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A Need to Shift: Damage to Desire

jayah's picture

           I attended my neighborhood high school, which is located in an urban area. The high school is not in the best condition. The ceilings were peeling and leaked often when it rained, it had asbestos in the auditorium, the lights were dim, and many other things were wrong with the building; however many of the teachers were superior. Many students, teachers, and parents complained about the school building, even going on strike at City Hall. Governor Christie refused to visit the school to see the bad conditions of the high school so that maybe he can give money for it to be fixed or rebuilt.

            Although I found it disheartening that the governor refused to visit the school, what I found even worse is the comments that I read on the local newspaper website. People referred to the students as “animals in a jungle,” and others, who may have never even been to the school, commented, “why should Christie give the school money when many of the students do not want to learn?” I note that they may have never been to the school because there is obviously learning occurring if they walked through a classroom. 

          I tried to understand why they referred to the students as animals and thought that they did not want to learn, but then I noticed that there are negative perceptions in the newspaper. Whenever something bad happened at the school, it was greatly publicized, but when there was something positive, it was not located in the newspaper. Therefore, outsiders looking in viewed the school as “bad.” This reminds me of Ever Tuck’s piece because while there is a “time and place for damage-centered research,” there is also a time to show the school in a positive light so it may be “desired.” Urban schools are not all bad, and should not be depicted as such just because of its geographic location and the location of where many of the students come from. Students from suburban areas are not more behaved or more knowledgeable than students from urban areas, but because the media and researchers focus on thinking of this population as “broken”, many people’s perceptions/views are shaped to think of urban areas and students in a negative manner.