The Police-ification Of Schools

Male-police-officers-supe-007The Guardian reports on the new public education model in Texas, in which police officers patrol school hallways, giving out hundreds of thousands of tickets to children each year and making arrests for criminal behavior such as leaving crumbs in the cafeteria, wearing inappropriate clothing, spraying perfume, and making sarcastic remarks in class. Poor children whose families are unable to pay the fines may be jailed for the nonpayment once they turn 17:

More and more US schools have police patrolling the corridors. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising normal childhood behaviour?

The charge on the police docket was “disrupting class”. But that’s not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children were bullying her with taunts of “you smell”.

“I’m weird. Other kids don’t like me,” said Sarah, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders and who is conscious of being overweight. “They were picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then the teacher called the police.”

The policeman didn’t have far to come. He patrols the corridors of Sarah’s school, Fulmore Middle in Austin, Texas. Like hundreds of schools in the state, and across large parts of the rest of the US, Fulmore Middle has its own police force with officers in uniform who carry guns to keep order in the canteens, playgrounds and lessons. Sarah was taken from class, charged with a criminal misdemeanour and ordered to appear in court.

Each day, hundreds of schoolchildren appear before courts in Texas charged with offences such as swearing, misbehaving on the school bus or getting in to a punch-up in the playground. Children have been arrested for possessing cigarettes, wearing “inappropriate” clothes and being late for school.

In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 “Class C misdemeanour” tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.

“We’ve taken childhood behaviour and made it criminal,” said Kady Simpkins, a lawyer who represented Sarah Bustamantes. “They’re kids. Disruption of class? Every time I look at this law I think: good lord, I never would have made it in school in the US. I grew up in Australia and it’s just rowdy there. I don’t know how these kids do it, how they go to school every day without breaking these laws.”

The emphasis on law and order in the classroom parallels more than two decades of rapid expansion of all areas of policing in Texas in response to misplaced fears across the US in the 1980s of a looming crime wave stoked by the crack epidemic, alarmist academic studies and the media.

“Zero tolerance started out as a term that was used in combating drug trafficking and it became a term that is now used widely when you’re referring to some very punitive school discipline measures. Those two policy worlds became conflated with each other,” said Fowler.

The very young are not spared. According to Appleseed, Texas records show more than 1,000 tickets were issued to primary schoolchildren over the past six years (although these have no legal force at that age). Appleseed said that “several districts ticketed a six-year-old at least once in the last five years”.

Fines run up to $500. For poorer parents, the cost can be crippling. Some parents and students ignore the financial penalty, but that can have consequences years down the road. Schoolchildren with outstanding fines are regularly jailed in an adult prison for non-payment once they turn 17. Stumping up the fine is not an end to the offending student’s problems either. A class-C misdemeanour is a criminal offence.

65 Comments on "The Police-ification Of Schools"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Jan 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    *Sniff sniff* Smells like the ripe fetid stench of fascism. I like how most schools are becoming little more than day long internment camps for children. Well, we gotta colonize those kids’ minds as soon as possible.

    • Jin The Ninja | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

      it’s interesting in a sense, because you realise how forthright they are about it now.

      critical thought is so diminished that the need for neo-freudian propaganda or mainstream narrative history is also diminshed. they can just do it all out in the open now.

      it’s interesting (and i know you realised that when you wrote it) that you use the word “colonised” because one of the first things i was taught in aboriginal studies, was the theory of educational de-colonisation, which is how reserve schools are now trying to approach history.

      trying to reduce harm caused by traditional narrative, or even take back the power caused by the anti native sentiment DEEPLY embedded and codified by the language of mainstream history. and when i was in class, and i realised how deeply pervasive it is, how the narratives of history are constructed to make a certain ruling group (whether socio-economic, racial, whatever) the victor, the hero, the bringers of democracy and civilisation.

      it also has serious implications for those of us who are non-native,(and i can only speak for canadian education here )because in a sense we are colonised by our own narratives, and if we are colonised we lose our sovreignty.

      sorry for the rant, but i love post-colonial theory…;)

      • Anarchy Pony | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

        Well this society has to teach people to think a certain way and accept the bizarre norms it sets for itself, because to any kind of outsider, this society is insane, and continually pursues insane goals and activities. 
        It’s like the abusive relationship perspective that Derrick Jensen supposes when looking at our society, the kids have to be taught to obey the abusive authority or face “violence” of one kind or another. It’s become so normalized in western culture, that it takes quite a lot of “de-schooling” and “de-colonizing” to actually recognize it.

        • Jin The Ninja | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

          honestly, that is one of the best things derrick j. says about the state of the world. it was great it in end civ, end game and the other book where he detailed his abuse. it’s exactly this victim-victor dynamic that is subversive enough most people never notice, but pervasive enough that nearly everyone follows it.

          i by the way am a big fan of unschooling, de schooling , and the like. if i ever have kids, i would certainly do it that way, instead of sending them off to the ministry of truth.

  2. Children, today we’re going to learn a new phrase. It’s easy. Repeat after me:


    Very good, children! But Bobby, I didn’t see you give the proper salute…officer, TAKE HIM AWAY!

    Now, children…let’s try it once more, please. This time enthusiastically.

  3. DeepCough | Jan 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

    Y’all sure you wanna have another government official from Texas in the Presidency?

    • Anarchy Pony | Jan 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

      Perry dropped out yo.

      • DeepCough | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

        Forgot already that Ron Paul is from Texas, too?

        • Anarchy Pony | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

          Oh, that’s right.

        • He would never do anything like this, and would also fight to reverse it.   

          • I’d really like to hear him come out against this publicly.  An army of little authoritarians is being forged in Texas right now.

          • RP would leave it up to the state, so essentially he supports it.

          • To Randel:

            Actually you’re wrong. RP would say he’s against it, but would do nothing. Anything to stop this would be regulatory & big government to him. He would leave it up to the state, so nothing would change.
            I was a RP supporter for years, I can almost read his mind at this point.
            RP is a good guy with some great ideas & many horrific ones too. One is to let the states decide everything, even overturning the Civil Rights Act, which RP does not support by the way.

        • Jin The Ninja | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

          wait for it. the disciples of st. paul will be here any second…

  4. Which country is the easiest to emigrate to?  

  5. A society turns barbarous and then acts surprised when the police are called in.

    “Sieg heil!” my arse.

    More like- “You reap what you sow.”

    • Bullshit.  It’s this kind of child-rearing that turns a society barbarous.

    • It’s called “Problem-Reaction-Solution.” The US brings in opium and other drugs from various countries. Then it disseminates these drugs around the US (mainly through crooked doctors) and sells it to the kids. Then the kids turn into “gangstas” who are “cracked out!” This shit needs to stop! (Problem). The public is outraged that little Johnny who used to be such a hopeful is now sucking cock for crack money and mugging Granny Goodfox for extra loot (Reaction). What’s the solution? Make a police state! Let’s see Johnny pump the pipe when he can’t even doodle in class. Then we’ll get a BIG STRONG BOSS to throw his mother into the fucking guillotine because she “didn’t raise him right.” You’re a real American, there G.I. Joe.

      • Go back to sleep and watch football.

        • Yeah, that’s right. I say something you might not agree with and so I’m an American (wrong), pay no attention to what’s going on around me (wrong), and watch football (wrong).

          Do you really not think the world is a bit more complex than the non sequitur-laden conspiracy junk so often peddled by your ilk?

          It’s you who needs to wake up and throw away your safety blanket of “Waa waa waa, it’s the big bad gubmint’s fault that my life is shit and I’m a loser!”

          The world is way more complex than that.


          • MoralDrift | Jan 24, 2012 at 7:24 am |

            oh shut up you dickhead

          • Hahaha! This from a guy whose methods of gaining insight into the subject consists of “my high school in florida”, “MSNB prison shows”, and “driving past a couple of prison [sic] myself”. You then make a most exquisite connection, a pure non sequitur I might add, that because the school building and prison building look similar, therefore the school must be like a prison. You might have instead pointed out that both types of building have the far more obvious connection that both are places designed to handle large numbers of people at a time.

            Run along, junior.

          • MoralDrift | Jan 24, 2012 at 8:13 am |

            it has been my personal experience, that public schools in America are run in a fashion similar to a prison. It is neither necessary nor desirable.

            My comment was agreeing to another posters comment about newer schools resembling prisons. I can contrast this to older high schools in my town which did not bear the same resemblance…

            A few features: large, high wall…an administration building in the front which opens up into a courtyard behind surrounded by “blocks” of buildings which form the rear perimeter. Police and administrators use the buildings to be able to see anyone or anything in the courtyard..much like the Panopticon of the prison.

            Is this all bad? no….but the design coupled with the criminalization of school misbehavior leads one to believe that we are being taught at a young age to fear police and the law, and to submit no matter what. This is not the making of a free society but of a prison society

            A safe and effective learning environment is the desired result, not criminal records for mouthing off in class

          • Fair enough, I’m glad you didn’t call me anything this time.

            As an aside, are the buildings built by the same construction company?

          • MoralDrift | Jan 24, 2012 at 8:18 am |

            Dont know, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me at all

          • Yeah me neither.

  6. Satisfied | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    Politicians are way more stupid in texas. Soon they are going to start locking kids up for being black

  7. This is so disgusting. We are truly living in Nazi Germany now.  

  8. snowpiper | Jan 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    Nunzio beat me to it! Yep, sure does have a familiar ring to it!

  9. I have hinted at this before on this site,  that what was once termed “youthful indiscretions” has now been tagged criminal.  The nation is set to broaden the dragnet and create a permanent underclass by design,  the poor and weak are to be preyed upon – they (the victims) will be made a “profitable commodity” in the prison industrial complex.  The emphasis in the schools is just the ratcheting up of the process,  it is a signal of what is to come –

    “33,000,000” (MADE IN 2003!)

    • EyeoftheAxis | Jan 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

      As John said in the video “they are not ready for it”. I don’t think they see it when it is happening directly to them. They get pissed when this dirt poor Oklahoma NDN that moved up north, can come back and buy a place with cash, for less than 1/3 of what they paid for it, and is now renting it out to the ones they consider second class … they blame Obama. They don’t care to know, for all my life I was the poor dude, the one they called crime suspect, living on next to nothing. That once I found my pissy little fortune I was so used to living one way, I couldn’t change. Unfortunately for them the world has changed, they have a shitload of debt for stuff they don’t need, and the factory could care less. You’re a criminal first, person second is definitely nothing new for poor people.- Not to get to far off topic… see also “Welcome To The Reservation” – Russell Means

      • You are right Eye…,  the poor have always been a target.  However,  now poverty is expanding and there is no end in site as people are further divested.  The gap between the rich and poor is now larger than in the robber baron days,  and this does not “just happen.”  There is a dynamic between the rich and poor playing out,  and it is not just merely environment – nature – backwardness of people,  etc.  In fact,  it is just as deliberate as what was done to the indigenous population in the states,  only not just domestic – on a global scale. Many people do not know or ignore the fact that to get access to what we have as a so-called developed country (one that oppresses other people in poor and weak countries,  and domestically) is contingent on the commiseration and genocidal activity of force and coercion of people globally.

        As far as the Res goes,  I have lived on indigenous land and walked among tribes,  my awakening of what was occurring started in my early teens.  Not only experiential,  but having been lucky enough to have relatives that laid before me the whole raw deal in living color.  I am devastated by what we do here and abroad to other peoples,  and even though my misery is symbiotic I will not rest until this system is destroyed – I don’t care what will be done to me,  and I will keep smashing my body on the bulwarks of this ravenous beast

        “The general rode for sixteen days

        The horses were thirsty and tired

        On the trail of a renegade chief

        One he’d come to admire

        The soldiers hid behind the hills

        That surrounded the village

        And he rode down to warn the chief

        They’d come to conquer and pillage…

        Lay down your arms

        Lay down your spear

        The chief’s eyes were sad

        But showed no sign of fear…

        And he turned to his people and said dry your eyes

        We’ve been blessed and we are thankful

        Raise your voices to the sky

        It is a good day to die…”

        The seed of imperialism in America is fully displayed by what was done to the indigenous population, and now it has spread globally –

  10. Cheerscun7 | Jan 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

    Are you kidding me? This is fucking disgusting. 

    Six year olds getting fines? Just another way for the boys in blue to make some quick cash.
    Idiocy like this makes me think of the term “Only in America”.

  11. This is great, but it just can’t be right, since the kids cant pay their own fines. Clearly we have to legalize children in the workforce so that they can pay for their thought-crime fines.

    Hmm, maybe thinking children shouldn’t work should be a thought-crime.

  12. The answer to why is “market economics”. Since jail is now an industry with a for profit motive…but a market limited to people who run afoul of the law…the obvious answer is to find new and innovative ways to gain market share. Make darn near everything illegal…and you open up your market as a profit prison and make huge gains for very little investment. Naturally…kids make the best targets…since they have the fewest rights and the least advocacy…and no real power base to employ in fighting back.

  13. Hoosiergirl | Jan 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    I find this difficult to believe! Is this gestapo shit for real? 

  14. Hoosiergirl | Jan 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

    I grew up in a small rural community in Indiana… Our high school was brand new the year I became a freshman and the school had originally been designed as a prison but the plans fell through. We used to have small high schools in each tiny farming community in the area and it was decided to close all these small schools to consolidate the school districts into one giant school and bus all the country kids into a central hub location. It was complete with guard shacks to keep students from leaving campus for lunch. It became a tradition for someone to throw a pipe bomb into the empty guard shack in the middle of the night at the end of each school year. Nobody ever got caught doing it and no one ever got hurt. We had numerous outrageous pranks commited at the end of every school year. I can recall a dude riding his motorcycle inside the building and up and down the halls, someone letting boxes of crickets loose, a greased pig sent running thru the school, etc. Nobody ever got in any trouble for these shenanigans… I guess they’d end up at Gitmo today.

    • Jin The Ninja | Jan 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm |

      actually many public schools and/or buildings are designed to be fortifiable if not prisons outrightly. my undergrad universities main research library was built in the wake of the ’67 french student riots and specifically designed to control movement of rioting students, and the ability for the administration to barricade themselves on the top tiers. even today you have to use different elevators to access different floors, and the floors accessible don’t always correlate to one another. it’s called the ‘architecture of control’ and alot of buildings built in the brutalist style post 1970 were built with civil unrest in mind.

    • MoralDrift | Jan 24, 2012 at 6:59 am |

      my high school in florida was similar. Brand new, and designed to look like a prison, and function like one as well.

      I thought I would add: It was always remarked that it looked like a prison by other students but I thought it was silly. That was until I watched late night MSNBC prison shows, and ended up driving past a couple prison myself….and the resemblance is unmistakable.

  15. This is obvious precondiditoning. If they want to enact a police state on full gown adults, a lot of people will fall in line but enough people will still be saying “Wait, this isn’t right”, and make the process of tightening the vise more inconvienient. However, if they start by conditioning children at a young age to accept a police state atmosphere as “normal”, then they can proceed to tighten the vise with less resistance. They want citizens walking on egg shells to keep big brother happy to be the norm. These “police schools” should be seen as test labs for how the powers that be what to model society as a whole. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this.

  16. Ronpaulite2012 | Jan 24, 2012 at 6:14 am |

    We the people need to act now!!!!!

    Dear (Congressman, Senator, President),
    I hereby pledge to vote against, actively  campaign against and refuse funding to any candidate or currently elected official who:
    1. Voted in favor of the NDAA
    2. Votes against Ron Paul’s HR35 bill to repeal section 1021 o the NDAA
    3. Supports any bill even remotely resembling SOPA, PIPA, ACTA or any other bill designed to strip away the last frontier of free speech and honest information in our country (the Internet).
    4. Votes for any law stripping us further of our civil liberties or increasing our country’s debt, or votes against any law that returns our freedom and prosperity as a country.
    Sincerely (your name here)

    To find out your congressional representstives, go to:

    To find out who your senate reps are go to:

    Ron Paul 2012!!!

  17. EyeoftheAxis | Jan 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm |

    I don’t have a quick EZ pie chart, but I would guess Texas is around the top of the list for home school and private religious schools.
    — Aren’t rules generally created with the other person in mind? …speed limits, insider trading, voter fraud, bank robbery, …killing unarmed civilians.

  18. Tarmstro39 | Jan 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

    Two words:  poison containers.

  19. Hmmmmmmmm.  This looks bad alright.  But there is a credibility question.  I was born in Texas and have lived in Texas most of my life and I have never heard of ‘Appleseed’ Texas.  Looked in the Atlas for it and found – nothing.  Does it exist?  Someone let me know if so.

  20. Supersonicmdv | Jan 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |

    This is wrong and its sick, its abuseing power they have and usuing it on kids the police should be doing something more important like arreting drugs and actual criminals not this bull crap, i think its an excuss just to get paid!

  21. Nay.Its time for revolution | Jul 12, 2012 at 1:42 am |

    Don’t worry about your kids they are just trying to teach them a lesson, shake up their minds so they can keep in line in the future. The truth? This is so wrong; they are kids! little whiny snotty kids who play and get dirty. We can’t expect them to be like adults.

    It sounds like europe in the nineteen hundreds.  ( )

    When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children anyway they could

    by pouring their derision upon anything we did

    exposing any weakness however carefully hidden by the kids.

    But in the town it was well known

    When they got home at night their fat and psychopathic wives

    Would thrash them within inches of their lives!

    We don’t need no education

    We don’t need no thought control

    No dark sarcasm in the classroom

    Teachers leave them kids alone

    Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!

    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

Comments are closed.