Prisons and Schools

A growing number of lawmakers are indicating they are open to considering new gun control measures in the wake of Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But while much of the national debate has focused on limiting access to guns, others are suggesting that schools should arm themselves to defend against attacks.

Amid Calls For Gun Control, Some Push For Weapons At School,” Wade Goodman

I was grew up, or came into some sort of consciousness, just as the collective rebellions of the 1960’s dissolved into the chaos of individual self-expression. In the early 1970’s my suburban schools were slowly but surely transformed into institutions more like prisons, complete with an almost total lack of social services and armed guards with trained dogs stalking the hallways. This was justified, it was said, by the search for drugs.

This happened over the course of a few years, from around 7th grade or so to around 10th grade. At that point I quit high school to go to a technical school and become a photographer. That school, Houston Technical Institute, although it was in the inner city in Houston, enjoyed a special status that somehow allowed it to escape from the usual constraints of the emerging police state in the public schools.

All of this only grew worse as more and more small-town school districts combined into large consolidated schools in the name of saving money. Meanwhile, of course, the Reagan revolution grew, making a national health care system, much less a national health care system with mental health parity, nearly impossible. Standardized testing drained education of life wherever they were used, and they are used a lot.

So here we are, three or more decades into Reagan’s American Morning. Guns we can get in a heartbeat, medical care not so much. So what’s on offer as the current right-wing leaders fight over the budget? More cuts. Ironically, and perhaps not surprisingly, it’s those rebellious youth of the 1960’s, now nearing retirement, that are their main targets. The right will chase them right to their graves, dragging the rest of us along for the ride.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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