Connect with us


Week Ahead – Interest rates are rising

Fed and BoE to fight back against high inflation  Central banks have provided unprecedented amounts of stimulus over the last decade and took that to another level during the pandemic as the world went into lockdown. Now the pandemic has entered a differe



Fed and BoE to fight back against high inflation 

Central banks have provided unprecedented amounts of stimulus over the last decade and took that to another level during the pandemic as the world went into lockdown. Now the pandemic has entered a different phase that policymakers hoped wouldn’t happen and have spent months telling us wouldn’t last. Inflation has arrived and it’s making central banks very nervous.

While most broadly agree that price pressures are primarily being driven by supply-side disruptions that will ease over time, they are also becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their magnitude and duration. The longer high inflation persists, the more likely it is to become ingrained, at which point central banks have a real problem on their hands.

Some central banks have already pushed ahead with tightening monetary policy and the Fed and BoE aren’t far behind. The US central bank is expected to announce a tapering of its asset purchases on Wednesday, paving the way for a rate hike later next year, while the BoE may take the leap on Thursday, with markets pricing in many more next year. Rock bottom interest rates are a thing of the past.

Fed taper is upon us

BoE ponders first rate hike as inflation continues to rise

Japan heads to the polls


The Fed will announce ‘mission accomplished’ on reaching “substantial further progress” on both inflation and employment mandates.  Wall Street widely expects the Fed to formally announce it is ready to start tapering its asset purchases and now the debate shifts to how soon it will signal it is ready to raise interest rates.  Financial markets are pricing in two rate hikes by the Fed next year, largely because inflation pressures are not easing up anytime soon. 

Another key event for the week will be the October nonfarm payroll report.  The US economy is expected to get back on track as 425,000 jobs are filled, and the unemployment rate ticks lower to 4.7%.  For the Fed’s blessing on interest rate hikes, the unemployment rate needs to be lower than 4.3% and inflation will need to remain high. 


Despite Christine Lagarde’s best efforts, the markets were not buying what she had to sell which could be extremely problematic for the central bank going forward. Yields have been rising since the meeting on Thursday and that pressure could intensify in the coming weeks. 

It’s not often that markets will totally disregard the views of central bank heads and that will be a concern for the ECB. As well as laying the groundwork for alternative asset purchases to replace the PEPP program from March at the next meeting in December, we should also prepare for policymakers stepping up their PR offensive as they try to get investors back on board. 

That may be easier said than done in this environment. It doesn’t seem to be that investors don’t believe the central bank, rather they fundamentally disagree with their views on inflation. Unfortunately for Lagarde and her colleagues – and most other central banks – they’ve been very wrong in recent months so there is reason to disagree again. Next weeks data is mostly low to medium impact including final PMIs, unemployment and retail sales.


The Bank of England looks likely to begin its post-pandemic tightening cycle next week as it attempts to quickly get to grips with the inflation problem in the country that Chancellor Rishi Sunak alluded to during the budget this week. Inflation is expected to peak above 5% and persist throughout next year averaging around 4%.

Markets appear to be pricing in a 15 basis point hike at the moment so there is scope for some upside surprise if the Bank leads with 25 basis point rises in the early months of the cycle. Markets are pricing in at least a full percentage point of hikes by the end of next year so whether it does 15 or 25 probably doesn’t make much difference in the longer run.

The quarterly monetary policy report will be released alongside the announcement which should provide further insight on inflation expectations at the BoE and what that means for interest rates. Given how the markets responded to the ECB this week, it will be interesting to see how seriously they take this.


The Central Bank of Russia will release its monetary policy report on Monday, coming only a couple of weeks after it raised rates more than expected in order to combat higher inflation and warning more could follow this year. Inflation is expected to remain close to double its target this year which will require further action. 

South Africa

Local government elections take place on Monday, with a number of ANC seats reportedly at risk. 


The sell-off in the lira has slowed over the last week or so but remains at risk of significant further downside. It stabilised just shy of 10 to the dollar and if that’s overcome, the move could accelerate. CBRT Governor Şahap Kavcıoğlu claimed that a weak lira as a result of the central bank’s policies could fix the current account deficit problem and stabilise naturally, suggesting they must seize the opportunity presented by the pandemic. Not the words of someone that’s going to backtrack any time soon.

Inflation data next week could make for interesting reading. Then again, the central bank is clearly not concerning itself with that anymore so perhaps not.


Evergrande has paid its latest offshore bond coupon, once again, one date before the end of the grace period. That has calmed Mainland markets into the end of this week, as has the continued talking down of coal prices by China’s state planner. USD/CNY remains steady with no sign of a weakening bias by the PBOC, which instead, has been doing large liquidity injections into the local markets.

Next week sees Caixin Manufacturing and Services PMIs released with Manufacturing of most interest. A fall back under 50.0 could see China slowdown nerves increase again and may be bearish for equities. That said, authorities are unlikely to allow stock markets or property sector woes to get out of hand before the Central Committee meeting starting the 8th.


India will have a shortened week with the Diwali holidays falling on Thursday and Friday. A slow week for data with the highlight being Markit Services and Manufacturing PMIs which should show the economy continues to recover after the last delta wave. India’s Balance of Trade could show stress on the import side as the cost of imported energy skyrockets and Northern India struggles with power blackouts. A rally in oil next week will be a headwind for local equities.

Australia & New Zealand

Australian markets are in for a stormy start with the RBA’s credibility and yield control in serious trouble. Hawkish noises are increasing and the benchmark 3-year CGB yield has shot up to 0.75% in the past two days, well above the RBA 0.10% target. If the RBA does not show up on Monday to aggressively buy bonds, markets will price in a change of monetary stance and the sell-off in Australian equities could deepen. The RBA will release its latest policy decision on Tuesday with markets on a knife-edge for a change of stance. Either way, the RBA has a big job on its hands now and will likely have to intervene in bond markets repeatedly next week. It is likely to overshadow the Retail Sales and trade data at the back end of the week.

RBNZ Governor Orr has said that global interest rates have now bottomed, including in New Zealand. Kiwi could be a lot higher, but delta cases have now appeared in the South Island as well as the greater Auckland area. A deterioration over the weekend may weigh on Kiwi and local equity markets. The effects should be temporary though as markets are laser-focused on a 0.50% RBNZ hike this month. NZ Employment and Labour Costs on Wednesday will go a long way to confirming that outcome.


Japanese markets could be choppy on Monday morning after the elections to be held this Sunday. Only a defeat of the ruling LDP, highly unlikely, is likely to have a material impact on Japanese markets. Jibun services PMI and household spending at the end of the week will be of only passing interest.

Key Economic Events

Saturday, Oct. 30

G-20 Summit begins

Sunday, Oct. 31

Economic Data/Events

China Oct manufacturing PMI: 49.7e v 49.6 prior; non-manufacturing PMI: 53.0e v 53.2 prior

Japan general election for its 465-seat lower house of parliament

COP26 starts in Glasgow.

Monday, Nov. 1

Economic Data/Events

US Oct ISM Manufacturing: 60.3e v 61.1 prior, construction spending

Eurozone manufacturing PMI

Germany manufacturing PMI

UK manufacturing PMI

Australia manufacturing PMI, CoreLogic house prices, inflation gauge, home loans value

India manufacturing PMI

Thailand manufacturing PMI, business sentiment index

New Zealand CoreLogic house prices

China Caixin manufacturing PMI

Japan vehicle sales, PMI

Tuesday, Nov. 2

Economic Data/Events

RBA rate decision: Expected to keep both Cash Rate Target and 3-year yield target unchanged at 0.10%

Australia consumer confidence

ECB Enria to speak at Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority seminar on EU financial markets

New Zealand building permits

Switzerland CPI

Singapore PMI, electronics sector index

Japan monetary base

Hong Kong retail sales

US light vehicle sales

South Africa manufacturing PMI

Wednesday, Nov. 3

Economic Data/Events

FOMC Rate Decision: expected to announce it will begin tapering its asset purchases

US factory orders, US durable goods

Poland Rate decision:  Expected to raise base rate by 25bps to 0.75%

Australia building approvals, Markit PMI services and composite, private sector houses

Singapore PMI

South Africa PMI

Japan composite and services PMI

India Markit PMI composite and services

Eurozone Markit services PMI, unemployment

New Zealand Unemployment

China Caixin composite and services PMI

Russia CPI

Spain unemployment

UK Nationwide house prices

EIA Crude Oil Inventory Report

Thursday, Nov. 4

ECB President Lagarde speaks at the Women in Economics conference.

ECB’s Governing Council member Holzmann speaks at a conference in Vienna.

Fed’s Quarles, BOE Deputy Governor Cunliffe speak on a panel at a conference organized by Portuguese securities regulator CMVM.

Economic Data/Events

BOE Rate Decision: Could raise bank rate for the first time since pandemic. Analysts are leaning towards no change, but several are calling for a 15bps increase.

Norges Rate Decision: Expected to keep deposit rate unchanged at 0.25%

Czech Rate Decision: Expected to raise repurchase rate by 50 bps to 2.00%

US trade, initial jobless claims

Eurozone PPI

Germany factory orders

New Zealand ANZ commodity prices

Australia trade

Thailand consumer confidence

OPEC+ meeting on output

Friday, Nov. 5

China International Import Expo (CIIE) begins six-day event

BOE’s Ramsden and Pill deliver a Monetary Policy Report National Agency briefing.

BOE’s Tenreyro appears as a panelist at the IMF 2021 Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference.

Economic Data/Events

US October Change in nonfarm payrolls: 400Ke v 194K prior; Unemployment Rate: 4.7%e v 4.8% prior

Canada unemployment

Eurozone retail sales

Germany Industrial production

Japan household spending

Thailand CPI, foreign reserves, forward contracts

China BoP

Singapore retail sales

Australia RBA statement on monetary policy, foreign reserves

Spain industrial production

South Africa gross and net reserves

Sovereign Rating Updates

France (Fitch)

Denmark (Moody’s) 

Italy (Moody’s) 

Saudi Arabia (Moody’s)

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Chinese migration to US is nothing new – but the reasons for recent surge at Southern border are

A gloomier economic outlook in China and tightening state control have combined with the influence of social media in encouraging migration.




Chinese migrants wait for a boat after having walked across the Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama. AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

The brief closure of the Darien Gap – a perilous 66-mile jungle journey linking South American and Central America – in February 2024 temporarily halted one of the Western Hemisphere’s busiest migration routes. It also highlighted its importance to a small but growing group of people that depend on that pass to make it to the U.S.: Chinese migrants.

While a record 2.5 million migrants were detained at the United States’ southwestern land border in 2023, only about 37,000 were from China.

I’m a scholar of migration and China. What I find most remarkable in these figures is the speed with which the number of Chinese migrants is growing. Nearly 10 times as many Chinese migrants crossed the southern border in 2023 as in 2022. In December 2023 alone, U.S. Border Patrol officials reported encounters with about 6,000 Chinese migrants, in contrast to the 900 they reported a year earlier in December 2022.

The dramatic uptick is the result of a confluence of factors that range from a slowing Chinese economy and tightening political control by President Xi Jinping to the easy access to online information on Chinese social media about how to make the trip.

Middle-class migrants

Journalists reporting from the border have generalized that Chinese migrants come largely from the self-employed middle class. They are not rich enough to use education or work opportunities as a means of entry, but they can afford to fly across the world.

According to a report from Reuters, in many cases those attempting to make the crossing are small-business owners who saw irreparable damage to their primary or sole source of income due to China’s “zero COVID” policies. The migrants are women, men and, in some cases, children accompanying parents from all over China.

Chinese nationals have long made the journey to the United States seeking economic opportunity or political freedom. Based on recent media interviews with migrants coming by way of South America and the U.S.’s southern border, the increase in numbers seems driven by two factors.

First, the most common path for immigration for Chinese nationals is through a student visa or H1-B visa for skilled workers. But travel restrictions during the early months of the pandemic temporarily stalled migration from China. Immigrant visas are out of reach for many Chinese nationals without family or vocation-based preferences, and tourist visas require a personal interview with a U.S. consulate to gauge the likelihood of the traveler returning to China.

Social media tutorials

Second, with the legal routes for immigration difficult to follow, social media accounts have outlined alternatives for Chinese who feel an urgent need to emigrate. Accounts on Douyin, the TikTok clone available in mainland China, document locations open for visa-free travel by Chinese passport holders. On TikTok itself, migrants could find information on where to cross the border, as well as information about transportation and smugglers, commonly known as “snakeheads,” who are experienced with bringing migrants on the journey north.

With virtual private networks, immigrants can also gather information from U.S. apps such as X, YouTube, Facebook and other sites that are otherwise blocked by Chinese censors.

Inspired by social media posts that both offer practical guides and celebrate the journey, thousands of Chinese migrants have been flying to Ecuador, which allows visa-free travel for Chinese citizens, and then making their way over land to the U.S.-Mexican border.

This journey involves trekking through the Darien Gap, which despite its notoriety as a dangerous crossing has become an increasingly common route for migrants from Venezuela, Colombia and all over the world.

In addition to information about crossing the Darien Gap, these social media posts highlight the best places to cross the border. This has led to a large share of Chinese asylum seekers following the same path to Mexico’s Baja California to cross the border near San Diego.

Chinese migration to US is nothing new

The rapid increase in numbers and the ease of accessing information via social media on their smartphones are new innovations. But there is a longer history of Chinese migration to the U.S. over the southern border – and at the hands of smugglers.

From 1882 to 1943, the United States banned all immigration by male Chinese laborers and most Chinese women. A combination of economic competition and racist concerns about Chinese culture and assimilability ensured that the Chinese would be the first ethnic group to enter the United States illegally.

With legal options for arrival eliminated, some Chinese migrants took advantage of the relative ease of movement between the U.S. and Mexico during those years. While some migrants adopted Mexican names and spoke enough Spanish to pass as migrant workers, others used borrowed identities or paperwork from Chinese people with a right of entry, like U.S.-born citizens. Similarly to what we are seeing today, it was middle- and working-class Chinese who more frequently turned to illegal means. Those with money and education were able to circumvent the law by arriving as students or members of the merchant class, both exceptions to the exclusion law.

Though these Chinese exclusion laws officially ended in 1943, restrictions on migration from Asia continued until Congress revised U.S. immigration law in the Hart-Celler Act in 1965. New priorities for immigrant visas that stressed vocational skills as well as family reunification, alongside then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s policies of “reform and opening,” helped many Chinese migrants make their way legally to the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s.

Even after the restrictive immigration laws ended, Chinese migrants without the education or family connections often needed for U.S. visas continued to take dangerous routes with the help of “snakeheads.”

One notorious incident occurred in 1993, when a ship called the Golden Venture ran aground near New York, resulting in the drowning deaths of 10 Chinese migrants and the arrest and conviction of the snakeheads attempting to smuggle hundreds of Chinese migrants into the United States.

Existing tensions

Though there is plenty of precedent for Chinese migrants arriving without documentation, Chinese asylum seekers have better odds of success than many of the other migrants making the dangerous journey north.

An estimated 55% of Chinese asylum seekers are successful in making their claims, often citing political oppression and lack of religious freedom in China as motivations. By contrast, only 29% of Venezuelans seeking asylum in the U.S. have their claim granted, and the number is even lower for Colombians, at 19%.

The new halt on the migratory highway from the south has affected thousands of new migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. But the mix of push factors from their home country and encouragement on social media means that Chinese migrants will continue to seek routes to America.

And with both migration and the perceived threat from China likely to be features of the upcoming U.S. election, there is a risk that increased Chinese migration could become politicized, leaning further into existing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Meredith Oyen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading


Vaccine-skeptical mothers say bad health care experiences made them distrust the medical system

Vaccine skepticism, and the broader medical mistrust and far-reaching anxieties it reflects, is not just a fringe position in the 21st century.

Women's own negative medical experiences influence their vaccine decisions for their kids. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Why would a mother reject safe, potentially lifesaving vaccines for her child?

Popular writing on vaccine skepticism often denigrates white and middle-class mothers who reject some or all recommended vaccines as hysterical, misinformed, zealous or ignorant. Mainstream media and medical providers increasingly dismiss vaccine refusal as a hallmark of American fringe ideology, far-right radicalization or anti-intellectualism.

But vaccine skepticism, and the broader medical mistrust and far-reaching anxieties it reflects, is not just a fringe position.

Pediatric vaccination rates had already fallen sharply before the COVID-19 pandemic, ushering in the return of measles, mumps and chickenpox to the U.S. in 2019. Four years after the pandemic’s onset, a growing number of Americans doubt the safety, efficacy and necessity of routine vaccines. Childhood vaccination rates have declined substantially across the U.S., which public health officials attribute to a “spillover” effect from pandemic-related vaccine skepticism and blame for the recent measles outbreak. Almost half of American mothers rated the risk of side effects from the MMR vaccine as medium or high in a 2023 survey by Pew Research.

Recommended vaccines go through rigorous testing and evaluation, and the most infamous charges of vaccine-induced injury have been thoroughly debunked. How do so many mothers – primary caregivers and health care decision-makers for their families – become wary of U.S. health care and one of its most proven preventive technologies?

I’m a cultural anthropologist who studies the ways feelings and beliefs circulate in American society. To investigate what’s behind mothers’ vaccine skepticism, I interviewed vaccine-skeptical mothers about their perceptions of existing and novel vaccines. What they told me complicates sweeping and overly simplified portrayals of their misgivings by pointing to the U.S. health care system itself. The medical system’s failures and harms against women gave rise to their pervasive vaccine skepticism and generalized medical mistrust.

The seeds of women’s skepticism

I conducted this ethnographic research in Oregon from 2020 to 2021 with predominantly white mothers between the ages of 25 and 60. My findings reveal new insights about the origins of vaccine skepticism among this demographic. These women traced their distrust of vaccines, and of U.S. health care more generally, to ongoing and repeated instances of medical harm they experienced from childhood through childbirth.

girl sitting on exam table faces a doctor viewer can see from behind
A woman’s own childhood mistreatment by a doctor can shape her health care decisions for the next generation. FatCamera/E+ via Getty Images

As young girls in medical offices, they were touched without consent, yelled at, disbelieved or threatened. One mother, Susan, recalled her pediatrician abruptly lying her down and performing a rectal exam without her consent at the age of 12. Another mother, Luna, shared how a pediatrician once threatened to have her institutionalized when she voiced anxiety at a routine physical.

As women giving birth, they often felt managed, pressured or discounted. One mother, Meryl, told me, “I felt like I was coerced under distress into Pitocin and induction” during labor. Another mother, Hallie, shared, “I really battled with my provider” throughout the childbirth experience.

Together with the convoluted bureaucracy of for-profit health care, experiences of medical harm contributed to “one million little touch points of information,” in one mother’s phrase, that underscored the untrustworthiness and harmful effects of U.S. health care writ large.

A system that doesn’t serve them

Many mothers I interviewed rejected the premise that public health entities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration had their children’s best interests at heart. Instead, they tied childhood vaccination and the more recent development of COVID-19 vaccines to a bloated pharmaceutical industry and for-profit health care model. As one mother explained, “The FDA is not looking out for our health. They’re looking out for their wealth.”

After ongoing negative medical encounters, the women I interviewed lost trust not only in providers but the medical system. Frustrating experiences prompted them to “do their own research” in the name of bodily autonomy. Such research often included books, articles and podcasts deeply critical of vaccines, public health care and drug companies.

These materials, which have proliferated since 2020, cast light on past vaccine trials gone awry, broader histories of medical harm and abuse, the rapid growth of the recommended vaccine schedule in the late 20th century and the massive profits reaped from drug development and for-profit health care. They confirmed and hardened women’s suspicions about U.S. health care.

hands point to a handwritten vaccination record
The number of recommended childhood vaccines has increased over time. Mike Adaskaveg/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The stories these women told me add nuance to existing academic research into vaccine skepticism. Most studies have considered vaccine skepticism among primarily white and middle-class parents to be an outgrowth of today’s neoliberal parenting and intensive mothering. Researchers have theorized vaccine skepticism among white and well-off mothers to be an outcome of consumer health care and its emphasis on individual choice and risk reduction. Other researchers highlight vaccine skepticism as a collective identity that can provide mothers with a sense of belonging.

Seeing medical care as a threat to health

The perceptions mothers shared are far from isolated or fringe, and they are not unreasonable. Rather, they represent a growing population of Americans who hold the pervasive belief that U.S. health care harms more than it helps.

Data suggests that the number of Americans harmed in the course of treatment remains high, with incidents of medical error in the U.S. outnumbering those in peer countries, despite more money being spent per capita on health care. One 2023 study found that diagnostic error, one kind of medical error, accounted for 371,000 deaths and 424,000 permanent disabilities among Americans every year.

Studies reveal particularly high rates of medical error in the treatment of vulnerable communities, including women, people of color, disabled, poor, LGBTQ+ and gender-nonconforming individuals and the elderly. The number of U.S. women who have died because of pregnancy-related causes has increased substantially in recent years, with maternal death rates doubling between 1999 and 2019.

The prevalence of medical harm points to the relevance of philosopher Ivan Illich’s manifesto against the “disease of medical progress.” In his 1982 book “Medical Nemesis,” he insisted that rather than being incidental, harm flows inevitably from the structure of institutionalized and for-profit health care itself. Illich wrote, “The medical establishment has become a major threat to health,” and has created its own “epidemic” of iatrogenic illness – that is, illness caused by a physician or the health care system itself.

Four decades later, medical mistrust among Americans remains alarmingly high. Only 23% of Americans express high confidence in the medical system. The United States ranks 24th out of 29 peer high-income countries for the level of public trust in medical providers.

For people like the mothers I interviewed, who have experienced real or perceived harm at the hands of medical providers; have felt belittled, dismissed or disbelieved in a doctor’s office; or spent countless hours fighting to pay for, understand or use health benefits, skepticism and distrust are rational responses to lived experience. These attitudes do not emerge solely from ignorance, conspiracy thinking, far-right extremism or hysteria, but rather the historical and ongoing harms endemic to the U.S. health care system itself.

Johanna Richlin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading


Is the National Guard a solution to school violence?

School board members in one Massachusetts district have called for the National Guard to address student misbehavior. Does their request have merit? A…




Every now and then, an elected official will suggest bringing in the National Guard to deal with violence that seems out of control.

A city council member in Washington suggested doing so in 2023 to combat the city’s rising violence. So did a Pennsylvania representative concerned about violence in Philadelphia in 2022.

In February 2024, officials in Massachusetts requested the National Guard be deployed to a more unexpected location – to a high school.

Brockton High School has been struggling with student fights, drug use and disrespect toward staff. One school staffer said she was trampled by a crowd rushing to see a fight. Many teachers call in sick to work each day, leaving the school understaffed.

As a researcher who studies school discipline, I know Brockton’s situation is part of a national trend of principals and teachers who have been struggling to deal with perceived increases in student misbehavior since the pandemic.

A review of how the National Guard has been deployed to schools in the past shows the guard can provide service to schools in cases of exceptional need. Yet, doing so does not always end well.

How have schools used the National Guard before?

In 1957, the National Guard blocked nine Black students’ attempts to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. While the governor claimed this was for safety, the National Guard effectively delayed desegregation of the school – as did the mobs of white individuals outside. Ironically, weeks later, the National Guard and the U.S. Army would enforce integration and the safety of the “Little Rock Nine” on orders from President Dwight Eisenhower.

Three men from the mob around Little Rock’s Central High School are driven from the area at bayonet-point by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division on Sept. 25, 1957. The presence of the troops permitted the nine Black students to enter the school with only minor background incidents. Bettmann via Getty Images

One of the most tragic cases of the National Guard in an educational setting came in 1970 at Kent State University. The National Guard was brought to campus to respond to protests over American involvement in the Vietnam War. The guardsmen fatally shot four students.

In 2012, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, proposed funding to use the National Guard to provide school security in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The bill was not passed.

More recently, the National Guard filled teacher shortages in New Mexico’s K-12 schools during the quarantines and sickness of the pandemic. While the idea did not catch on nationally, teachers and school personnel in New Mexico generally reported positive experiences.

Can the National Guard address school discipline?

The National Guard’s mission includes responding to domestic emergencies. Members of the guard are part-time service members who maintain civilian lives. Some are students themselves in colleges and universities. Does this mission and training position the National Guard to respond to incidents of student misbehavior and school violence?

On the one hand, New Mexico’s pandemic experience shows the National Guard could be a stopgap to staffing shortages in unusual circumstances. Similarly, the guards’ eventual role in ensuring student safety during school desegregation in Arkansas demonstrates their potential to address exceptional cases in schools, such as racially motivated mob violence. And, of course, many schools have had military personnel teaching and mentoring through Junior ROTC programs for years.

Those seeking to bring the National Guard to Brockton High School have made similar arguments. They note that staffing shortages have contributed to behavior problems.

One school board member stated: “I know that the first thought that comes to mind when you hear ‘National Guard’ is uniform and arms, and that’s not the case. They’re people like us. They’re educated. They’re trained, and we just need their assistance right now. … We need more staff to support our staff and help the students learn (and) have a safe environment.”

Yet, there are reasons to question whether calls for the National Guard are the best way to address school misconduct and behavior. First, the National Guard is a temporary measure that does little to address the underlying causes of student misbehavior and school violence.

Research has shown that students benefit from effective teaching, meaningful and sustained relationships with school personnel and positive school environments. Such educative and supportive environments have been linked to safer schools. National Guard members are not trained as educators or counselors and, as a temporary measure, would not remain in the school to establish durable relationships with students.

What is more, a military presence – particularly if uniformed or armed – may make students feel less welcome at school or escalate situations.

Schools have already seen an increase in militarization. For example, school police departments have gone so far as to acquire grenade launchers and mine-resistant armored vehicles.

Research has found that school police make students more likely to be suspended and to be arrested. Similarly, while a National Guard presence may address misbehavior temporarily, their presence could similarly result in students experiencing punitive or exclusionary responses to behavior.

Students deserve a solution other than the guard

School violence and disruptions are serious problems that can harm students. Unfortunately, schools and educators have increasingly viewed student misbehavior as a problem to be dealt with through suspensions and police involvement.

A number of people – from the NAACP to the local mayor and other members of the school board – have criticized Brockton’s request for the National Guard. Governor Maura Healey has said she will not deploy the guard to the school.

However, the case of Brockton High School points to real needs. Educators there, like in other schools nationally, are facing a tough situation and perceive a lack of support and resources.

Many schools need more teachers and staff. Students need access to mentors and counselors. With these resources, schools can better ensure educators are able to do their jobs without military intervention.

F. Chris Curran has received funding from the US Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the American Civil Liberties Union for work on school safety and discipline.

Read More

Continue Reading