Was I surprised by the drug raid at Stratford High School in South Carolina? Hardly.
Was I stunned that about 70 percent of the students who police swept their guns over were black? Not really.
Since President Clinton signed the Gun-Free Schools Act in 1994, which called for state laws demanding the immediate expulsion of students caught on campus with firearms or drugs, education boards have broadened the act’s reach by including fighting and threats among the violations.
As time passed, doors have been opened by public school principals to law enforcement, problematic students have been dumped into makeshift alternative schools, and the whistle has been blown for police to handle cases of assault better known as that 20 second fight in the cafeteria.
With the law on their side, schools have stopped teaching and educators have started turning students into felons by placing them into the court system using outlandish charges. So students leave high school with a diploma and a criminal record.
Meanwhile, I continued to watch the surveillance footage from Stratford High School and scenes from “Lean On Me” and its fictional Eastside High School sprang into mind. Although Morgan Freeman’s baseball bat wielding and megaphone toting character was nicknamed “Crazy Joe” Clark, he was genuinely interested in the discipline and well being of his students.
Principals trying to abate behavior and drug problems in their schools should invest more time into starting mediation programs, better school counseling, and greater teacher and parent involvement, instead of turning the hallways into a virtual prisoner recruitment center.
In the words of an Eastside High student, “We want Mr. Clark!”
Where’s “Crazy Joe” or at least a real life version when you need him?
Monica Harden is a senior magazine production student from Hockley, Texas. She is an Assistant Opinions Editor for The Famuan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.