Advocacy groups release major report on effects of policing in schools
- Roughly 1.6 million students attend schools that have police on campus — but not a school counselor, according to a report released Thursday from the Advancement Project, an advocacy organization, and the Alliance for Educational Justice, described as a new civil rights organization.
- The report, which recounts the history of police action in schools, explains the need to expand the definition of public safety to include more school-based counselors, social workers and nurses. These professionals are trained to de-escalate community members in distress, while law enforcement are trained to neutralize potential threat.
- The report calls for the removal of police from schools, and envisions schools where black and Latino students are afforded "the presumption of childhood that they deserve." This will improve safety for students of color, as well as the quality of their educational experience, they say. They also provide case studies and other resources.
In light of recent school shootings, administrators across the country are grappling with figuring out the best approach to student and staff safety on their campuses. The Federal Commission on School Safety hasn't yet released its final recommendations, but the focus of much of the discussion has been on preventive measures along the lines of what the report suggests.
Meanwhile, though, after a request by a school district in Texas to buy firearms for teachers with Title IV-A funds, Congress is looking at whether districts can use the Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant under the Every Student Succeeds Act to purchase school security equipment.
The recent Phi Delta Kappa International poll shows that many parents are worried that their children are unsafe at school, and that the public supports more trained school resource officers in schools. Critics, however, maintain that officers unfairly target black and brown students. "We must eliminate laws and statutes that criminalize students for age-appropriate behavior, like the statutes that make it a crime to disturb school or act in an obnoxious manner in school," the report recommends. "Eliminating these laws while enacting policies that require the use of alternatives to exclusionary discipline and arrest will decrease the number of youth funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline and help establish a positive school climate for all students."