The New York City Council is considering a bill that would use public school funding to provide NY Police Department safety agents to private schools. In response, Kesi Foster, Coordinator for the Urban Youth Collaborative, wrote an op-ed recently arguing this bill not only hurts public schools financially, but also directly contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.
The bill would require the NYPD to place at least one safety agent in every public or private school that asked. This would divert funding from public schools and from the restorative justice programs and school support staff those funds could be used for instead. Meanwhile, the increased police presence in schools would reinforce the criminalization of students and likely contribute to the over-policing and disproportionate school disciplining of students of color. As Foster says:
The NYPD’s School Safety Division would already be the fifth largest municipal police force in the country. We employ 1,500 more school safety agents and school police officers than guidance counselors and social workers combined.
Simply put, there is no need to hire any more school safety agents. Our greatest need is to provide funding for restorative justice programs and increasing the number of guidance counselors and social workers to close the discipline gap so we can finally begin to close the opportunity gap in our education system. Let’s say no to Intro 65 and instead focus on treating our children like the students they are.
You can read the entire op-ed here.