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Police in the Hallways

Police in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School

Kathleen Nolan
Foreword by Paul Willis
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Police in the Hallways
    Book Description:

    Through in-depth interviews, Kathleen Nolan offers a rich account of daily life at a Bronx high school where police patrol the hallways and security and discipline fall under the jurisdiction of the NYPD. With compassion and clear-eyed analysis, Nolan sounds a warning about this alarming convergence of prison and school cultures and the negative impact that it has.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7864-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Paul Willis

    InPolice in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School, Kathleen Nolan updates our understanding of urban schools in light of a changing political economy and the turn toward penal institutional practices in American schools as exemplified, for instance, in zero-tolerance approaches to student behavior. Nolan’s fine-grained ethnography operates at the frontiers of larger questions about how social structure relates to local practices and cultures. As schools begin to resemble prisons, the disappearance of any reasonable prospect of decent-paying jobs for most also makes the context of this study very different from that in which I wroteLearning to...

  4. INTRODUCTION Studying Urban School Discipline: A Bronx Tale
    (pp. 1-18)

    One afternoon, I was checking my mailbox in the main office of the high school where I worked in the South Bronx. Suddenly, the quiet that settled upon the school late in the day was shattered as three police officers pushed a small black boy through the office door about ten feet from where I stood. A stocky white male officer pinned the boy, who appeared to be no older than thirteen, against the wall. The officer yelled directly into the boy’s face and pressed on his chest. The boy was letting out loud sobs, unable to speak. A female...

  5. CHAPTER 1 How the Police Took Over School Discipline: From Policies of Inclusion to Punishment and Exclusion
    (pp. 19-38)

    In 2007, in avon park, florida, six-year-old Desre’e Watson, who was black, had a tantrum in her kindergarten classroom. As children generally do during a tantrum, she cried, kicked, screamed, and became even more upset when the adults present tried to physically constrain her. School officials opted to call the police. When Desre’e saw the police, she cowered under a table in fright, but the officers quickly managed to grab her and pull her out of her hiding spot. Because her tiny wrists were too small for the adult-sized handcuffs, the cops placed the cuffs on her biceps. She was...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Signs of the Times: Place, Culture, and Control at Urban Public High School
    (pp. 39-52)

    Urban public high school is a large public high school that has served the surrounding communities for nearly one hundred years. It is located on a rather typical thoroughfare—part commercial, part residential. Along the street, there are several take-out restaurants selling Chinese and Jamaican food, a few bodegas that cater to the vast numbers of local English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean immigrants, a Subway sandwich shop, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and other small storefronts, most with dingy exteriors, that occupy the ground floors of residential dwellings. Despite the variety of shops near the school, there is little in the way of...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Instituting the Culture of Control: Disciplinary Practices and Order Maintenance
    (pp. 53-72)

    Although a variety of policies and practices were part of the culture of control inside UPHS, the most central was the systematic use of order-maintenance-style policing. This included law-enforcement officials’ patrolling of the hallways, the use of criminal-procedural-level strategies,¹ and the pervasive threats of summonses and arrest, which together led to three essential consequences. First, the heavy policing of students on a daily basis and an official policy of police intervention for minor school infractions led to the criminalization of misbehavior. In fact, frequently the police intervention itself triggered the behavior that was ultimately considered criminal. Second, disciplinary incidents that...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Against the Law: Student Noncompliance and Contestation
    (pp. 73-94)

    Routinely, students at uphs were summoned to criminal court or got arrested as an outcome of a series of interactions beginning with the breaking of a school rule. At times, the pivotal moment occurred when an officer grabbed a student’s arm or pulled a hat off a student’s head. At other times, the inciting moment happened when a student was approached by a law-enforcement official and asked for identification. This process was a defining characteristic of the culture of control inside the school and a key element in the linking of the school to street policing and institutions of the...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Tensions between Educational Approaches and Discourses of Control
    (pp. 95-116)

    Deans and administrators at UPHS asserted their own disciplinary strategies and even, at times, intentionally subverted the use of criminal justice or school discipline. They often strove for what could be called a culturally relevant disciplinary approach. The strategies I observed, such as counseling, parental contact, mediation, and problem solving (addressing the academic or organizational issue that might be causing the misbehavior), generally grew out of educational or social-psychological frameworks rather than a criminal-justice framework. However, at the same time, the overarching criminal-justice framework produced institutional discourses of control and influenced almost all interactions between school disciplinarians and students during...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Underlife: Oppositional Behavior at Urban Public High School
    (pp. 117-144)

    Kids gotta act tough and stupid when they get here, ’cause, you know, they hear about the reputation [of UPHS]. So it’s like they want to make sure they’re not picked on,” Kericia, a small black girl with bright eyes and hair neatly pulled back in a tiny ponytail, told me one day as we sat in the lunchroom.

    “Is that what it was like for you when you first came here?”

    Kericia, now a sophomore doing well in her classes, giggled and looked sheepishly at me. “I see a lot of stuff, but I stay out of trouble.” Indeed,...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Living Proof: Experiences of Economic and Educational Exclusion
    (pp. 145-162)

    What do you want to do when you finish high school?” I asked Stephanie, sixteen, one day as we sat together at a corner table in the lunchroom. Silence. Her face tightened, and after a long pause she frowned and shrugged her shoulders. I had gotten the same response to this question many times before, and it was painful for me to see. Stephanie was one of those students who had stopped dreaming, or at least daring to articulate her dream, of her future. In fact, she did not expect to graduate from high school. She was lacking too many...

  12. CONCLUSION Recommendations for Effective Urban Schooling and Sound Discipline
    (pp. 163-184)

    Perhaps the most important insight that emerged from this study is that within the framework of zero tolerance and order maintenance, students end up getting summoned to criminal court for incidents that began with the breaking of a minor school rule, not the law. Cutting class, wearing a hat, or being disruptive did not directly lead students into the criminal-justice system; instead, the behavior that resulted in an arrest or summons often came onlyafterthe student was confronted by law-enforcement officials. Frequently, when students chose not to comply with law enforcement or attempted to explain themselves, their “disrespect” or...

  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 185-186)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-194)
  15. Works Cited
    (pp. 195-202)
  16. Index
    (pp. 203-210)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)