Ben Fields Was Wrong But What About The Student?

by Yvonne Chase on October 29, 2015

Clutch My Pearls
Yesterday, I had a spirited conversation with one of my Twitter followers about the Spring Valley High incident.  While we both agree the cop, Ben Fields, was wrong, she took issue with me for speaking on the behavior of the student.  Watch the horrific video that made me clutch my pearls and we’ll talk after…

Why Was The Cop Called In The First Place?
I was mortified after watching.  What’s equally disturbing to me was the lack of reaction from the students and teacher.  The teacher just stood there and let it happen. Did you notice? Here’s the back story; the teacher asked the student repeatedly to stop texting and put her phone away.  She repeatedly refused and that is when the teacher called the cop into the classroom.  Whoopi Goldberg and the gang discussed this on The View and Whoopi asked a great question, “Why was a cop called in the first place?” I’d like an answer to that question too.  Why wasn’t a school administrator called? Raven Symone’s comments sent people over the edge.  They were along the lines of her commentary about Watermelondria.  She said, “The girl was told multiple times to get off the phone. There’s no right or reason for him to be doing this type of harm; that’s ridiculous, but at the same time, you gotta follow the rules in school. First of all, why are there cellphones in school? This shouldn’t even be a problem to begin with, and he shouldn’t have been acting like that on top of it.”

What You Doin On Instagram?
She continued, “He was actually sued for false arrest, excessive force and battery in 2007 after a couple accused him of manhandling them. He has a record, and he’s still hired.  But at the same time, get off yo’ phone.  You are in school, get off yo’ phone.  What you doin’ on Instagram?”  Her co-host Paula Faris also chimed in and said, “Its get off your phone but it doesn’t seem that young people have that respect for authority and I think a lot of it comes from the home.  If the parents aren’t demanding respect, if the parents aren’t bringing their kids up right, they expect the teachers and they expect the administrators to instill values. That’s your job as parents okay!”

It’s A Frustrating Battle
Paula sounds like my mother when she was a teacher in NYC.  She used to come home daily and talk about how bad the kids were; they don’t listen, teachers have to be parents, counselors, therapists, advisors, ministers, mentors and everything else to students but if they cross the line into parent or any of those other roles to get the classroom/students under control, their job is at stake.  It’s a frustrating battle many teachers face.  My sister has been a teacher in NYC for 27 years.  A girlfriend is a teacher in Atlanta for the past 15 years.  Another girlfriend has been teaching in NYC for 25 years.  My brother is also a teacher in NYC.  Each and every one of them can tell you the battles they face in the classroom.  Their hands are tied!

Doesn’t Have A Home
Today I learned the 16-year-old girl in question doesn’t have a home.  She’s actually an orphan being cared for by the foster care system. I’m not surprised by that at all.  I’m sure the majority of students at her school are in the same boat which is why cops are present on the school grounds.  One of the things I said to my Twitter follower yesterday in our conversation was who’s raising her? Who’s teaching her how to behave in the classroom? The answer to that is no one and that is an issue that needs to be discussed.

All Hell Could Break Loose At Any Moment
My girlfriend in Atlanta and I talked about this and I commend her for still being a teacher after all she’s seen and goes through on a daily basis.  She works at a school that keeps cops on the grounds because all hell could break loose at any moment.  She says, “The kids are bad Chase! They don’t listen!” Many of her students are in the same boat as this 16-year-old girl; being raised by grandma, in and out of the foster care system or raising themselves.

Dippin It Low In The Club
Too many black kids today are being raised by grandma.  Grandma used to be of grandma age; 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and up.  Today, grandma is in her 20’s and 30’s still dippin’ it low in the club.  When does she have time to raise a child? I bet most of the kids in that school are raising themselves. That’s a problem! Now let me say this again before you all throw shoes at me; Ben Fields was wrong! He should not have used such excessive force.  He needs to have his head examined.  Clearly he’s got some bottled up rage.  With that said, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if she would’ve listened to her teacher and put away her phone.

Ben Fields
Something to think about…

What say you? What are your thoughts on this entire situation?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gia October 29, 2015

When you work in a high need school you see these issues all the time; it’s a combination of poverty and race. And poverty makes you not think straight – and has a whole series of societal ills associated with it (there’s tons of research to support this). The people that are supposed to be in charge – teachers and administrators stop caring because students come to school and class with problems bigger than a teacher can handle. That doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to not treat a child/student like a student. That teacher should not have called the cop for this – this is NOT disturbing a class. There were so many other things the teacher could have done, but I get it – they’re fed up by their situation also.
I’ve worked in high need school districts; I’ve seen the difference in classroom mgmt between a high need school where kids can come from anywhere and the opposite. I sat in a classroom where most of the students did not care to be there and paid no attention to the teacher. This was the teacher’s reality daily – but he kept teaching to the few that would listen as frustrating as it was for him. That’s all the teacher needed to do and this would have been avoided. When the adults in schools give up, chaos ensues.

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Yvonne Chase October 29, 2015

@Gia,

You’re 100% correct. The teacher should not have called the cop. I’m sure there were other things the teacher could’ve done but like you said, I’m sure he’s fed up like most teachers who teach in high-need schools. It’s a lose-lose battle.

Sad!
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Nikki October 30, 2015

The fact that the student refused to put her cell phone away may seem too trivial to call for the officer’s assistance, but it’s an indication of a bigger problem. One article revealed that the principle was called to retrieve the girl before the officer had to be called. I’ll get to the officer’s behavior later, stay with me. Even if the principal hadn’t attempted to manage the student, the teacher asked her several times to refrain and leave before he resorted to calling outside assistance. At this point, we have a side show and no learning is taking place. Even worse, a large percent of the students are taking this spectacle in and surely weighing the risk of acting out themselves. Once they watch the authority figures have no effect on student behavior too many times, you’ve got anarchy on your hands. That said, this degree of defiance cannot be ignored. Rampant behavioral problems and lack of poor support is a huge reason some public schools suffer low literacy rates and standardized test scores, along with soaring violence and suspension rates. The first half of the video shows her clearly not willing to get up and follow the officer either. If his intentions were to man handle her, I believe he could have snatched her out of that seat instantly. Instead he attempted to pry her up by her upper leg and body. Her pushing back and resisting causes her to fall backwards. Once she hit the floor he seized his opportunity to get her closer to the door and in a more open space to cuff her. Did he fling her a bit hard? Yes. But they were engaged in a struggle. Anybody with a half a brain knows that helping her off the floor gently was not an option. Could he have spent a couple of minutes gently wrestling her up to her feet and tearing up the room? Yes. But in that split second he had to react, I didn’t see him slam her directly at his feet out of malice. He flung her forward in an open space and cuffed her. So how would you have handled the situation differently if you were the teacher, principal or officer?

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Yvonne Chase November 2, 2015

@Nikki,

I can’t say how I would handle the situation because I wasn’t in the situation, and none of us knows what we would do. My response would probably depend on the extent of her behavior. Did she take out her phone for a quick second or was she sitting in class on a text marathon? What was she doing with/on her phone? Did she give me lip, attitude and sass when I politely asked her to put it away? Did she do the same to the principal? To me, calling the cop into the classroom was more about teaching her a lesson than about the phone.

You’re right Nikki. the fact that she refused to put her phone away is definitely indicative of a bigger problem. The fact that the principal was called and that didn’t move her to comply says a lot. I understand why the cop was called. I mean if you’re not going to listen to me, your teacher, or the principal, you leave me no other choice.
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catherine gacad November 2, 2015

as always, yvonne, you bring up so many important points that i agree with. i feel for teachers these days and everything that they have to deal with and put up with. parents need to be parents!
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Yvonne Chase November 3, 2015

@Catherine,

I’m surrounded by teachers who all have the same complaint. Nobody’s raising these hell raiser kids and teachers are expected to do it but if they do, there’s hell to pay. It’s a vicious cycle.

Parents do need to be parents however, people need to stop having kids out of wedlock! The foster care system is not responsible for the child you chose to make. Its a cycle that needs to end.
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