By Casey Leonard
Months ago, I was shocked to read reports that the Iowa City Community School District has been using small, plywood boxes to seclude students as a form of discipline. But I am even more disheartened by the district’s refusal to put an immediate end to the practice. This is unacceptable.
We should all be concerned about the incredible harm that is being done to the children who endure this perverse punishment. Some students who exhibit behavioral problems have already undergone trauma, and this embarrassing and dehumanizing penalty at the hands of their teachers, and often in front of their peers, only serves to further traumatize them. Our district’s teachers require and deserve more extensive training about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. Our students deserve safe, sensory spaces that help them calm down so that they can return to class to continue learning.
If it takes a village to raise a child, what kind of village are we, Iowa City? Are we a village that turns a blind eye to a practice that dehumanizes both students and teachers? Are we a village that would even defend such a practice? Or do we have enough courage to confront a troubling and unsettling truth and do what needs to be done to fix it? For the sake of all of our children and our own collective humanity, I hope it is the latter.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 223.