No to "Hands Up Discipline" in Schools

By Enid Lee

It's not okay! None of it is okay! 

As we return to classrooms this week, I ask all teachers and administrators to avoid a practice that I have noted in far too many classrooms. When we want our students' attention, I have seen teachers ask students to freeze and to put their hands above their heads. The students look exactly like the terrorized children in Ferguson and in the video below.

"Prison-like behavior" is too often reflected in educational practice. It is entirely possible to get our students' attention without requiring them to assume this posture. It's a small thing but in my view it is a simple thing that can make our classrooms less like prisons. This video shows that the war on Black people is in full swing: women and men, young and old alike!" We who believe in freedom, cannot rest..." and will not rest!


Enid Lee works with schools districts and individual schools to continuously restructure themselves for equitable outcomes for all students. Lee is co-editor of Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guides to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development.