"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"No Excuse" Charter School Sends 25 Children to Jail for Food Fight

Last year Perspectives Charter Schools collected over $14 million from the State of Illinois and another million from Bill Gates to create this its own version of penal pedagogy in Calumet. This incident gives a whole new meaning to "a disciplined life." From the NYTimes:

CHICAGO — The food fight here started the way such bouts do in school lunchrooms most anywhere: an apple was tossed, a cookie turned into a torpedo, and an orange plunked someone in the head. Within minutes, dozens of middle-school students had joined in the ruckus, and spattered adults were ducking for cover.

By the end of the day, 25 of the students, ages 11 to 15, had been rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail. A spokesman for the Chicago police said the charges were reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

That was last Thursday afternoon. Now parents are questioning what seem to them like the criminalization of age-old adolescent pranks, and the lasting legal and psychological impact of the arrests.

My children have to appear in court,” Erica Russell, the mother of two eighth-grade girls who spent eight hours in jail, said Tuesday. “They were handcuffed, slammed in a wagon, had their mug shots taken and treated like real criminals.”

“They’re all scared,” Ms. Russell said of the two dozen arrested students. “You never know how children will be impacted by that. I was all for some other kind of punishment, but not jail. Who hasn’t had a food fight?”

The students were released into the custody of their parents on Thursday night, the police said. They were also suspended for two days by the school, the Calumet middle-school campus of Perspectives Charter Schools, in the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side.

Diana Shulla-Cose, president and co-founder of Perspectives Charter Schools, said that an on-campus police officer had called for backup as the food fight escalated and that the resulting heavy police presence had led in turn to the large number of arrests.. . . .

Wonder how many of these cookie criminals are from the white, leafy suburbs?


  1. From zero tolerance reform school punishments to jail, we are now criminalizing childhood misbehavior. Have we lost the ability to at like adults?

  2. raskate2:35 PM

    This is awful. Why not teach the kids why we don't have food fights? Have them clean the mess. Have them apologize to those they disturbed. Be firm. But jail? Who allows this to happen to students?

  3. Good Lord. Whatever happened to having the guilty parties spending a day cleaning up their mess and then some to give back to the community for the damage they did? When did every adolescents failure to conform immediately to our adult expectations become a crime punishable by jail time? Absurd.