New York State School Boards Association discusses Police in the Hallways

By Gayle Simidian, Research Analyst
New York School Boards Association

In 2003, New York City attempted a “cultural transformation” of crime-ridden public high schools by assigning unprecedented numbers of police officers to them, including 12 schools with so many fights, drug deals and other problems that the media labeled them, “the dirty dozen.”

The “Impact Schools Initiative” of Mayor Michael Bloomberg is impressively dissected by Karen Nolan in her new book, Police in the Hallways (University of Minnesota, $22.95). She focuses on a Bronx school she calls Urban Public High School (UPHS), where 12 police officers and 20 safety agents were assigned in 2004-05.

The on-site police officers handled disciplinary issues formerly handled by teachers and administrators, so the latter could focus on education.

It backfired. Cutting class, disrupting class, wearing hats, and gambling were some ways UPHS students bolstered their sense of self, promoted self-respect, and climbed the social ladder at school.

While these behaviors suggest that UPHS students did not like school, Nolan found that, to the contrary, students believed in school and held “an imagined ideal of schooling” in which they aspired to academic achievement. Rather, students did not like UPHS’s disciplinary policies and rebelled against them.

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