Brockton High School

From Excellence To Violence: A Massachusetts High School’s Troubled Journey

Brockton High School has found itself embroiled in a crisis of discipline and safety.

Once hailed as a beacon of educational success, Brockton High School in Massachusetts has found itself embroiled in a crisis of discipline and safety, according to the New York Post, which has prompted a mass exodus of students.

Just over a decade ago, the halls of Brockton echoed with pride and accomplishment. A 2009 Harvard University study lauded the school’s transformation, highlighting how dedicated educators had turned it into one of the nation’s highest-performing public schools. Teachers rallied, reshaping the curriculum to emphasize essential skills across all subjects, heralding a new era of academic achievement.

“We used to have a timeframe where people were traveling from across the world to come and observe how we manage a large school as well as we do,” Cliffa Canavan, a math teacher with Brockton for more than two decades, told the Post. “Things have changed.”

Brockton’s decline is based on one factor. Schools superintendent Mike Thomas pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant factor, exacerbating existing issues within the community. With a majority of students coming from low-income families, the pandemic’s economic toll hit particularly hard, amplifying mental health struggles and behavioral challenges.

Thomas also blamed legislative changes. The passage of Massachusetts’ Chapter 222 student disciplinary law in 2012 restricted administrators’ ability to suspend students, leaving educators feeling powerless to maintain order without adequate resources for alternative interventions.

The consequences of these systemic failures are stark. Violence has allegedly become alarmingly commonplace, with students engaging in premeditated fights and forming fight clubs. Parents like Kyanna Washington have been forced to make agonizing decisions to protect their children.

“I wouldn’t let my daughter go there,” Washington lamented. “You couldn’t tell who was fighting who.”

Enrollment has plummeted, with nearly 500 students fleeing Brockton since 2020. Racial disparities persist, further eroding the school’s social fabric.

Efforts to address the crisis, such as requesting the National Guard’s assistance, show the gravity of the situation. While some achievements, like recent academic accolades, offer glimmers of hope, they pale in comparison to Brockton’s pervasive challenges.

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