A Liberal Mugged By Reality. Remember That Old Line?

This afternoon, at East High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the school my son attends, a student let another student in through an unsecured door. The principal, Lori Frerk, in conjunction with the Green Bay Police Department (GBPD), locked down the school. An investigation turned up a gun in one of the student’s locker. After further investigation, Green Bay Public Area Schools (GBPAS) and GBPD determined that there was no intent to harm students or staff.

I wrote the principal seeking follow up. I told her that I am a criminologist and that my son attends East High. She responded with a cut-and-paste from the GBAPS statement I shared in my email to her. I responded asking why the kid had a gun in his locker. I mean, a kid has a gun in his locker, shows up to school, another kid lets him in through an unsecured door, and there is no intent to harm anybody. Nothing to see here. Move on. No. Let’s not move on.

In the meantime… I receive an email from GBAPS that we’re going to virtual learning—again. They can’t keep our public spaces safe, so we go to virtual learning.

The principal’s response: FERPA and confidentiality. FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 USC § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). But I wasn’t asking about the student’s personal information. I understand FERPA. I was asking why there was a gun on campus. This question is the equivalent of a statement that it was determined that there was no intent to harm others. GBAPS is already speaking publicly about intent. The GBAPS statement even describes the circumstances. If my question violates FERPA, then so does GBAPS’ statement.

That was the substance of what I wrote back. So parents can’t know why there was a gun at the school their children attend. They’re supposed to be satisfied with “further investigation determined the student did not intent to harm students or staff.” Given the scenario, that determination is hard to swallow. That’s why I asked for follow up. It’s my business. I’m not satisfied.

This is the technocracy in action. Elites are running the show and the proles are only supposed to know what the technocrats want them to know. I’m a criminologist with a vested interest in this situation and I’m treated as if I don’t understand the law and I have no right to obtain crucial information about what’s going on at the school my child attends.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette—”Handgun found in student’s locker at East High School; Green Bay schools grades 6-12 to have online instruction rest of the week—Police are recommending prosecutors charge two students in connection to bringing a weapon into a school. The students were placed in secure detention with the juvenile authority. But they were not planning to use the gun, GBPD said. Well, that’s a little bit more information. But it doesn’t tell me why there was a gun in a jacket in a locker at my son’s high school. I am not feeling very reassured.

This incident follows three social media threats made last week toward another Green Bay High School, Preble. I joked on Facebook that social media threats of violence were becoming the equivalent of pulling the fire alarm to get out of a test. This incident today has put me in a more serious mood. Across the district, twice as many students were absent last week than in a regular week, this, according to district superintendent Stephen Murley, the result of parent and student concern about school safety. They’re right to be concerned. I apologize for my quip.

As some of you know, I have written opinion pieces and testified before the school board in opposition to the trend in physical security in our schools. On June 8, 2018. I published a piece in the Green Bay Press Gazette (picked up and carried by USA Today), titled “Police in schools does not make them safer.” On June 14, I published more radical piece in TruthOut’s BuzzfeedHow Garrisoning Schools With Armed Resource Officers Normalizes Authoritarianism.” In that piece I write, “Instead of controlling guns like every other rational democratic country, communities are asked to model their schools after the garrison, generating profit for weapons and security firms.” Campus Reform and Accuracy in Academia criticized my views.  

I formed that opinion in the midst of sharply declining crime rates due to general strengthening of public safety. I am a libertarian, and the less control we have over the individual the better. I am still committed to libertarian principle. And I am still committed to keeping guns out of our schools (while supporting gun ownership for hunting and personal protection, a view I have more strongly gravitated towards given what’s going on in the country).

However, governments have since abandoned, or at least relaxed, commitment to public safety. This is thanks to antiracism and the woke progressive insanity infecting our urban spaces. All this talk of de-policing and prison abolition and the rhetoric of social justice, i.e., the preaching of ethnic and racial resentment and false attribution of personal failure, is undermining the legitimacy of our social institutions. The predictable consequence of this is social disorganization and demoralization and rising crime and violence.

If your opinions don’t change in the face of evidence, then you have failed the rationality test. Our nation is in the middle of an explosion in criminal violence in the United States. Green Bay, Wisconsin is experiencing a sharp uptick in criminal violence. We can’t move on. We have to get back to what works. End the woke nonsense and return to responsible limited government focused on public safety and values of personal accountability. Those are basic and sound republican commitments. I would have written those editorials a bit differently if I had them to do over again.

I sound like a liberal mugged by reality. Remember that old line? Well, I’m still a liberal. Still mugged by reality, though.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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