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Movies: A War On Kids? Or Just More Scare Tactics?

ScreenHunter_41 Nov. 18 21.21I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this.  There's a new documentary out called The War On Kids which argues that the current culture of many schools is, in essence, a war on children. But from the trailer, at least, the movie seems pretty over the top, juxtaposing interviews with (mostly white) parents angry about how kids are being treated and footage of (mostly black and brown) kids getting arrested or searched for drugs in school.  I'm curious, but I'm not really convinced.  Are there enough ridiculous zero tolerance incidents in schools to call it a war on kids?  Or are these just incidents of random stupidity as it usually sems, an unfortunate byproduct of a fearful society but not that much more?  Reviews here:  NYT, Variety.  It was the Winner of "Best Educational Documentary" at the NY International Independent Film and Video Festival 2009.


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Thanks for pointing this out. What alarmist clap-trap. The last person in the trailer is John Tailor Gotto, who is provocative, fascinating, outspoken--and often wrong. Thanks, as well, for noticing the obvious racial disparity in the trailer. We have affluent white kids and parents complaining that school doesn't allow them to do what they want to do. Then we have urban kids of color in cuffs.

The trailer also shows snippets of news stories about stupid zero-tolerance policies, so everyone can draw the conclusion that every 5-year-old is being thrown in the slammer for every infraction. We all watch CNN, so we all know it's true.

Again, it's schools that just can't win. Either they're discipline-free zones where kids are out of control and no learning takes place or they're prison-like bunkers where kids are stifled and no learning takes place. Choose your horror story.

I should see the film, but I don't have high hopes....

Alexander: More in this vein is a brand new documentary about how the physical health and mental well-being of children, families and people who work at schools is being sacrificed so that ever-more-perfect, almighty "number" can be obtained.

Watch a trailer and learn more about "Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture" @ http://www.racetonowhere.com/

You'll also be able to sign a petition to stop the madness and restore compassion in our schools.

I think that you are quite right. The trailer looks over the top especially in the distribution of races. But, I think the film could help to shed some light on a few of the issues that our students are facing in schools today. I think that we truly do have a "prison" mentality within our schools. Students are often treated as though they are constantly trying to cause trouble and need to be controlled.

The references to prisons in the trailer is especially interesting to me because one of the high schools near my hometown was constructed using old prison designs. It was chosen for its crowd control purposes. Interestingly, my wife happened to go to that high school and despised it. She speaks of being treated as a criminal just walking down the hallway. Could it be that as we increase our discipline and control techniques in schools that we actually create an atmosphere that in less conducive to learning and that may actually foster violence?

I do feel that the overall attitude in our schools is pretty negative, both among students and faculty. NCLB has greatly contributed to this. It's about time that we re-evaluate the path we are taking with "school reform." Something certainly needs to be done to reform our schools. NCLB and its proponents are only making things worse.

In my experience, this movie is right on. There are 160 camera's in my sons school. Police bring drug sniffing dogs through randomly to check for drugs. The kids have to wear ID badges and the school is locked every day. They are now looking at putting in intercom systems at the front of the building for security...??? (and we live in the 2008-2009 money magazine's #1 city to live in in the US). Part of the basis for the rating has to do with a low crime rate. So....what is going on?

In 1st grade my son was given a warning slip (which was sent home for me to sign) because he was found reading a book by his locker instead of going outside for recess. In middle school he was threatened with suspension for having a paper clip (which I gave him to keep his paper together). I have hundreds of these stories about my son and other kids. In 1st grade my nephews principal told my sister that her son had a emotional behavioral disorder because when she (the pricipal) threatened to suspend my nephew for poking another child in the back with a finger he didn't cry or get upset (which the principal saw as a sure sign of a emotional disorder). My sister, who evaluates behavioral disorders for a living, explained to the principal that if you tell a normal 1st grader that he gets to go home (and play), he will generally not be upset. We saw a freind on the news the other day who was being interviewed by the local news channel because his child got a 3 day suspension for wearing saggy pants (in my day, we called the way he wears his pants hip huggers - e.g. he wasn't wearing them down to his knees or anything - just not wearing mom pants).

I am a history major that had a minor in education so that I could teach, that noble profession, right? Not! I didn't even make it halfway through the intro course and bailed. The high and mighty, all-knowing attitudes that the educators have is astounding. It's like all knowledge must flow from them to these poor, helpless, hapless little creatures they call students.
I was immediately offended as I happen to have been homeschooled the majority of my life and I know darn good and well that most of what I learned, I learned on my own. Even when I was in school in K-4, I used at-your-own-pace workbooks. (It was a private school.) My own pace was second and third grade in 5 months!
And now I have 4 kids of my own that, due to divorce must go to school and they've had nothing but problems. My youngest child (10) is diagnosed ADD but she is very managable and she would get in trouble because she would stand at her desk while she wrote. Her punishment? No recess. Smart huh? The kid has so much energy she can't sit still so let's take away her physical activity. My son had trouble all through elementary and middle school because he would get picked on and teased and there were never any ADULTS around to enforce the anti-bullying policy, but then when he couldn't take anymore and blew up at them, he got in trouble and labled emotionally disturbed and made to ride the "short bus" to school. Guess how that helped with the teasing? Made it ten times worse. He is very good at ignoring stupidity now, but he tends to stick near a teacher at all times so that if anyone messes with him there's a witness. Pretty sad, huh? These places are prisons, there's no two ways around it. They are meant to get kids used to taking orders. Nothing more.

Thank you for reviews. I can't wait more after reading it. I love this blog. good Work Man !

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