Metal Detectors for our kids Our Take

| 12 Jan 2016 | 12:53

Yet another way to measure our separate, and unequal, city schools.

For months now, we’ve been despairing about the deep, and shameful, racial segregation in our schools, as our neighborhoods have become more homogenous. Now, an investigation by WNYC radio and the investigative reporting organization ProPublica has added another layer to the scandal.

For more than a decade now, more than 100,000 middle and high school students across the city have have had to start their day by taking off their shoes and belts to pass through airport-style metal detectors. The practice stems from high school crime rates a decade ago -- rates that have since fallen by nearly 50 percent.

Yet the scans continue. And, not surprisingly, the journalists find that the use of metal detectors is not evenly applied throughout the city: Black and Hispanic kids are nearly three times more likely to be scanned than their white couterparts.

Think about the message this sends to students before they’ve even opened a book. It’s humiliating, and tends to cause problems of its own, as students are forced to stand in line for what can be an hour awaiting scans.

School security experts say the detectors are still needed. We’re dubious (and the journalists point out that the contraband found is tiny, compared to the effort).

But at the very least, a uniform standard is needed, to determine who gets the scanners and who does not. Dated crime stats and old perceptions about dangerous neighborhoods no longer cut it.

Our kids deserve better.