En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New York Daily News
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Bushwick High School – Not in Police State of Mind

Crips,
Bloods and Latin Kings gang members attend Bushwick Community
High School, but there
was only one fight in three years.

There’s
also only one security guard for the Palmetto
St. school’s 350 students.

"There
are [gang members] in the school and the teachers all know who they are,"
Bushwick Community High School Principal Tira Randall told the authors of a
recently published study that held up the school and two others in Brooklyn as
examples of school security without a massive police presence.

"None
of the [three] schools … have metal detectors, and all of them have extremely
low rates of violent incidents," wrote authors John Beam, Chase Madar** and
Deinya Phenix.

The study,
"Life without Lockdown," published by Brown University’s Annenberg
Institute for School Reform, described city schools that have "a conscious
policy … of trusting students" and "clear and simple rules."
The study also took aim at Mayor Bloomberg’s Impact Initiative, which provides
more cops or other resources to troubled schools.

The Impact
schools, after a year and a half, suffered a decline in attendance and an
increase in suspensions, the report found.

But city
officials defended the Impact Initiative, citing the massive decreases in major
and violent crime at the schools.

Over four
years, major crime fell 63% at the first 12 Impact schools. It fell 77% for the
next four schools added to the program, said Elayna Konstan, head of the
Education Department’s School and Youth Development Office.

Konstan
rejected the idea that there was a one-size-fits-all solution to be learned
from the study. "There’s no one right way for school transformation,"
she said.

But New
York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman called the study
"an important perspective."

"It’s
… possible to make a school environment safe without destroying the nurturing
educational atmosphere," she said.

El Puente
Academy for Peace and Justice, and Progress
High School for Professional Careers,
both in Williamsburg,
were also profiled in the study. Progress was one of the small schools founded
to replace the failing Eastern
District High
School.

"We
went from being being one of the most dangerous schools in the city to one of
the safest," said Progress Principal William Jusino. "I don’t want
[school security agents] to do stuff that teachers can do, like break up a
fight or discipline a student."

** Attorney at Make
the Road New York