|The condition of Birmingham City Schools in 2013 is a reminder why responsible parents avoid integrated school systems.|
You ever wonder what the daily life of an inner-city school looks like? You don't need to watch The Substitute to see the utter depravity found in America's collapsing large cities and the public school systems which serve as little more than daycare/low-level detention facilities.
The quality of the public school system is usually the best indicator of the current overall health of a community or a city, and it is a powerful barometer for measuring the future prospects of that community as well.
And if we are to take this maxim to heart, the future of Birmingham - The Magic City - isn't offering much in the manner of hope for change. A city celebrating "50 Years Forward" in 2013 isn't engaging in "progress," but the retarding of progress, truly the regression of civilization.
No, the Birmingham City School system (roughly 98 percent black, with 80-90 percent of students receiving free/reduced lunches) powerfully mirrors the conditions of the 74 percent black city of Birmingham: with Birmingham being one of the most violent cities in America, is it any wonder that all attendees of Birmingham City Schools basketball and football games must pass through metal detectors?
In a city as dangerous as Birmingham, any and all transgressions must be considered a criminal offense if peace is to being maintained -- especially in the school system. Though a 'zero-tolerance' approach to thuggery has been abandoned, it's important to note the "culture" found in an almost completely black school system [Birmingham city schools rely on arrests to keep order, Birmingham News, 3-22-09]:
The Birmingham city school system has become a pipeline to the courts.
Records show criminal incidents in city schools topped 1,000 last year, and more than half of those students were arrested and taken to family court.
Birmingham, with 27,525 students, accounts for about 25 percent of the public school population in Jefferson County, but 82 percent of the arrests that are referred to the Jefferson County Family Court.
Court officials say an attempt to restore order and gain control in the Birmingham system has had the opposite effect -- criminalizing students, flooding Family Court with cases that once would have been handled in a principal's office, and ceding control of school property to police.
"I will stay here all night; it's not about the workload," said Brian Huff, presiding judge with the Jefferson County Family Court, which handles all juvenile arrests. "But we're arresting children for offenses no one should be arrested for."
"We put SROs (school resource officers) in there to manage the school and serious crimes. They are there if someone commits a felony or major crime," said interim Birmingham school Superintendent Barbara Allen. "But sometimes we have principals who call them to break up a fight. They are busy, and I think it's just easier for them to place the responsibility elsewhere, and that isn't right."
The larger Jefferson County school system generated 10 percent of the arrests referred to Family Court. The remaining 8 percent were referred by other school systems in Jefferson County, including Bessemer, Tarrant, Leeds and Hoover.
The largest portion of arrests in Birmingham city schools, 33 percent, was for fights. Disorderly conduct accounted for the 29 percent of arrests, the second-largest percentage. Criminal trespassing and harassment accounted for 21 percent.
"Other school systems aren't arresting kids for small things; they handle it from within," Allen said. "We call the police."
She said SROs too often are called upon to handle small fights, disruptive behavior and dress-code violations, such as sagging pants.
If Allen's proposals are carried out, that approach will change.
Modeled after a plan in Clayton County, Ga., Birmingham would clearly define the role of a school resource officer and what should constitute cause for arrest. Under the proposed plan, which would take effect in the 2009-10 school year, most incidents would be handled at the school, Allen said.
Birmingham has 12 school resource officers plus two sergeants and a lieutenant assigned to support schools. At one time, there were 30 officers in Birmingham schools, Police Chief A.C. Roper said, but over the years people left or were promoted, and their positions were never filled.
That soon could change.
Last month, Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford called the discipline problems inside the schools appalling and said he wants to double the number of police officers in city schools.
"I will pull officers off the streets and put them in the schools," he said.That Mayor Langford is now in jail is not part of the story. Birmingham has adopted a "tiered" (a collaborative agreement signed by the Birmingham City Schools, Birmingham Police Department, The Jefferson County Family Court, and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office to "cut arrests") system to deal with criminal offenses in their schools, hoping to not only keep some semblance of order, but to keep costs down in the juvenile court system:
...the first offense under the new system results in a Warning Notice, admonition, or no action, at the discretion of the school official. The second offense results in admonition and counsel, a second warning, or an assignment of the student and parent to a School Conflict Workshop.Upon the third offense, the school may refer the student to the court. The agreement does include an exception for “exceptional circumstances,” which permits school administrators to bypass the graduated system.Of course, some organizations believe its the disciplinary tactics that fuel this violence and pipeline from public schools to prison, instead of acknowledging that the 98 percent black Birmingham City Schools system poor quality of test scores, character, and discipline is only a reflection of it being a 98 percent black student body.
That these students fail to abide by the law is the reason such drastic measures as pepper spray is needed to create order from the chaos that is the 98 percent black Birmingham City School system; that these students engage in behavior that can only be described as that of "permanent revolutionaries" is the reason the city, school system, police, and court system must engage in such extraordinary levels of aggression to keep the peace in the 98 percent black Birmingham City School system :
Brutal School Disciplinary Tactics Fuel the School-to-Prison PipelineThe school-to-prison pipeline is fueled by brutal disciplinary practices where children are literally pulled out of their classrooms, placed in handcuffs or other restraints, maced, and arrested for minor misbehavior.
School Resource Officers resort to using pepper spray to deter unruly black students in Birmingham from small fights, cursing, or excessive talking because all of these activities are but a moment from turning into a much greater threat if a show of force isn't immediately displayed.In Birmingham, Alabama, nearly every high school has one or more police officers permanently stationed in the school. These officers are routinely called to handle minor disciplinary problems, and once they appear, the school administrators consider the situation a police matter. Students are arrested—and sometimes maced—for normal, adolescent misbehavior such as swearing, horseplay, and disrespectful conduct. While the physical effects of this punishment are horrific—injury to the eyes, temporary loss of vision, burning and discoloration of the skin, loss of breath and, in some cases, respiratory arrest—the impact goes far beyond that. When a child is maced, that child is arrested, taken to the juvenile lock-up, strip searched, and then left in a cell to wait for a parent to come. Although Birmingham schools and police have signed an agreement with the family court that children should not be arrested for this low-level misbehavior, the arrests and the trauma it causes the children continue. In December 2010, the SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of students who were subjected to the use of chemical weapons, primarily mace, by police officers acting as school resource officers in Birmingham City Schools.
It's the law of the jungle after all.
But it's not just life in the school system that has to be tracked and watched via police state measures.
Under the new rules, youth under the age of 17 must abide by a 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. curfew Sunday through Thursday and from midnight until 6 a.m. Friday, Saturday and on official city holidays.
Those leaving a sanctioned school activity have one hour after the event is over to get home or with their parents, police said. After that, they are in violation.Because the threat from teenagers (black teenagers) in Birmingham to the stability of the city is so great, 56 police detectives recently engaged in Operation Parental Control to issue misdemeanor tickets/citations to neglectful black parents [Birmingham police round up parents and guardians with unpaid fines after kids violated curfew, Birmingham News, 4-13-2012]:
Under the beefed-up law, parents became liable for their children's violations with a $500 fine for the first offense. Repeat offenses carry a mandatory appearance in court and, for three or more offenses within a year, the possibility of up to six months in jail.
In Collegeville, a 28-year-old mother of five groggily came to the door, and denied knowing why the officers were there. "What did I do?" she asked police. "I never picked him up from a curfew violation."
Police verified the warrant against her, and took her into custody after a neighbor agreed to watch the kids until another adult family member could arrive.
"She acted like she didn't know anything," said Sgt. L. Roby, "but I told her we weren't standing in her living room for nothing."
Those arrested were taken to a command post in east Birmingham, where they were photographed and then transported to the city jail.
"They didn't think this would really happen," [Lt. Janice] Blackwell said. "We have to be accountable for our children and know where they are."Accountability is a word currently banned from applying to the black community in not only Birmingham, but in all of America. The police and public school system, however, must be accountable to provide a safe city, school, and athletic experience for the citizens of Birmingham, which require police state levels of security.
The Birmingham City Council got in the act of acknowledging the high levels of violence in Birmingham City Schools by enacting a "100 Days of No Violence" initiative in 2011 -- an event and pledge unnecessary in the public school system 'Over the Mountain,' where white students simply so show up to class to learn and not engage in wanton violence [Failing Grades: The Decline and Fall of Birmingham City Schools, Birmingham Weekly City Paper, 8-9-2012]:
The most embarrassing instance occurred in early 2011, when the Council passed a resolution to reward certain students for participating in Councilor Jay Roberson's "100 Days of No Violence" initiative, which commenced in fall of 2010. Students had been encouraged to sign agreements not to engage in violence from October 10 through the next year's Martin Luther King birthday observance. These students were therefore receiving special recognition for not assaulting other students. Even if it were possible to lower the bar for achievement in schools past awarding students for merely abstaining from violence, what official body could find the gall to do so?Life in Wartime in the 98 percent black Birmingham City Schools system, where the plot of "Lord of the Flies" plays out on a daily basis, requiring the police state measures normally reserved for wartime to keep the peace.
Of course, these were also once mandatory (metal detectors, armed guards) for a Board of Education meeting too...
The Birmingham Board of Education met behind closed doors for a little more than an hour this afternoon."Fifty Years Forward?"
The closed session was held during a special called meeting to discuss good name and character. The meeting at the board's central office downtown ended moments after board members returned from that session.
It was the second board meeting this week and, according to Birmingham police, the first resulted in someone filing a police report.
Deputy Police Chief Herman Hinton confirmed a report was filed but said he did not know who filed it or what it alleges. Efforts by The Birmingham News to obtain a copy of the report, or learn the details of the report, were not successful today.
Five armed guards were present at today's meeting, and everyone who entered the meeting room had to pass through a metal detector. Those security measures are not used at most board meetings.
Civilization has regressed 500 years in Birmingham since 1963.