Ask any public high school student: violent in-school fights are on the rise and discipline is on the decline. Just consider one public high school: Madison East in Madison, Wisconsin.
In late September, local media reported a series of “disturbing” cell phone videos depicting vicious fights and beatings occurring in class and on school grounds over the course of several days. Then, several hundred students walked out of school twice in one week protesting the school’s sexual harassment policies.
The protest apparently spilled over to other local high schools, resulting in marauding groups of students causing “harm to others,” damaging “property in the downtown area,” and publicly “calling out” suspected sexual harassers, according to an email from one of the area school districts.
A few days later, on Oct. 20, 10 police officers responded to fights in a “massive crowd” of more than 100 students at Madison East. On Nov. 8, more than 15 police officers responded to what the media described as a “melee” in which five students were taken to the hospital. The next day, more than one-third of all students stayed home out of fear.
In all, Madison police were called to Madison East and its “surrounding area” 63 times during the first few months of the school year.
Madison East is no outlier. A simple Google search reveals similar headlines from around the country: “Woman with gun arrested as IMPD breaks up large fight at George Washington High School” in Indiana, “Big brawl At Woodhaven High School results in minor injuries” in Michigan, “Police investigating after large fight in parking lot of West Mecklenburg High School” in North Carolina, and “Reynolds Middle School is shutting down in-person learning for 3 weeks to address student fights, misbehavior” in Oregon. All these stories originated during the same week.
So what could be causing such a spike? Or perhaps more frighteningly, is this a new normal? Many factors may be contributing to this upward trend, but a few probable culprits require serious scrutiny.
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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