well, 1) the assaulting students should be kicked out, or 2) teachers should quit. In other words, if I had a son, or wife, or friend, who was a teacher under those circumstances, I would recommend he not be a teacher any longer (wow. to teach an inner city school, and earn maybe 60k a year, you regularly get punched in the side of the face? I recommend you quit and go sell insurance). Similarly, if I had someone close who was a police officer, and was required to let folks assault him (even without the grab for the gun-simply punch him in the head while sitting in his car), I’d recommend that person not be a police officer.

    I think not being punched in the side of the head for no reason is a pretty fundamental human right-as a private citizen, if someone punches me in the side of the head for unjustified reasons, I should reasonably expect that person to be punished by the state. If inner city teachers have to endure that often, something fundamental has to change. Arguing that police should have to endure it (rather than that teachers shouldn’t) is really getting it backwards.


  • Roger Sweeny

    I’d forgotten how much good stuff was in those two old posts.

  • cro

    I can read enough context into an essay or a conversation to understand what was not implied. I don’t think anyone would think what I’m correcting below really was misunderstood. Nonetheless I have to be picky about one thing in particular. I think I would re-word ‘cops consider non-compliance a deadly force situation’ to, ‘cops consider *some* non-compliance to be a deadly force situation’.

    Other than that I have a few other brief observations:

    1. In general, I agree with Ed Realist’s view that teachers should not be armed. If you have a deadly weapon (and yes anything can be, but guns aren’t designed to also do anything else) you have to able to retain it and possibly kill someone to do that. As I stated in an earlier comment; Do we expect teacher’s to do that? Simply having a deadly weapon around makes using it more likely. Bringing me to point 2…

    2. I actually agree that if there had been no gun, Micael Brown and Darren Wilson might BOTH be alive today. The gun necessitated violence in this situation. If someone tries to take a police baton from a cop during a fight, they may try to use it on the cop or others. It can easily be a deadly weapon. But death is much less sure and certain than someone firing a gun into your body multiple times at point-blank range. I would still use violence to retain my baton in a fight. I might very well use deadly force, but the nature of batons gives me more options. If I stay out of reach, it can’t get me. Me or anyone else out of range of the baton. Or any stick. Guns can unintentionally kill people miles away when fired. If someone fighting me tries to take my gun I am automatically in a deadly force situation and must react to it as though someone is trying to kill me. (I am assuming this to be a real fight, not someone who has no chance of actually taking my weapon.) I have seen a few real fights and without weapons people often do not walk away. They have to be carried. Permanent or long-lasting bodily harm is done to them. The consequences never go away. But MOST people, even enraged, very unreasonable, criminal people generally stop before killing someone. Perhaps they die later, perhaps they have injuries that never really heal completely, but they live. Dominance, not death is the usual goal of fighting.

    Without a gun Darren Wilson doesn’t have to pull the trigger to retain the gun. That simple. Michael Brown can’t get a gun he has no access to. Now there still might easily have been a deadly force situation (legally when someone is in danger of recieving or needing to help someone from recieving , ‘great bodily harm’ deadly force can and often is used to stop it.) but with no gun there might very likely had been no death that day. I do not suggest cops don’t carry guns. If someone wants to cause me or someone else ‘great bodly harm’ neither I nor anyone else should have to put up with that and that includes killing someone to prevent it. But had there been no gun I doubt the fight would have unfolded the same way. The fight over the gun, and I am assuming there was one, was the defining moment in the incident.

    3. Ed realist if you don’t mind I’d like more detail and granularity in your critique of what was ridiculous or bad in the third and fourth paragraphs of my earlier response. I’m interested in what you think and why. I admittedly painted your profession and a few others with the same broad brush and while I in part did it to provide a little brevity to an already too long post, I clearly oversimplied things. Nonetheless, what I said does hold true to at least some of what I’ve seen out people I know in the teaching profession. I should have said, ‘I have seen this type of behavior in my own experience consistently in the social work profession with reletively few exceptions’ and then asked if it were fairly typical when dealing with ‘troubled’ students in secondary schools. I’d like to read your thoughts on the matter. Also I like critisisms that can be ‘negative’. When someone doesn’t have to frame their critique in words that avoid making someone feel badly, they can be more direct and often, more accurate.

    Thank you!

    • educationrealist


      If we agree that both would *probably* be alive if Wilson hadn’t had a gun, what does that mean? It seems to me to mean in part that Wilson’s reason for shooting wasn’t self-defense (the polite fiction) but cop reasons (keep the gun, ensure no one gets comfortable attacking police).

      “Nonetheless, what I said does hold true to at least some of what I’ve seen out people I know in the teaching profession.”

      This part here:

      ” Teachers at first usually, and then a combination of teachers, social workers, and case managers come up with various ‘treatment’ and ‘goals’ for the child/teenager to strive for in their behavior. If the child or teenager ‘acts out’ the members of one of the institutions staffed exclusively by graduates of an approved social-work or education school, or some form of ‘line-worker’ like a (youth care worker) that has been vetted for ‘professional disposition’ by one of those graduates will ‘confront’ the child or teenager about their behavior. It is these confrontations about behavior that lie at the source of the problem. They happen almost entirely on the child or teenagers terms. By design. ”

      Is simply a caricature. Now, there’s no question the caricature holds for the occasional school that goes all in on restorative justice (usually forced into it by their administration), but schools just simply can’t maintain this for long because the teachers object and discipline plummets. But teachers themselves, as a population, vehemently oppose such nonsense.

      Besides, the stats just don’t bear you out. If what you said were true, there would be no schools with metal detectors, with cops all over the place. There’d be no schools that criminalize kids for bad behavior (allowing the state to get the fees). Schools wouldn’t be in trouble for suspending a higher percentage of black and Hispanic kids. Most importantly, as bad as the worst schools are now, far more of them would be completely out of control if your description were the norm.

      What you describe is a common misperception, as I said. Many people believe that public schools just let kids run wild, try to understand the root cause of their behavior, and so on.

      • cro

        Normally I couldn’t disagree with your take on anything in your own profession, but in your second to last paragraph you pretty much described the schools in the county I work in. The schools aren’t completely out of control, but we definitely ‘chemically discipline’ the kids when they act too ‘rambunctiously’. The county’s daytime population is over a million, but at night it’s about two thirds of that. It’s a suburban county of a ‘major metropolitan’ area, but it’s of course a much smaller area population-wise than any major area in California. It’s basically typical a typical midwestern county in a metro area that can pick and choose its’ residents by a combination of housing prices and the fact that there is enough money to enforce all the laws. I will absolutely defer to your description of how teachers react and prefer to practice their craft and run their schools. But I really think we might be talking about two different things here.

        I actually did laugh out loud when I read that paragraph. As long as a teacher documents the behavior causing the behavior, they can get rid of the kid. But there will be the sequence I described with a structure and plan that looks like it’s built from therapy. The kid will attend alternative classes or possibly an alternative school. They WILL be on some form of prescription mood altering drugs. Many of the kids are on drugs because they are not performing academically well enough, not because they really had any behavioral problems like the ones that the drugs were designed for. (That last bit isn’t so much from something I read in a current periodical going over our latest collective neurotic worry, but daily interaction with the county mental health psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals. though I don’t interact with the psychiatrists much.)

        And I’m sorry, I got so distracted by the answer you gave I forgot the first point. I would say if you’re fighting a cop and you try to take our gun we always consider this to be self-defense. We have very little reason to think someone fighting us has a benevolent reason for taking a gun other than to hurt us or someone else.

        As far as ‘probably’ still be alive, well, I just think once the fight started Brown might well have beat the cop half to death, but even most criminals don’t simply beat people TO death. They stop short of it once they’ve ‘won’. Established dominance. I think the guy who steals cigars and shoves around storekeepers to rob them would likely if no deadly weapon was present simply beat someone up. Very badly possibly, but probably not to death. I can’t say he wouldn’t have one day, but how many thug, pretty-crooks don’t ever move on to murder? Well frankly, most don’t.

        Ok, completely intrigued now, how many midwestern cities have you been to? Which ones? I’m wondering how different this world might be from yours. It’s not that horrific crimes don’t take place here, they do. I get to deal with them fairly often, but when you described teachers facing danger in your area, well…we don’t do that here. The cops are called the instant any real violence is called and that child would be removed. There is typically a school resource officer present, but only ONE per high school I believe. If that. I’m actually going to call some friends this week to find out some stats on how often they have to break up fights, what crimes they deal with, etc. I do believe if teachers around my county thought their students were walking around with weapons and possibly a threat to them they’d refuse to go to work until the cops had done their jobs and removed that kid.

        Metal detectors? If we started using those the parents would go nuts here. We’ve had this discussion a few times (very briefly) but the common quiet agreement that is reached is that we will remove the problem kids, …and then cover ourselves by offering/forcing the therapeutic solutions and again, alternative educational environments.

        No, 103,000 students, no metal detectors. Except the one at the alternative school. I don’t know if that one is even plugged in though.

      • educationrealist

        My father lives in a major Midwestern area and as a second job drives a schoolbus. All of his kids are black and overwhelmingly poor. He’s one of the best drivers in the area, apparently, at keeping control without terrorizing the kids (and he does middle school). The kids are very difficult to control for most drivers. All the high poverty high schools in the area have metal detectors.

        High poverty schools consider “rambunctious” kids nothing but normal.

        Schools can’t require kids take drugs, at any level of income. And teachers can’t “get rid of kids”. What on earth are you talking about? They don’t have treatment plans, either. By all means, I’d love to see links from all these districts that talk about the kids’ treatment plans.

        In general most parents in high poverty environments would prefer metal detectors. They feel safer. I remember just recently reading that while some MO schools are dumping metal detectors, KC and other cities aren’t, at the parents request. And the schools that are dumping metal detectors are doing so against parent wishes.

        My first take on your description is to wonder if you work in a high poverty environment. You sound as if you are familiar with middle school kids in a middle class or higher area, where Ritalin keeps hyper boys calm. That’s not what I’m talking about.

        If you are describing what is the norm for your state in high poverty schools, then somehow the world has been completely unaware of a very weird area.

        While I’ve said consistently that I don’t mean to overstate my experience, I have been accosted by several kids who were pissed at me. At least 15 of my kids over the years have been suspended for having knives on campus (no guns that I know of). I’ve known a few teachers who’ve been assaulted, but only in minor ways. And I do not in any way consider my school dangerous or violent. It’s Title I, though, so there’s always some of it. In a previous post I described the chaotic behavior that was going on with a long-term sub–they were throwing things at her.

        “they’d refuse to go to work until the cops had done their jobs and removed that kid. ”

        No, they wouldn’t. Not if they wanted to keep their jobs. But then, if they worked in a dangerous school, there’d already be procedures.

      • educationrealist

        Adding to say:

        “but in your second to last paragraph you pretty much described the schools in the county I work in.”

        First–well, yeah. That’s my point. Pretty much EVERY school meets one of those criteria, because it’s a range.

        So perhaps you have a very skewed idea of what happens in schools, based on your either extremely unusual district or your incomplete understanding of same.

        Which was my point in the second essay–to have a meaningful discussion, we have to avoid caricatures. And what you described is a caricature. In your second elaboration, it sounds more like a mixed socioeconomic school district afraid of lawsuits. However, you were definitely generalizing from there in ways that simply weren’t going to help.

    • Steve

      Women can have under the bra “bust out” holsters. Unless the students are attacking her like the Obama Son did in Massachusetts weapon retention would be easy. Black guys grabbing your piece is harder if you conceal carry which cops open carry.

  • cro

    Good points. I’m trying to get some data from the SRO’s I know, but I’ll have to wait until I hear back from them. None of the schools in the county I’m working in are really in what I think you would call a poor or disadvantaged area. We do have title one schools, but I still wouldn’t call any of them ‘poor’. The school district with the highest ‘economically disadvantaged’ percentage of students (37%) has the greatest ethnic diversity with 65.5% of the kids white, 17% Hispanic, 9% African American, and 8.5% other. (Most of the ‘other’ are ‘Asian’).

    All other school districts skew heavily white, and I’d say their students tend toward ‘middle-class’ to upper middle class. (Depending on what your definition of that is.) The next poorest district is also the most ‘white’ with 35% ‘economically disadvantaged’ but it encompasses the largest rural area with a couple of the remaining couple of small towns that haven’t been absorbed into the suburban sprawl.

    I think there are good reasons for the anonymity usually shown of this blog especially on your part, but I don’t mind revealing that I’m in the Kansas City area and am familiar with the KC Mo school districts problems. I have friends who send their kids there. I’m on the suburban Kansas side and yes, there is a world of difference between the two areas.

    I know people who would never live on the Missouri side (Where Democrats control things) because they, “…don’t believe in Missouri” as in they don’t believe in the way things are ‘done there’.

    I bet I could fill in some of what your response will be here, thinking along the lines of, ‘Um, buddy, you live in a place that is nothing I’m talking about’ but instead I’ll just await a reply from my open ended question…


    • educationrealist

      Kansas City’s schools are massively failing, high poverty, and mostly black. They are famous for one of the most massive failures of overspending in American history, in an attempt to integrate schools and thus improve quality. The district lost accreditation.

      I had all that typed and then see that you’re on the Kansas side. Oh. Well, yeah.

      So when you talk to teachers, go talk to the ones on the Missouri side. Which is a district where the parents want metal detectors.

  • cro

    Oh I know, I know. They definitely do. I don’t blame them. And yes, I have some friends that work in the district. Actually a fairly close friend that works in one of the worst elementary schools in the district. As a teacher’s..aide? Not right, I can’t remember his job title right now. Slightly embarrassed. Anyway, he loves his job, but there are kids that attack other people everyday there. And I think his school has metal detectors. Yes, just basic crowd control everyday.

    Slightly off topic, but if you’d like to see the difference between the two sides of the state lines, (Or even neighborhoods within KCMO proper) use this website, and you should be able to apply a filter for the types of crimes you want to filter out. You can use it for anywhere in the US I believe, but you can only go back about six months. Again, you can see the difference the state line makes. Also county lines. Wyandotte County, Kansas is fairly well known for having a much higher rate of crime than Johnson County, even with less reporting. Sometimes the data takes a little while to load.

    • panjoomby

      cro, is your friend a “para”? (para-educator). we have those in KS, & MO does, too:) i’m about 3 hours south by southwest of you, in the largest city in KS. glad to share a state with you:)

      • cro

        Finally got an answer panjoomby. He is pretty much as you state and eluded me at the time, a ‘Para-Professional’. That is the title.

  • Nicg

    You’re carrying a teacher hammer so are looking at the problem as a student nail.

    Wrong paradigm.

    Just for starters policemen are law enforcement officers, teachers are not. Policemen in the US are usually armed, teachers usually not. Teacher’s usually have some familiarity with the 18 year old students in their class, officer Wilson had never met Brown before.

    Attacking someone in possession of a firearm constitutes armed assault…that is if there is a credible possibility that the attacker has a reasonable chance of securing control of the weapon.

    A reasonable person would not consider that credible for a 60 kg woman getting physical with a 95 kg policeman, but a 130 kg 18 year old male with attitude; most definitely.

    So when Brown was running away from officer Wilson, having failed to wrestle the handgun from the officer, he – Brown – had already committed a felonious armed assault on the officer and presented a clear and present danger to the public and other officers.

    When Brown then decided to turn around and charge officer Wilson, he sealed his own fate. It would have been reckless and negligent of officer Wilson NOT to shoot Brown. Wilson would have been failing in his basic duty of care with to protect his own life, the public’s, and other law enforcement.

    Brown should be a Darwin award contender.

  • Garrett Kajmowicz

    As a tangental comment, I’d note that it is legal in-general to use lethal force not only to defend yourself for a reasonable fear of death, but also of severe bodily harm.

    Though it may be unlikely that Mr. Brown would have killed Mr. Wilson, there is a greater chance that Mr. Brown would have inflicted severe bodily harm on Mr. Wilson.

  • David Benson

    I am a retired high school teacher who taught at a racially mixed but not terrible school. The single most important reform that is needed to save the public schools is to give up on the notion that every child needs to be educated for 12 years regardless of ability, behavior or motivation. It is the kids who can’t learn and are afraid others will notice who turn out to be the most violent and disruptive. Expelling the worst behaved 5% of the student population at my school would have made a tremendous improvement and solved almost all of our discipline problems. Now that I think about it, this is probably a commonplace observation in the comments section of your blog. Sorry if I am beating a dead horse by stating the obvious.

    • educationrealist

      I understand your point, but if we expel the worst behaved kids, they go out on the street and jails are way more expensive than schools. I would instead argue that the most incorrigible kids go to smaller schools with tough behavior standards and still some education. But regardless of behavior, I don’t think we should expect everyone can be educated to the same level of performance.

      • Roger Sweeny

        Ah, if only the people with power in education were as realistic as you. Wait, don’t some of them take pride in being part of “the reality-based community”?

        Inigo Montoya, call your office.

  • educationrealist

    Ha. Hey, thanks for linking my piece over at Joanne Jacobs.

  • TWS

    Here’s the problem with your premise. Well several problems actually. First, you think that height matters in a fight. It does but very little. Weight is what matters that is why we have weight classes in fights (this tells me that you haven’t been in many real fights). Second, a public or private school teacher has no obligation to protect the public. When a criminal reaches for your gun a police officer has to think of the damage that criminal would do to the public at large after he’s stolen your gun. Third this wasn’t some ‘teenager’ he was a violent felon with a history of criminal behavior and he wasn’t one of your students. He was a ‘free range’ criminal out the grown up world where the consequences of committing felony assault, robbery then reaching for a cop’s gun include getting shot. Fourth, if an officer believes his life is on the line and yes a husky three hundred pound man who is making a career of strong arm robberies can kill you regardless of your height, you use deadly force to deal with it.

    Police and teachers have completely different responsibilities and tools and options. Using only the options available to a teacher try policing any neighborhood.

    You know about being a teacher and you both deal with angry teenagers. That doesn’t mean you know how to do a police officer’s job.

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