Do police have a place in schools?

The Advancement Project and the Alliance for Educational Justice, advocacy groups working to end the school-to-prison pipeline, have released a report calling for the removal of police from schools. Titled We Came to Learn: A Call to Action for Police-Free Schools, the report looks at the history of police presence in schools and how school policing has interacted with the civil rights movement and the criminalization of Black communities. Drawing on data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and other sources, the report makes a case that students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and immigrant students are disproportionately likely to miss out on opportunities to learn because of overpolicing and that funds spent on police could be better spent on school counselors, reduced class sizes, and other services. Case studies of incidents in Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia, Penn.; and Columbia, S.C., as well as short descriptions of more than 60 instances of police violence in U.S. schools give readers a sense of the kinds of actions the report authors are seeking to prevent.

The report closes with recommendations:

  • Divest from law enforcement strategies in schools.
  • Deprioritize reliance on school police.
  • Disarm school personnel, including police.
  • Decriminalize student misbehavior.
  • Delegitimize policing as a safety mechanism.
  • Dismantle school policing.

Source: Advancement Project & Alliance for Educational Justice. (2018). We came to learn: A call to action for police-free schools. Washington, DC: Authors.

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