Education Letter to the Editor

Substituting Stun Guns for Opportunity to Learn

March 15, 2005 1 min read

Your March 2, 2005, article “Officers’ Stun Guns Raising Serious Concerns” highlights a disturbing feature of the ongoing assault on the right to educational opportunity: the criminalization of the student population and scapegoating of students in the place of genuine school improvement. Now commonplace, stun-gun use (let alone police presence in the schools) would never have been acceptable to those who fought for an end to segregation and for equal educational opportunity.

In the name of safety, states and municipalities place police in the schools to deal with “aggressive” students, and arm officers with stun guns to be an “alternative to the use of deadly force.” Democratically minded people must question why such force would be necessary to begin with.

Overwhelmingly, the schools with violent, overcrowded environments where students’ needs for sound instruction, appropriate materials, and services such as mental-health counseling are ignored and neglected are in urban, minority neighborhoods.

How can a society claiming to possess the moral high ground needed to bring the principles of democracy to other countries substitute police and firearms for educational opportunity at home?

Juliet Luther

Bilingual Educator/ESL Specialist

New York, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Substituting Stun Guns For Opportunity to Learn