Jan 20, 2013
New federal funds for safe schools should go for more counselors, social workers and psychologists, and not more police in schools, several groups are arguing.
Students and parents from across the city will hold a press conference Monday, January 21, 2 p.m. at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark to make their case.
President Obama has proposed spending $150 million on police “school resource officers,” counselors and psychologists.
“We have ten full-time school security guards and two full-time armed school police, but we don’t even have one school psychologist,” said VOYCE student leader Ahkeem Wright in a release.
A CTU study last year found CPS was staffed far below recommended levels for school nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists.
CPS’s approach “has led to record-public spending, stark racial disparities and the overuse of school-based arrests for misdemeanor offenses – even as homicide and gun violence in the surrounding communities skyrocket,” the groups maintain.
Chicago has had among the highest in-school arrest rates in the nation, and last year there were an average of 25 students arrested in school every day here, compared to 5 in New York City, with twice as many students, according to VOYCE.
“Students are being arrested for misbehavior that 20 years ago would have meant a trip to the principal’s office,” said VOYCE coordinator Emma Tai. “It’s not punishment, it’s not consequences — it’s criminalization.”
In 2011, CPS voluntarily increased its payments for police officers stationed in schools from $8 million a year to $25 million. A new contract is set to be renewed at this month’s school board meeting.
“We need more ways to support our students, not more cops to arrest them for little things,” said POWER-PAC co-chair Felipa Mena, a restorative justice peacemaker at Wells High School whose son – as Wells graduate – was killed in a street shooting in 2009.