debate best path to safety
First came Minneapolis. Then Portland, Denver, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
For others, what’s happening is more a redefinition of school safety.”It is trying to build a world hermes beach bag replica
that’s never existed, to not rely on the criminal legal system, not rely on police to address social issues,” saysAndrew Hairston, director of the School to Prison Pipeline Project at Texas Appleseed, a social justice advocacy group. “It’s encouraging and a little anxiety inducing.”
In the wake of George Floyd dying under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer three weeks ago, there is a growing call to reimagine, if not eliminate, policing in the United States and change is starting inpublic schools.
Reversing a decadeslong trend of heightened police presence, a handful of public school districts have gotten rid of their campus police forces in recent weeks, with others taking steps to discuss reductions and changes. Floyd’s city moved first, with the Minneapolis Public Schools board voting unanimously in early June to end its SRO contract with the city’s police department. A few days later in Oregon the Portland Public Schools superintendent announced the discontinuation of the district’s SRO program with the city’s Police Department, which cost the district no money, and his intention to increase spending on counselors and social workers.
Last week the public school systems in Charlottesville, Virginia,and Denver both voted to end their SRO programs. Their$300,000 and $750,000 contracts, respectively, with local police departments will be put toward alternative safety programs and mental health resources for students, they said. Next week, the Los Angeles Board of Education will consider phasing out police presence in the nation’s second largest school district.
While Mr. Floyd’s killing was “a horrible tragedy,” this is one of the last things school systems should be doing, says Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, a nonprofit organization that offers trainings for SROs.”Schools that do that,” he says, “are losing potentially the best community based policing they could have.”
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After decades, unclear resultsSchool police officers first began appearing in the 1950s. But beginning in the 1990s and accelerating after a 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado police presence has continuously expanded. students attend a school with an SRO, according to Shawn Bushway, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corp.
Yet this “dramatic change in social policy,” he says, has continued “without much evidence.”
“There’s some evidence it decreases serious violence” in schools, he says, “but there’s some evidence it also increases negative outcomes for kids.”
A study published last month found that SRO or police presence at a school corresponds with an increased probability that student incidents will be reported to law enforcement. Notably, that study failed to find evidence that these consequences disproportionately involve students of color.
Another study found that federal grants for school police in Texas increased middle school discipline rates by 6% driven primarily by low level offenses and school code of conduct violations, and with Black students experiencing the largest increases in discipline. “That can translate longer term into a lower likelihood of graduation.”
The benefits of SRO programs are similarly difficult to evaluate. Whether there is a correlation between the two is unclear, however. Whether school police build trust and positive relations between law enforcement and students is also, at least empirically, unclear.
Meanwhile, some research has found a more fundamental drawback to school police programs.
A Tulane University survey of almost 4,000 New Orleans charter school students during the 2018 19 school year found that 69% of white students felt safer in the presence of police compared to 40% of Black students. A survey of thousands of California high school students the year before also found that Black students felt less safe than other students in the presence of police officers, both in and out of school.
“Many well intended school leaders and school board members erroneously believe that they are making schools safer” with school police programs, says Shaun Harper, executive director of the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. “That’s not what students say.”
“And if they are in fact so good for the school community, why don’t we see them in predominantly white schools?” he adds.