Barbara Boxer

Will Newtown Lead to Lockdown High?

The drive toward regimented, Panopticon-style schools won't make students any more secure.


Sandy Hook Elementary School students returned to class without incident last Thursday, less than three weeks after one of the most horrific school shootings in U.S. history.

Such horrible but extremely rare tragedies often spur legislative panic attacks in which the urge to "do something" overwhelms sober judgment. The tragedy in Newtown, Conn. is proving to be no exception.

In a breathless, italics-strewn press statement the week after the shootings, National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre demanded that Congress "act immediately" to put "a police officer in every school." "Our children" he railed, "are utterly defenseless and the monsters and predators of this world know it." "There'll be time for talk and debate later."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) shares the NRA's "ready, fire, aim" approach to post-Newtown lawmaking. She's introduced legislation encouraging state governors to call out the National Guard for school security. "The slaughter of the innocents must stop," Boxer declared recently: "is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?" A separate bill she's sponsored expands Justice Department grants to schools for "surveillance equipment, secured entrances and other important safety measures."

But if it's "all about the children," as the tired refrain goes, then it's worth looking at how all this legislative hysteria might affect them. Unfortunately, the reaction to Newtown looks likely to accelerate the post-Columbine trend toward Lockdown High.

That's the title of an illuminating 2011 book by investigative journalist Annette Fuentes; subtitle: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse.

Though "the Columbine scenario is terrifying," Fuentes writes, "the odds of it occurring in your hometown are about one in two million." Nonetheless, such terrifying scenarios have driven an ominous redesign of the American schoolhouse: "From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance," our schools are steadily becoming "prisonlike institutions where children are treated like suspects."

Is the prison analogy overblown? Not according to some federal officials charged with helping to reshape the schools. Fuentes quotes Peter Cosgrove of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, part of the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department's R&D shop: "You have kids in school being educated in life and in prison you have a similar situation of people being reeducated. In theory, they're not far apart." The "same technology," he notes, "will be useful in both prisons and schools."

Fuentes describes a post-Columbine project funded by NIJ that created the "first-ever iris-recognition-cum-access-control system" for a rural New Jersey school district whose biggest prior security breach had been a parent who forgot to sign in before delivering cupcakes. Other districts have begun "tracking students like cattle" with radio-frequency chips in student ID cards, letting school officials, like counterterror agents on 24, pinpoint the students' location at any time.

We're likely to see much more of this in the post-Newtown rush to expand federal grants for "secure schools." A chicken in every pot, and a chip in every tot?

As with the War on Terror, there's plenty of profit to be had for security firms and consultants, but it's not clear the drive toward hardened, regimented, Panopticon-style schools is making students any more secure.

It is, however, giving them an education of sorts. "For millions of children," Fuentes notes, "being scanned and monitored has become as much a part of their daily education as learning to read and write." The resulting educational environment seems less likely to produce free-thinking citizens than obedient subjects, attentive to the demands of Homeland Security.

"Why do I feel like this all just going to end in school drones?" Forbes columnist James Poulos cracked on Twitter recently. Don't give them any ideas.

This article originally appeared at The Washington Examiner.

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  1. “The resulting educational environment seems less likely to produce free-thinking citizens than obedient subjects, attentive to the demands of Homeland Security.”

    And that is the entire point. I will say I don’t have any problem with having security cameras and/or security personel at a school if the community votes for it. If it makes you feel better and you’re willing to pay for it than why not? I think having someone dedicated to security is a better idea than just giving the teachers guns and saying you’re the security.

    1. “I think having someone dedicated to security is a better idea than just giving the teachers guns and saying you’re the security.”

      I think having someone’s life’s work dedicated to sitting in a school lobby doing nothing is highly inefficient and wasteful. There’s a difference between giving teachers guns and allowing them to carry their own guns if they so choose, which saves the need for dedicating a security officer at every school.

  2. Treating children like prisoners accustoms them to the police state.

    I went to a school with an open campus, zero security, zero locked doors, and teachers that would send us out for donuts and pizza during class. Thank Jeebus.

    1. When you leave school, you will be the proud owner of a degree in OBEY!!!!!

    2. We weren’t allowed to leave my high school, but security was fake enough that I would walk away whenever I wanted with no consequence. I hear they’ve locked all the side doors now. I wonder how they cleared that with the fire marshal.

      1. The odds of being killed by a gunman are significantly higher than in a fire…so it’s okay.

    3. When I was in High School (Class of ’81) they had a Sheriff that patrolled our parking lot during the day. I think it was supposed to keep us from going out to our cars during study halls and drinking and getting high. It did not work at all. We just laid down in the seats. His name was Floyd so of course we all called him Pink Floyd.

      1. We had an open campus at both of the high schools I attended, but to be fair one of them was in a suburban whiteopia where nearly all the kids 16 or over had their own cars. Enforcing a closed campus would have been impossible there.

    4. My high school was much the same except for the pizza and donuts. And the smokers went across the street to light up.

      The old elementary school had outside doors in every classroom so that kids could go outside for recess or get out of the building if there was a fire. The new “model” design has limited exits so that once a gunman get through the front door, there’s no where to go.

      1. Much the same as Episiarch’s, not AJB’s with Deputy Dawg.

      2. We had a designated smoking area. We also had, like you, doors that exited outside in every single classroom. After seeing Fast Times at Ridgemont High, my friends and I had a pizza delivered during class to the outside door of our Social Studies class. Hilarious.

        1. Jesus, Epi. You must be really old. Like, old as me. We, too had smoking bathrooms. And once you hit 18, you could sign yourself out of class whenever you wanted.

          1. No, actually, I’m not. I was just lucky enough to go to a school run by a university that treated high school students mostly like college students.

            1. Oh, that 3.2 beer! Memories…..!

              1. Thankfully, even with its blue laws, Connecticut has no retarded 3.2 beer limit. I got drunk on 5% beer, dammit!

                1. In a bunch of states, 3.2% beer and lower was legal for 18 year olds, and the real stuff was legal for 21 year olds. Did you not know this, you provincial hilljack?

                  1. I’ll repeat: even with its stupid blue laws about when and where alcohol can be sold, even Connecticut isn’t so retarded as to set alcohol content limits. The battles over laws regarding 18 as opposed to 21 drinking age were all finished a few years before it would have even made a difference for me anyway.

    5. My first year of high school was the first year my high school banned smoking on school grounds. (Actually, I think the district banned smoking on all schools grounds.) So instead of having a designated courtyard area where the kids could smoke, they actually turned it into a neighborhood problem of kids having to go across the street or next door and basically hang out on people’s front lawns. And leaving school property was actually a bad thing from the school’s perspective. So we had security guards who were basically 100% devoted to stopping people who just wanted to go outside and have a cigarette. It was mind-numbingly stupid.

    6. I did as well. the vice president even tolerated ‘scuffle’ matches in the boy’s bathrooms. A simple type of wrestling where the winner is the one who forces the other down to the floor. He came by to watch a number of times but never interfered.

      1. I’m not going to say the school was redneck but it is likely the only one with a drama department who did a play that was a reenactment of a wrestling match between Rick Flair and Dusty Rhoads.

      2. It’s very possible the problem with these youngsters not being able to deal with life is they weren’t afforded the same opportunity we were to settle differences among themselves and their peers on their own.

    7. Treating children like prisoners accustoms them to the police state.

      That, and it teaches them, at an impressionable age, to be irrationally afraid of highly unlikely events, and seek government protection. Just scare the desire for freedom right out of them.

    1. What a retarded motherfucker.

      1. To be fair Nicole, being a retarded motherfucker is a job requirement at MSNBc.

        1. Schultz should be CEO.

        2. I just don’t even get it. I mean, I know these assholes who are on the radio for hours every day just have to bloviate about nonsense to fill up the time. But it’s hard to imagine something more nonsensical he could say on the same topic. When I am queen of the world, Ed Schultz will live in Englewood, and he won’t have a gun.

          1. When I am queen of the world

            So now we see what your real goal in life is.

            1. And I, for one, welcome our new overlady.

              1. Abortions for some, tractor pulls for others!

                1. Is tractor pull code for D&X?

          2. I have no problem with you being queen of reason but others may insist on some sort of oil wrestling competition for the title. And no, we won’t let Warty enter just ’cause he wears women’s clothing and a wig.

            1. Please. I’m way prettier than her.

              1. It’s not all about having bigger tits, you know.

              2. But if you became our queen Warty people might stop taking our viewpoint seriously. /sarc

        1. Is that real? Holy shit, it’s hilarious.

          1. Yeah. I do not promote acceptance or inclusion of Ed Schultz.

          2. For the record, yeah, I think it’s real.
            See you in 20 years for the banning of “intellectually disabled”.

            1. Intellectually disabled? Decent folk don’t use words like that.

            2. It’s “differently intelligent,” you horribly politically incorrect person.

              1. At what point do we run out of synonyms and awkward euphemisms and return to “idiot”?

        2. What sucks is that I just clicked on that so they probably got money.

          1. All the cool Objectivist kids use the adblock add-on.

        3. That’s retarded.

        4. How do I put “this is fucking retarded” on that site?

        5. I take comfort in knowing that the term “dumbass” will be fair and legal for at least the next 50 years.

        6. So, these fuckstains DO realize that the word retard was the PC word for idiot, right?

          Fucking retarded idiots!

  3. was the title of the lead in supposed to be ironic?

  4. Sending a kid to public school is nothing short of negligent.

    1. Hmm, what kind of punishment do I deserve then?

      1. Death, obviously.

        1. I guess that’s one way to take care of the population explosion.

        2. Law Eight: There is only one penalty: Death.

  5. I guess I got out of school just in time. Seems like all this shit started pretty soon after I finished my public school career. It just boggle my mind that it is considered normal now to have police stationed at schools, locked doors, complete control of who enters the building, etc. When the fuck did this happen?

  6. I see the Dems are rolling out poor, wretched, head shot Gabi Gifford for the big show.

    1. Yeah she and her husband are big supporters of the 2nd amendment….they just want to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.


        These people are nothing if not predictable, aren’t they?


          Oh…you’ve seen the McChrystal “Politico” interview then?

          1. What a mediahound. That guy will do anything to get more attention.


            a M4 carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 millimeters

            Hey Stan, the M4 fires a 5.56mm round. Get down and start pushing.

          2. Above the rank of Major, they are all whores.

            1. “Above the rank of Major, they are all whores.”

              I would amend that to say once you hit O-6, you are for sale (soul and all). I contend that the lust for stars does that to even some of the most sensible men I have known – tho’ I have met a couple of BG’s that kept their integrity wholly intact (of course, they went no higher that O-7).

              1. I always noticed the line between Light Cs and Full Birds…I have met only one full bird I liked.
                I have known several Lt Cs who are still decent. I think when you get there and realize they will not give you Col. it is easier to say fuck it.

                1. Ohh and for the record I have met only one West Point grad and let me tell you…he is a fuckstain. All he talks about is how he graduated from West point…whoop D fucking Doo. It was over 20 years ago and he still thinks it is relevant to how he performs (or doesn’t) in his private sector job. He has zero leadership ability and no technical experience…what are my tax dollars paying for?

          3. Inside a decade, proglodytes will be pointing to high ranking officers from the Department of Homeland Security Occupational Army and saying, ‘See. Even they agree we need strict gun laws!’.

            1. Sometimes I wish you would keep these thoughts to yourself. Now I’m a little verklempt.

            2. And there will be a million of the rest of us extending a middle finger or two.

  7. How are chips supposed to stop school shootings? They might help identify the bodies. I bet dog tags would be cheaper.

    1. Go to the bathroom without a hallpass,
      The Man put a tracking chip up your ass.

      1. If a school shooter had the right equipment, he could track down kids if the little bastards run away or hide.

        1. If were going to chip kids I want them to have the tracking equipment that Schwarzenegger had up his snout in Total Recall!

          Get ready for a surprise indeed!

    2. I’m not sure, but I hear that the industry hired Michael Chertoff to explain the chips’ utility to Homeland Security.

  8. I see the first lawsuit has been filed in Knowtown, for a hundred mil. If my kid had been a victim there a lawsuit would be the least of their worries. Maybe beat the school board to death with a gun free zone sign.

    1. Newtown I meant.

    2. I think it’s state law.


    This guy is actually serious I think.

    He does get a good talking to from another random professor who understands a profs job is not hard nor stressful.

    IMHO getting to the point of being a prof is likely much much harder than actually executing the job itself.


    1. I think I’ll write an article about 10 stressful things in my job and see if anyone (including my boss and my wife) gives a shit.

    2. Pure horseshit. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but their stress is largely self-generated. It’s like kids in a pick-up stick ball game complaining that they have to swing a broomstick and catch a ball.

      1. In my experience, the smart ones figured out how to get their TAs to do the lion’s share of their job for them.

    3. IMHO getting to the point of being a prof is likely much much harder than actually executing the job itself.

      The job? Not so difficult if a.) you’re actually qualified, b.) you actually like teaching.

      What’s stressful is university politics. Like church politics, the politics in academia is so vicious because the stakes are so small.

  10. I gradumacated high school in 1990 – they had a smoking yard up until about 1988 or so. The campus was closed, but you could just leave when the security guard went for a coffee break. It came in handy when our 7th period orchestra conductor threw out his back and was out for a few weeks without a sub.

    1. Let me guess…..flute?

  11. It’s like kids in a pick-up stick ball game complaining that they have to swing a broomstick and catch a ball.

    But if you can’t hit the ball with the stick, you won’t get picked next time.

    What could be more stressful than that?

  12. Democide is coming.

  13. I think having someone dedicated to security is a better idea than just giving the teachers guns and saying you’re the security.

    Strangely enough, I find the idea of paying somebody to sit around sucking his thumb while waiting for a preposterously unlikely event to be the height of idiocy. Especially when the school board will be stealing money from me to pay for it.

    1. Good work if you can get it.

    2. That is why it should be voted on and implemented (if desired) at a district level only. Most districts won’t want to waste the cash. If they do, there probaby wasting a ton of your money already and you should move down the road to the next district.

    3. The point is to pad Democratic vote totals by having another person on payroll beholden to the government.

      I’m willing to bet the safety officer would get gunned down in any actual shooting spree, if he or she doesn’t run for cover and hide. I mean, would you risk getting your ass shot if you had a job where you couldn’t get fired even if you screwed up badly?

      Or perhaps it would lurch into the “Escape From Camp 14” scenario over time.

    1. Beautiful:)

    2. I know it’s just a cartoon, but get that finger off the goddamned trigger!

  14. That is why it should be voted on and implemented (if desired) at a district level only.

    That sounds real democratic, and all, but despite the fact that I don’t have any children in the school system, the “There’s a monster under my bed!” soccer moms and the pathetic fools who married them have no problem voting to waste my money on this shit.

    There already is a “school resources officer” at the high school, paid to stare at the girls’ (and probably boys’) asses all day while adding nothing whatsoever productive to the school’s purported mission.

    Actually, it’s worse than that. Instead of just spending all his time beating off in the faculty lounge, he feels obligated to skulk around the parking lot writing tickets for Minor in Possession of tobacco and whatever else he can think of. As far as I can tell, it is official Department of Education policy to ensure every student has a criminal record by the time he or she leaves (not necessarily via graduation) the school system.

    1. I hear ya. Our local High Schools have three principals for the same amount of kids we used to have one for. They waste ridiculas amounts of money. I’m certainly not proposing the idea but I’d definately prefer that to some new fed “TSA style” school security goon squad that would be in every school in the country. I’d also prefer that to gun registration (eventual confiscation).

  15. On a off-topic sidenote. Gawker menaged to put a list of almost all gun owners in New York City.

    How long it’ll be before they got a taste of their own medecine like the Journal News got?

    1. Cross reference with the entire voter DB, select the non-gun owning dems, publish map with heading “Unarmed households in [fill in demographic area]”

      I always liked the idea of “Put a sign in your yard saying “there are no guns in this house” and then talk to me about deterrence.

  16. If we have to tote our kids to school past law enforcement a single time they WILL be home-schooled until college. FUCK the home-school stereotypes; I just don’t give a shit anymore about broad social conformity.

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