Thinking Citizen Blog — “Violence and Chaos” in Brockton High School — Since When? Why? What Is To Be Done? Who Cares? Who Should?

John Muresianu
5 min readFeb 16, 2024

Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day

Today’s Topic: “Violence and Chaos” in Brockton High School — since when? why? what is to be done? who cares? who should?

Teachers are afraid to go to work. Students “feel they can’t navigate the hallways or use the restroom safely.” “Police officers, paid for by the school system, are at the high school each day but in too small numbers to make a difference.”

Today, a few excerpts from an article in the Boston Globe that was truly depressing. Just think that this is 2024 not 1974 or 1954. The problem of a tiny minority destroying the educational opportunity for the vast majority is not new.

How little has been learned in the last half century about the basic requirements of equality of opportunity is just too depressing. Some days, I just want to slink into a corner in a fetal position and weep.

Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE STORY OF CLIFF CARAVAN — VETERAN TEACHER

1. “Cliff Canavan grew up in Brockton and graduated from Brockton High School, where he has been a teacher for more than two decades. He hasn’t taught anywhere else and doesn’t want to. But with the school beset with widespread misbehaviour and frequent bouts of violence, he wonders how much more he can take.”

2. “In December 2022, his arm was broken when he tried to break up a fight after school, one day after he had remarked to other teachers that it was only a matter of time before someone got “seriously hurt — or God forbid — killed.” Caravan will never regain the full function of his arm. He has quit coaching.

3. “Ninety-five percent of the students here are fantastic young adults who deserve better, and we’re failing them.”

SHAMARA TAVARES, SENIOR AT BROCKTON HIGH — a simple fact

1. “Those that are there to hurt others and keep me and others from getting a good education need to be removed. Either take action or watch the rest of Brockton High School fall.” (Tavares)

2. ”In interviews and emotional testimony at a recent School Committee meeting, teachers described first fights that draw crowds of onlookers, open drug use, and verbal harassment of faculty.”

3. Tony Rodrigues, member of the School Committee: the state “has tied our hands” in terms of disciplining students — a reference to a 2012 law that made “exclusion from school a last resort.”

NB: “You can’t function and teach effectively in that kind of an atmosphere.”

PUTTING THE BROCKTON CRISIS IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT Have you seen “Blackboard Jungle” (1955)? If not, well, you should.

1. This is “Lord of the Flies” in a high school in the 1950s.

2. Sidney Poitier had a breakout performance.

3. But most of the disruptive gang members are white, not black.

NB: The rise in “juvenile delinquency” is attributed to the family breakdown caused by the Second World War — with fathers in the army and mother working at a defense plant.

Discipline can not be treated as secondary. Discipline is not optional. Ethics is not peripheral. You can not focus on physics if you are afraid of being assaulted on the way to the bathroom. Other must-see teacher films: “Stand and Deliver,” (1968). and “Waiting for Superman” (2010)

I wrote briefly about these films in a note on December, 2, 2019.

WHERE IS BROCKTON, ANYWAY? ETHNIC COMPOSITION? WHY IS IT CALLED “THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS”?

1. The town is 51% African American, 27% white, 12% hispanic.” One of the highest concentrations of Cape Verdeans in the country — at 9%.

2. The high school student body is 60% African American and 20% Hispanic. The faculty is overwhelmingly white and 20% African American.

3. Brockton has the nickname “City of Champions” because of two famous boxers: Rocky Marciano (1923–1969) “the Rock from Brockton,” and Marvelous Marvin Hagler (1954–2021) whose family moved to Brockton from Newark, New Jersey after the deadly Newark riots of 1967.

Growing violence, misbehavior at Brockton High School has teachers near a breaking point — The Boston Globe

Brockton, Massachusetts — Wikipedia

Marvelous Marvin Hagler — Wikipedia

Blackboard Jungle — Wikipedia

Thinking Citizen Blog — Triple F: The Bermuda Triangle of American Public (and Private) Schools

Thinking Citizen Blog — The Lemon Dance, the Rubber Room, Teacher Quality Matters

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My spin — then periodically review, re-rank, and exchange your list with those you love. I call this the “Orion Exchange” because seven is about as many as any human can digest at a time. Game?

LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY

Updated PDFs — Google Drive

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, (11/17/20)

#3 Israel-Palestine Handout

NB: Palestine Orion (Decision) — let’s exchange Orions, let’s find Rumi’s field (“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. Meet me there” Rumi, 13 century Persian Sufi mystic)

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had.

Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed.

Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away. This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.