Arne Duncan, Secretary for the US Department of Education since 2009, was one of many speakers last Tuesday at the 2015 National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention in Crystal City, VA. Duncan’s controversial ideas about boarding schools are making headlines across the nation.
The idea of boarding schools may seem archaic to some, but Duncan’s theory is sound: there are just “certain kids we should have 24/7,” he said, bringing up the fact that many kids go home to an empty house at the end of the school day.
Duncan proposes developing America’s schools from mere learning places into full-blown community centers open at least 12 hours a day that offer after school activities in a safe environment. Ideally, the centers would also offer college prep and vocational programs, giving kids a chance at success who would otherwise be doomed to fail. Some argue that keeping children in government-run boarding schools would give the U.S. government an opportunity to propagandize children and raise them with their own liberal values.
According to Duncan, keeping kids in school longer would mean an increase in safety because most youth violence occurs on the streets. But data shows otherwise. Despite Duncan’s assertion that the “vast, vast majority” of US schools are safe, the National Center for Education Statistics has data to show that approx. 1.3 million US students between the ages of 12 and 18 face violence at school, more so than anywhere else.
The CDC considers youth violence a “public health crisis” based on the startling statistic that the third leading cause of death among our country’s youth is homicide. Could boarding schools be the answer to the violence plaguing our youth? Or would they serve only to increase bullying and victimization?