LETTER: Think of the children

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DEAR EDITOR: On Tuesday (5/14) night, I attended the board meeting at the Aurora Public Schools Professional Learning and Conference Center. It was to my dismay to hear about the story of a student, who was tackled by an APS hall monitor & swarmed by more security, triggering a panic attack and inducing trauma for those who witnessed it and/or were around the incident. For what? A few edibles in his backpack. The student is black and has IEP status.

The fact that Hinkley High School and APS did not do much to repair the situation and in fact appeared to hide the situation, while the security officers acted with impunity did not help. It took a teacher and students speaking truth to power at a board meeting to bring this to light. Unfortunately, this is no isolated incident with communities of color, as a representative from Black Lives Matter 5280 spelled out at the board meeting.

No one’s parents should have to worry whether their kid will be hurt in what is supposed to be a safe learning environment.

Nor can students expect to feel safe in an environment where the actions of security seem to be swept under the rug. Nor can teachers expect that their students will learn in such an environment, where their learning & teaching environment can be barged in unannounced by random drug searches.

While the individual acts of racism such as this incident are at play, we cannot forget the role of systemic practices such as the privatization of childhood with communities of color & poor communities. It must be said that, even with the best teacher in the world, a student’s socioeconomic status is more telling of how academically successful they will be, even on the baseless merits of test scores.

The fact that charter schools are being brought in while incidents such as the one faced by this Hinkley HS student are being swept under the rug speaks volumes of where APS officials interests lie. I do not believe APS officials will change their trajectory out of the goodness of their hearts but out of pressure from below from the combined efforts of students, their parents, their teachers, and community members who have everything to lose from these racist policies.

— Richard Folsom, via [email protected]