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

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The War on Kids: See This Film

This documentary award winner depicts the police state mentality applied to American school climate today. And the schools shown in this film are mostly those from the leafy suburbs--so you can multiply the control and surveillance and police tactics in these schools by 10, and you have life in the corporate reform schools and no excuses chain gangs that are replacing public schools all over urban America.

From the NYTimes, November 18:

Published: November 18, 2009

A shocking chronicle of institutional dysfunction, “The War on Kids” likens our public school system to prison and its disciplinary methods to fascism. At least now you know why little Johnny won’t get out of bed in the morning.

Arranged in sections that range from merely interesting to downright horrifying, this provocative documentary suggests a system regulated by fear and motivated by the desire to control. Tracing the evolution and application of zero-tolerance policies on drugs and violence, the director, Cevin Soling, amasses overwhelming evidence of institutional overreaction. When an 8-year-old can be suspended for pointing a chicken finger and saying “Pow,” we know that common sense has officially left the building.

Impassioned interviews with educators, authors and medical professionals — and some very perceptive students — warn of the consequences of surrounding children daily with armed security guards and surveillance cameras.

“They don’t really prevent anything; they just take pictures of it,” says Jessica Botcher, a student at Columbine High School. Those pictures, however, are electrifying: an armed SWAT team terrorizing high school students in South Carolina; a tiny, terrified girl being handcuffed by burly police officers. Offering neither balance nor solutions (a segment on the overuse of medications like Ritalin is especially powerful, but especially in need of counterargument), “The War on Kids” questions what kind of citizens we are producing. Parent or child-free, we all have a dog in that particular fight.


Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Directed by Cevin Soling; edited by Jeremy Carr; music by Martin Trum; produced by Mr. Carr, Dawn Fidrick and Mr. Soling; released by Spectacle Films Inc. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. This film is not rated.


  1. Jennifer5:17 PM

    This video was unbelievably disturbing. I didn't realize how ridiculous schools have gotten. I'm an Education student and I've had times where I've doubted becoming a teacher for many reasons but after watching this it just makes me want to teach that much more because if I'm not involved I can't help make a difference. I don't see why school can't go back to how it was when I was in elementary school which was 23 plus years ago. When I was in Kindergarten and I went down the slide backwards Ms. Bauer grabbed my ear and sat me on the chair and I had to watch my friends play. Was that abuse, heck no!! If that happened today the lawsuits and political tape would be flying everywhere. Give power back to the teachers and principals in schools and the parents outside of school. Let a parent discipline their child so when they come to school they're respectful and if they get a little out of line in school they're dealt with in school, not by the law. Security guards, police, K-9 units and metal detectors have no place in schools. When the terrible violence happened at Columbine it wasn't because there wasn't enough security it was because somewhere along the way those 2 boys lost their way and no one found them to bring them back. Has having prisons made our crime rate any less, no! What makes anyone think that by running a school this way they are benefitting the students? Educate our children, put the money back into the system, get them the supplies they need to succeed and sometimes maybe that's a counselor at school, just someone to talk to, or a peer group. Stop being ridiculous like the recent arrests of the students who had a food fight, I mean come on! Children are not allowed to be children anymore, parents aren't allowed to be parents and teachers aren't allowed to teach, what has happened to our country?

  2. Anonymous1:29 AM

    Schools being prison like is situational at most. This video, like a lot of media, is mostly hype. Administrators and police officers have to keep our schools safe for the kids who are going to school to learn, but unfortunately the reality is, not all kids have that same agenda. I worked in a school in Houston where a fifth grader was arrested for bringing pot to school to sell to his friends. What are they supposed to do? Allow it?
    However, I was wondering, what is the culture in these schools? What kind of school climate is being formed for these kids to feel like school isn’t fun? The boy in the video states his summer was fun and then he goes to school and “nothing is good anymore”. What are his teachers doing in his classrooms to get him engaged in school? There seems to be a “disconnect” between the curriculum and the child and it’s the teacher’s, and the school administrator’s, job to ensure that connection is present. I also agree that parents do not discipline their children enough and rely too heavily on medication to solve their child’s behavior issues.