Balancing Power and Humanity

The remarks below were posted in response to the following thread on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution educational blog, “Get Schooled”:

MaryElizabethSings :

My suggestion at the time was that the school’s officer should not have forced the student out of her desk with such force, but that he should have slid the desk with her in it out into the hallway, outside of the room, closed the classroom door so that the teacher could have retained control of her classroom, and simply left the rebellious student in her desk alone in the hallway. Then, he should have walked away leaving that situation in the hands of the principal to make the next call – probably suspension from school for a few days.


 Poster #1


Poster #2
She had already defied an administrator at the scene.  The officer was removing her from the scene of the disturbance.

I realize that the officer was removing her from the scene of the disturbance and that the student had already defied an administrator at the scene.

What I suggested was a different approach to HOW the officer could have removed her that would not have been so violent.  The officer was fortunate that that kind severe force did not result in a life-altering body injury to that student.

In my suggestion, he could still have removed her from the others in the classroom by simply sliding the desk (and her in it) outside of the room and the teacher could have regained control and continued with her lesson.  The student would be in the hallway outside of her room.  If, then, the student had gotten out of her desk to leave the general area or to reenter the classroom (hopefully the teacher would have locked her door, though), she could have been removed bodily without the obstruction of a desk between the officer and the student.  The authority of the principal’s ruling, probably suspension, would have stood firm, as with any other student who is suspended from school for a certain amount of time.


 Poster #4:

Sorry, but when a law enforcement officer give you a direct, lawful order, you are required to comply.  There is no “negotiating”.  YouTube is full of videos of police officers instructing a driver to “step out of the car” and when they refuse to comply, they are removed by force.

Maybe schools should do a few classes in Civics on how to respond appropriately to law enforcement officers.

Maybe the teacher should have been more understanding of why this student was having such a bad day….  {{heavy sarcasm}}


Unless one is totally obsessed with power, then I believe that my suggestion was the most rational and most effective suggestion presented.  I have worked in schools for 35 years.  My way would have maintained control for the teacher, asserted that the teacher and/or principal has the ultimate power, and not brutalized the sensibilities of the offending student nor the students observing how authority is used.

Perhaps, police should begin questioning their own practices to insure that humanity is balanced with the need for control.

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2 Responses to Balancing Power and Humanity

  1. dbm1fromjaybookmansblog says:

    Mary Elizabeth’s idea here is a very good one.

    There is a difference between a car and a student’s desk.

    The age range for car drivers is different from the age range for students in school.

  2. Thank you for your comments, dbm1. You made two significant and discerning points for readers to consider regarding this specific classroom situation. I appreciate your taking the time to post.

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