"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Friday, March 27, 2009

terror cells

we had a lockdown yesterday, not because of violence on the perimeter of the school, but because of student revolt on campus. that's right. we had a lockdown to protect us from the students.

apparently, a group of students started a riot during lunch and the security and administrative staff had to do everything short of hosing them down to keep them from climbing the fences.

later, during class change, approximately 100 students organized a "runout" / managed to escape school en masse. the teachers were then quickly ordered to go on lockdown mode, to keep the students in their classes.

it happened again today. the lock-in, that is. rumors of a second escape attempt were spreading thru the student body, and the administration pre-empted it by cancelling 6th period, trapping all students (and teachers) in their 5th periods. no one was allowed in the hallways until the end of the school day, at which point everyone was forced out. after school programs were cancelled, students were ordered to leave campus by 3:15.

teachers talked after school about being attacked: the stampede of students that knocked over one teacher, while students attacked another teacher with paper airplanes. one woman showed me her neck, pierced by a paper arrow, swollen and bleeding. the administration expressed concern for trampling, justifying the use of mace on a crowd of middle schoolers.

when the staff pass each other in the parking lot, we try to understand the students' actions. some wondered if they were trying to protest something, maybe the teacher layoffs, a modern middle school version of a walkout. some found the new food policy a more convincing motive ("you can give them a dress code or lengthen their school day, but don't take away their food! that makes them angry!")

the week's events have sent the school into chaos. no one understands the actions or the motives. they are erratic, unpredictable, and because they seem to have no direction or purpose, the school is at a loss as to how to stop or prevent them, other than physical force or coercion, bribery.

at an assembly, administrators threaten arrests and fines, more mace, expulsion. they use dramatic phrases, "we will find you," "we will keep you safe at all costs," "if you want something changed, write a letter to President Obama." they try to explain how things are gonna go, "you are the students. we are in control," while the auditorium buzzes with energy and rebellion, and the occasional "f*** you!" the students are experimenting with their newfound power, unpredictability and sheer numbers, and in the hallway 5 administrators from the district, with badges hanging around their necks, stand with their hands behind their backs, ready to body slam any children who try to get past them to the exits.

while the comparison has always been obvious, this week's events have stretched experience past mere analogy. the school is a zoo, class changes a running of the bulls, the school is a prison, and the inmates are running the asylum.

all this makes me wonder if there are little terror cells of students plotting their next actions. i wonder if there is a Gitmo equivalent hidden somewhere on this campus. perhaps the elementary school we annexed? i wonder if there will be Patriot Acts and wire-tapping. already i see the parallels: backpack searches in the mornings before entering school, randomly pulling students from classes for questioning. today we were on "High Alert." is that the orange or red threat level?

welcome to the monkey house,

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