Children Psychologically Imprisoned-Julian Vasquez Heilig

This article (link below) has me  thinking back to Angela Davis and her comment that testing is a form of discipline and how the tendrils of the prison-industrial-complex spreads its way down, to even the youngest kids. This week a ten-year old boy in the Bronx was arrested, handcuffed and questioned without his mum, or other advocate, with him, for a school yard fight. A girl in the midwest had her braids cut off. Arne Duncan goes to Haiti and tweets about the fact that over one hundred children were silent while listening to their teacher, then goes on to suggest data as a way to help Haiti’s schools. These are not unrelated incidents. I read The Fire Next Time yesterday and I’m saddened by the fact that just fifty years ago the brilliant writer James Baldwin didn’t see how far greed would take us. “There is a limit to the number of people any government can put in prison, and a rigid limit indeed to the practicality of such a course.” If only that were true. On top of physical incarceration too many people of color have records for crimes white people would never be charged for. Starting with schools, children of color are treated as criminals in the making and not given any time to be kids. They are not given the opportunity to be the best they can be as individuals and as members of society as a whole.


5 thoughts on “Children Psychologically Imprisoned-Julian Vasquez Heilig

  1. Frederic Douglas said, “It is easier to care for a child than to fix a broken man.”

    Children are now the group in our culture who are being scapegoated, used and abused. The testing obsession has led to a mental health crisis that is endangering every child that walks into a Texas elementary school. We must
    stand up and advocate for cleaning up this toxic environment that has resulted from the ignorance and denial of arrogant politicians and school administrators.
    Parents, stand up and Opt Out! That is the only way to break the obsession.

    1. Thank you Shully and Texas Parents Opt-out. It’s incomprehensible that people can treat children this way. The Frederick Douglas quote you mention Shully is so pertinent and should flash up before the eyes of anyone making decisions to do with the treatment of children. Opting out is the necessary action at this time. I can’t comment from experience but it seems to me that the parents of children most at risk of being exploited by greed filled automatons are themselves often in a vulnerable situation. I don’t know the most effective way to reach out and to support all parents but the school to prison pipeline needs to stop. I read The Fire Next Time the other day and in it Baldwin comments that there must be a limit to how many people can be locked up. As brilliant as he was, he didn’t see the advent of for-profit prisons and to what degree people’s humanity can be co-opted by greed.

  2. Opting out is the best advice that I have to offer any parent and/or teacher who wants to disrupt the school to prison pipeline. The school counselor who wrote the original letter to Sen. Jane Nelson and the Texas department of Health and Human services can be reached at

    For information about opting out of benchmark and STAAR testing for kids in grades 3-8, check out our FB page:

    1. Very sad and very true. There are many glimmers of hope though and what gives me cause to rejoice is that parents and students (older students) are standing up to the bullies in many places. It beggars belief that anyone thinks it’s ok to treat children this way.

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