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J. Gender Race & Just.


In 1973, Time magazine described a national school system under siege.2 In its article "Blackboard Battlegrounds: A Question of Survival," Time reported that troubled urban youth were rejecting education, terrorizing teachers, and turning the country's schoolyards into battlefields. 3 Claiming that simple survival in the face of such insurgency had become the top priority of school administrators, the article quoted one educator as stating, "'You can't teach anything unless you have an atmosphere without violence."' Despite concerns about a culture of aggression and hostility within the education setting, the article went on to laud new national experiments in increased school-based security and policing, including an on-call "80-man strike force" that one city employed to thwart potential activities of wayward students.s Time conceded that at-risk youth, whom it described as being born to the "jungle of the slums," were largely victims of societal and systemic neglect.6 Yet it joined the growing chorus of voices that urged the forcible take-back of schools as a step toward winning the war against urban youthlargely poor students and students of color.7 In doing so, Time acknowledged such strategies would likely have an impact on the larger community outside of the schoolhouse walls.8 Sadly, over thirty-five years later, the United States has yet to stand down from this combative orientation toward certain children. In fact, campaigns against poor and minority students have only grown more complex and sophisticated in their approaches, and their implications have become increasingly palpable and profound. The campaigns are clearly having an impact on communities outside of the schoolhouse walls.9 This Article explores the implications of our continuing-and now multiplewars on such youth and calls for withdrawal from combat. As this Article will describe, these vulnerable young people continue to find, themselves embattled by classroom educational policies and practices that threaten their wellbeing. It further asserts that, as is always the case during wartime, such tactics have placed such children at great risk, endangering their wellbeing and seriously reducing their chances to thrive and, in some cases, survive.o

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