Want to Keep Schools Safe? Scrap the Metal Detectors

Question: Which methods of reducing school violence have worked, and which haven’t?

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Pedro Noguera:  Well violence in schools is to some degree a reflection of violence in society and violence in communities.  It’s very odd that we would think we’d have safe schools when we have such a violent country that we live in where people have guns and people being killed in some communities quite regularly.  At the same time violence in schools is often a product of a dysfunctional culture, kids who have disconnected from learning, a strained or weak relationship between the adults and the students because right here in New York City I could take you to schools, some schools are violent, have metal detectors and sometimes right next door same school, no problem with violence, no metal detectors.  What is the difference?  The school that has the positive culture where the kids are connected to learning and have clear goals tend to not have problems with violence and discipline.  So you can’t address violence without addressing the educational mission of a school.  You have to make… Kids who think they’re headed somewhere behave a lot differently than kids who think they’re headed nowhere and that’s about the mission of a school and about the ability of the educators to convey that mission to kids and to instill a sense in them that of hope and possibility.  I think right now we have in the name of safety turned schools increasingly like prisons.  We have zero tolerance policies.  We have police in schools, metal detectors, surveillance cameras and those devices and strategies don’t produce safety.  They produce an environment where in fact where you feel less safe, because if it takes an officer with a gun to keep the school safe then we’re really in trouble.  Safety is a product of relationships.  It’s a product of children being well known.  It’s a product of or a byproduct of children being very clear about they they’re there and having a stake in their own education.  The hardest children to discipline are kids who have given up on learning and so what does that tell you?  It means that we need to figure out a way to make it matter again and if you can’t do that most of the things we try to do in the name of security will never work.

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Question: Why do you believe school shootings in affluent white communities have hurt minority school districts?

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Pedro Noguera:  Sure.  Most of the mass shootings that have occurred in places like Columbine; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and others were in predominantly white suburban communities.  In most cases the assailants were white males who were harassed or bullied by other kids, but what has happened in response to these shootings? Two things.  One is state legislatures have adopted laws to lower the age at which we will prosecute juveniles as adults, so what we’ve seen is an increase in the criminalization of young people, increase in the number of young people going to prison for relatively minor crimes, and secondly this tendency towards turning schools into prison-like institutions, and that particularly happening in urban areas, and so I think this very punitive approach is a real travesty and one that neither makes schools safe nor does it address the core underlying issues.

Recorded on January 28, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

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When the response to shootings in affluent schools is to turn schools into prisons, poor districts suffer—and violence doesn’t end.

A map of America’s most famous – and infamous

The 'People Map of the United States' zooms in on America's obsession with celebrity

Image: The Pudding
Strange Maps
  • Replace city names with those of their most famous residents
  • And you get a peculiar map of America's obsession with celebrity
  • If you seek fame, become an actor, musician or athlete rather than a politician, entrepreneur or scientist

Chicagoland is Obamaland

Image: The Pudding

Chicagoland's celebrity constellation: dominated by Barack, but with plenty of room for the Belushis, Brandos and Capones of this world.

Seen from among the satellites, this map of the United States is populated by a remarkably diverse bunch of athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs and other persons of repute (and disrepute).

The multitalented Dwayne Johnson, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dominate the West Coast. Right down the middle, we find actors Chris Pratt and Jason Momoa, singer Elvis Presley and basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. The East Coast crew include wrestler John Cena, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, mass murderer Ted Bundy… and Dwayne Johnson, again.

The Rock pops up in both Hayward, CA and Southwest Ranches, FL, but he's not the only one to appear twice on the map. Wild West legend Wyatt Earp makes an appearance in both Deadwood, SD and Dodge City, KS.

How is that? This 'People's Map of the United States' replaces the names of cities with those of "their most Wikipedia'ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place."

‘Cincinnati, Birthplace of Charles Manson'

Image: The Pudding

Keys to the city, or lock 'em up and throw away the key? A city's most famous sons and daughters of a city aren't always the most favoured ones.

That definition allows people to appear in more than one locality. Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, has one of his houses in Southwest Ranches, and is famous enough to be the 'most Wikipedia'ed resident' for both localities.

Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, IL, but his reputation is closely associated with both Deadwood and Dodge City – although he's most famous for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place in Tombstone, AZ. And yes, if you zoom in on that town in southern Arizona, there's Mr Earp again.

The data for this map was collected via the Wikipedia API (application programming interface) from the English-language Wikipedia for the period from July 2015 to May 2019.

The thousands of 'Notable People' sections in Wikipedia entries for cities and other places in the U.S. were scrubbed for the person with the most pageviews. No distinction was made between places of birth, residence or death. As the developers note, "people can 'be from' multiple places".

Pageviews are an impartial indicator of interest – it doesn't matter whether your claim to fame is horrific or honorific. As a result, this map provides a non-judgmental overview of America's obsession with celebrity.

Royals and (other) mortals

Image: The Pudding

There's also a UK version of the People Map – filled with last names like Neeson, Sheeran, Darwin and Churchill – and a few first names of monarchs.

Celebrity, it is often argued, is our age's version of the Greek pantheon, populated by dozens of major gods and thousands of minor ones, each an example of behaviours to emulate or avoid. This constellation of stars, famous and infamous, is more than a map of names. It's a window into America's soul.

But don't let that put you off. Zooming in on the map is entertaining enough: celebrities floating around in the ether are suddenly tied down to a pedestrian level, and to real geography. And it's fun to see the famous and the infamous rub shoulders, as it were.

Barack Obama owns Chicago, but the suburbs to the west of the city are dotted with a panoply of personalities, ranging from the criminal (Al Capone, Cicero) and the musical (John Prine, Maywood) to figures literary (Jonathan Franzen, Western Springs) and painterly (Ivan Albright, Warrenville), actorial (Harrison Ford, Park Ridge) and political (Eugene V. Debs, Elmhurst).

Freaks and angels

Image: Dorothy

The People Map of the U.S. was inspired by the U.S.A. Song Map, substituting song titles for place names.

It would be interesting to compare 'the most Wikipedia'ed' sons and daughters of America's cities with the ones advertised at the city limits. When you're entering Aberdeen, WA, a sign invites you to 'come as you are', in homage to its most famous son, Kurt Cobain. It's a safe bet that Indian Hill, OH will make sure you know Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, was one of theirs. But it's highly unlikely that Cincinnati, a bit further south, will make any noise about Charles Manson, local boy done bad.

Inevitably, the map also reveals some bitterly ironic neighbours, such as Ishi, the last of the Yahi tribe, captured near Oroville, CA. He died in 1916 as "the last wild Indian in North America". The most 'pageviewed' resident of nearby Colusa, CA is Byron de la Beckwith, Jr., the white supremacist convicted for the murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers.

As a sampling of America's interests, this map teaches that those aiming for fame would do better to become actors, musicians or athletes rather than politicians, entrepreneurs or scientists. But also that celebrity is not limited to the big city lights of LA or New York. Even in deepest Dakota or flattest Kansas, the footlights of fame will find you. Whether that's good or bad? The pageviews don't judge...

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