A Statement Regarding Spring Valley from the Leadership Team of The Badass Teachers Association
We have watched closely over the last several days to reactions regarding the Spring Valley incident involving a young lady who was brutally removed from her classroom by a School Resource Officer (SRO). Many people have blamed the victim for not following a directive and thus saying she was deserving of this brutal attack by a man twice her size. We recognize that the student in question was not behaving as outlined by institutionalized norms. However, that does not justify her being attacked by an adult authority figure. All children - even those who misbehave - have a right to be treated fairly and not become victimized by those who are supposed to protect and serve. The BATs leadership team feels this incident underscores a larger problem – the dehumanization and criminalization of a young girl of color. Paul Thomas, in an article he published today All the White Responses (and the Game Is Rigged), stated:
“Many also raised voices once again about the significant negative impact that zero-tolerance policies and police in the hallways have on black and brown students, both male and female. As Kathleen Nolan has documented, zero-tolerance policies and police in the hallways often criminalize children, a dynamic almost exclusively impacting black, brown, and impoverished children.”
As educators, we need to remind ourselves that when a student acts out, our first responsibility is to try to understand the cause of that behavior. All children, regardless of issues or behaviors, have a right to the expectation that the adults responsible for their well-being will not be the ones to turn around and cause them to become a victim. To those who blame the victim – what if this was your child? This young lady suffered neck and back injuries and had her arm placed in a cast. The amount of force inflicted on her for a minor infraction was an unacceptable level of brutality and misuse of force. We need to divest from armed police in our schools and begin to rely on well-trained staff. The role of the SRO should be humane, respectful of students, and an expectation that they serve as competent members of the school community.
It is time to recognize that black and brown children deserve the right to attend schools, and live in a society, that is NOT a police state. They need, and deserve, schools that nurture and respect that they are young people who need to work through the trials and tribulations of adolescence; and while this rite of passage occurs, they have the right not to be neither dehumanized nor criminalized. BATs will NEVER condone violence against our children.