Private/Corporate Prison Systems now expanding into Public Schools’ “Security” operations

Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students

by Beau Hodai | PR Watch | November 27, 2012
An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

Trick or Treat

Vista Grande High SchoolAt 9 a.m. on the morning of October 31, 2012, students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were settling in to their daily routine when something unusual occurred.

Vista Grande High School Principal Tim Hamilton ordered the school — with a student population of 1,776 — on “lock down,” kicking off the first “drug sweep” in the school’s four-year history. According to Hamilton, “lock down” is a state in which, “everybody is locked in the room they are in, and nobody leaves — nobody leaves the school, nobody comes into the school.”

corporate prison school security 1“Everybody is locked in, and then they bring the dogs in, and they are teamed with an administrator and go in and out of classrooms. They go to a classroom and they have the kids come out and line up against a wall. The dog goes in and they close the door behind, and then the dog does its thing, and if it gets a hit, it sits on a bag and won’t move.”

While such “drug sweeps” have become a routine matter in many of the nation’s schools, along with the use of metal detectors and zero-tolerance policies, one feature of this raid was unusual. According to Casa Grande Police Department (CGPD) Public Information Officer Thomas Anderson, four “law enforcement agencies” took part in the operation: CGPD (which served as the lead agency and operation coordinator), the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Gila River Indian Community Police Department, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

It is the involvement of CCA — the nation’s largest private, for-profit prison corporation — that causes this high school “drug sweep” to stand out as unusual; CCA is not, despite CGPD’s evident opinion to the contrary, a law enforcement agency.

“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization that advocates for criminal justice reform. Continue reading

Corporate media blames teachers for poor student performance; prescribes union-busting

The war on teachers: Why the public is watching it happen

By , in the Washington Post, 03/12/2012

This was written by Mark Naison, professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York and chair of the department of African and African-American Studies. He is also co-director of the Urban Studies Program, African-American History 20th Century. A version of this first appeared on the blog With A Brooklyn Accent.

By Mark Naison

All over the nation, teachers are under attack. Politicians of both parties, in every state, have blamed teachers and their unions for the nation’s low standing on international tests and our nation’s inability to create the educated labor force our economy needs.

Mass firings of teachers in so-called failing schools have taken place in municipalities throughout the nation and some states have made a public ritual of humiliating teachers. In Los Angeles and New York, teacher ratings based on student standardized test scores — said by many to be inaccurate — have been published by the press. As a result, great teachers have been labeled as incompetent and some are leaving the profession. A new study showed that teachers’ job satisfaction has plummeted in recent years. Continue reading

Banned Books in Arizona: Tucson Students Walk Out, Speak Out

On Martin Luther King Day in Tucson 2012, Tucson students spoke out on the seizure of books from their classrooms and the decision to forbid Mexican American Studies. The public school district, Tucson Unified School District, voted in Jan 2012 to forbid the studies after Arizona threatened to extract millions of dollars. Rethinking Columbus was one of seven books moved to a depository by the schools. There are 50 books on the reading list. 

[Thanks to CENSORED NEWS for bringing the news of this resistance. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Students Step Up Tucson Walkouts

Protest School District Folly and Mexican American Studies Banishment

As the nation watches the Tucson Unified School District’s spiral into disarray, hundreds of students walked out of their Tucson schools Monday in a coordinated protest against the banishment of the district’s acclaimed Mexican American Studies program.(Photo: D.A. Morales)Pouring into the downtown Tucson area from Pueblo, Cholla and Tucson high schools, among other institutions, the students brought their march to the offices of floundering Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) administrators. In recent days, administrators and board members have issued a series of conflicting and inaccurate statements and carried out the extreme actions of confiscating books in front of children. Last week, a recently hired assistant superintendent from Texas made a troubing call for the deeply rooted Tucson students–many of whom trace their ancestors to the town founders– to “go to Mexico” to study their history.

In a district with over 60 percent of the students coming from Mexican American backgrounds, the TUSD board “dismantled its Mexican-American studies program, packed away its offending books, shuttled its students into other classes,” according to an editorial in the New York Times on Sunday, because “it was blackmailed into doing so.” Continue reading

Israeli parliament approves plans to transfer 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin

Bedouins in the Naqab demonstrate against house demolitions and displacements by Israelis in July 2011

by Mansour Nsasra

http://electronicintifada.net/content/israeli-parliament-approves-plans-transfer-30000-palestinian-bedouin/10444
1 October 2011

While attention is focused on the Palestinian Authority’s UN recognition initiative, Israel is quietly taking hugely significant steps to transfer 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) desert from their ancestral lands.

Recently, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, approved plans for another large-scale cleansing of the Bedouin community in the Naqab. The plan would “relocate” 30,000 of those who managed to remain on their land after more than two thirds of all Bedouin were uprooted during the establishment of Israel.

The Bedouin once were a flourishing community of some 90,000 persons who lived around the city of Bir al-Saba (Beersheva). Yet the expulsions that took place in 1948 were the prelude to their ongoing expulsion since then.

After the establishment of Israel, military rule was imposed on the Beersheva Bedouin for more than 18 years. Despite the end of the military rule in 1967, the Bedouin story of dispossession continues until today. Almost all their land was seized by the state using a set of legal maneuvers such as the absentee property law and the land acquisition laws of 1953. Continue reading

Chile: Mapuche Teens Takeover Town to End “Police Brutality”

A decades-old is heating up as Chilean cities spend their winter under a blanket of protests. Forty teenagers staged a toma, or takeover, in Ercilla.

byKatie Manning
30 August 2011

Photo By: Leyla Noriega Zegarra

A decades-old debate over a 150-year-old conflict is heating up as Chilean cities spend their winter under a blanket of protests. Forty teenagers, part of 700,000 Mapuche Indians out of 17 million people in Chile, staged a toma, or takeover, in Ercilla. The small forest-farming town, 600 kilometers south of Santiago, frequently hosts brawls between the police force and Mapuche.

Since August 19, the 11-to-17-year-olds occupied the town’s government center. They’re not giving it back, they said, until Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter hears out their grievances over the “constant police presence” and a lack of intercultural education.

The clock is ticking according to Camilo Catrilanca, the 16-year-old spokesperson of the toma. “We’re not going anywhere. We haven’t had an answer,” said Catrilanca.

Mayor of Ercilla José Vilugrón said the government won’t resort to violence to break up the students’ toma. He sent a proposal over to La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace, with recommendations on how resolve the issues. But the local governor, Miguel Mellado, said if they don’t go willingly, he will forcibly remove the students from the building. Continue reading

On the revolutionary transformation of education during China’s Cultural Revolution

Higher Education Reform During the Cultural Revolution – A Milestone in the Advancement of Our Society

Written by Si Lan

Translated by Pao-yu Ching

Translator’s Note:  One of the most vicious attacks on the Cultural Revolution was launched against the Higher Education Reform that Mao Zedong proposed in 1968 and carried out for a few years during the Cultural Revolution. Mao’s proposal to reform higher education had two main focuses: that university learning had be closely linked to the needs of agricultural and industrial production, and that students who entered universities should be selected from the ranks of workers, peasants, and soldiers. Mao highly valued learning that combined theory and practice, or “learning by doing.” He was concerned that the expanded university education since the establishment of the People’s Republic kept a growing number of students apart from larger society and limited them to classroom learning for too long. As a result of this kind of higher learning, Mao feared that universities would create a new tier of elites who considered themselves above ordinary workers, peasants, and the broad masses. The concrete reform as it was carried out during the Cultural Revolution abolished the college entrance examination, which put great emphasis on book learning. Such examinations had been rooted in China’s feudal past. They favoring young people from intellectual families and put the children of workers and peasants at a great disadvantage. After abolishing the entrance examination, most high school graduates went to work first, and the work place (factories and mines, units within the agricultural communes, and military units) was given the responsibility to decide who would be sent to study in universities. The expectation was that after graduation they would then return to their respective units to work.

Education reform in universities faced strong resistance from many directions. The most important concern was the quality of graduates. Since the entrance examinations selected the ”best” students from the “best” schools, college professors and administrators believed that doing away with them would lower academic standards. Soon after Mao died, his vision of educating workers, peasants, and soldiers to be new leaders of the socialist society was denounced. The new “reformers” charged that worker, peasant, and soldier students were not suited for college education, and they lacked the cultural background to become the educated. They charged that China had wasted ten precious years during the Cultural Revolution by not educating its brightest and most talented youth. In 1977 the college entrance examination was reinstated. The Education Reform instituted during the Cultural Revolution was repudiated and abandoned.

The author of this article was selected from the countryside to attend the Central China Normal University for teachers. She majored in mathematics. In the article she writes about her life experiences, including how she got into the university, how they studied and learned, her life on campus, and what she did after she graduated. She also gives an overall evaluation of education reform during the Cultural Revolution. I think this is a good article for people who are interested in many of the newborn things launched during the Cultural Revolution and their significance in creating a new society even after its demise. For this reason I translated this article into English for a wider audience – PYC

July 21st of this year (2011) marked the 43rd anniversary of Chairman Mao’s directive on China’s revolution in higher education.

In July 1968 we were celebrating the successful completion of the Ninth Party Congress and our nation was covered with the joyful color of red. At this historical juncture Chairman Mao issued the important directive on how we should revolutionize our university education. He said, “We need to continue to build our university education. I am mainly referring here to the science and engineering programs in universities – however, we need to shorten the duration of these programs. We need to revolutionize our education. …University students should be selected from workers and peasants. After a few years of study in universities they will then return to production.”

Chairman Mao’s directive brought spring and rain to nurture the seeds of an education revolution, which were planted in the soil of socialism. Soon after the “July 21 Directive” workers’ universities, communist laboring universities and other new types of universities sprouted up everywhere. Waves of peasant, worker and soldier students poured into universities all over China from the countryside, from factories and mines, and from the military. They came to the new battlefields of continuing revolution, pledging never to disappoint the Party and the people who sent them there. They came with the determination to receive education, to administer the universities, and to use Mao Zedong Thought to reform and change the universities. Continue reading

Palestinians Struggle to Decolonize Education, Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours | Antiwar.com | July 14, 2011

EAST JERUSALEM — Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

“I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes,” Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. “All [the Palestinian] institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis.”

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated.

“The real reason behind all this story of curriculum is actually political. We’re talking about a radical [Israeli] government that is trying to impose its own identity on the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Knowing that Israel doesn’t recognize Palestinian identity, it is a political reflection rather than [for] any kind of educational or pedagogical [reason],” Jibril said.

The move to introduce the Israeli curriculum came after Israeli parliament member Alex Miller from the far-right Israel Beiteinu Party, who heads the Knesset’s Education Committee, stated during a meeting about unauthorized curricula in the education system that, in East Jerusalem, “the whole curriculum should and must be Israeli.” Continue reading