Several studies have shown that the need to create safe and orderly schools has increasingly been addressed in a manner that disconnects these priorities from broader concerns related to student success, school culture, and child development. In this paper, we explore the consequences of expanding security procedures in response to an incident involving interracial conflict at an urban high school in the United States. We offer this case study to demonstrate how the primacy placed on safety and security resulted in the neglect of other important educational goals, such as academic engagement and a positive school culture. Through an analysis of observational, interview, focus group, and survey data, we show that while it is essential for schools to take measures that ensure the safety of students and staff, it is equally important for safety to be recognized as part of a larger set of goals that schools must concurrently pursue in order to meet the educational and developmental needs of the students they serve.

Author Biography

Rachel Garver is a doctoral student in Teaching and Learning at New York University. Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. Dr. Noguera is an urban sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment.