Silence is golden at T.T. Knight Middle School
Many of us remember the olden days at school — the bell rings, a mob hits the halls, and then there was five minutes to see friends, get gossip, and get to your next class. At T.T. Knight Middle School, those days are gone.
“I think it’s unfair,” says student D.J. Herm.
Silence is the rule there, because, as Principal Faith Stroud puts it, “I am a principal that uses data.” She installed hallway cameras in October and found that sometimes bullying and fights start there between classes.
In January she cracked down: “We have a structured protocol in place. When it’s time to dismiss the students, line up single-file one behind another, and the teacher actually escorts them from class to class.”
Some kids are passing by while others are still in class. If they talk they can get detention. D.J. Herm says, “When I got detention I think seven or six other kids got it as well.” He received three detentions in two weeks.
D.J.’s father Don Herm says, “When you get a call from school, you’re usually expecting the worst. Your kid’s sick, or hurt, or they did something terribly bad. But when you get a call and the teacher says he has detention because he said ‘Hi’ to a friend in the hallways, you’re kind of like, you know, isn’t there more important things they need to be looking at in the schools?”
Principal Stroud says this is part of a larger effort to turn things around at Knight. The state labeled it a persistently low achieving school because of poor test scores. “We’ve reduced the number of suspensions,” the principal says.
I’m surprised that this surprises people. The focus of public school has always been getting all children to think, act and in some cases dress the same. Preparing them for a life of drone work. In order to accomplish this, they need continued funding from the state and feds who base EVERYTHING on standardized test scores (re: testing how well the student population thinks in a standardized way). I applaud the growing home-schooling movement, one of the few efforts focused on giving our kids some glimmer of independent thought. As one CNN blog commenter put it, “What’s next, orange jump suits and shackles?”