I’ve been mulling this over for a few days, but this still makes no sense to me.
Howard Board of Education adds mental health positions to budget to assist school resource officer program Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun
It’s as though the Board of Education skimmed all the letters from the community, petitions, and accompanying data and the exhortation to have “counselors, not cops” stuck in their heads but in a wholly distorted way.
“Well, gee, we have lots of people here who are all riled up. Let’s give everybody something that they want. We’ll have counselors and cops.”
The movement to remove SROs from our schools continues to be active locally and is being considered at the state level as well. There is a big difference between “counselors, not cops” and “counselors and cops.”
It seems that the BOE doesn’t really want to make that SRO decision. They’d rather someone else did it for them. But this move is a move of avoidance and it also disrespects all the students and families who have shared their lived experiences of poor treatment at the hands of school police. It seems to be trying to mollify white (pro-SRO) parents while throwing a bone to Black and Brown parents.
I agree with Board member Antonia Watts, who said:
We seriously need to address mental health, irrespective of what we do with SROs... I can’t see why we’re coupling mental health with cops. It seems disingenuous, actually. These things should be pulled apart, and we should take care of the mental health needs of our children, and we can deal with the security in a different way.
If the way that the Board is going to try to resolve this issue is by trying to give everyone something that they want, I propose the following:
- At the middle school level, put SRO’s in the whitest, most affluent schools. The other schools will get counselors.
- At the high school level, where each school has officers, the counselors should be allocated in such a way that the schools with the most Black and Brown students get the most counseling staff.
Does that seem like an odd way to make decisions to you? It is. But, I’m just trying to give everyone something they want, right?
When it comes to school policing, we can’t fudge our way out of it by trying to make everybody happy. We need to be clear on the difference between right and wrong and then actively make the right choice, no matter how much pushback we get. If school policing harms Black and Brown students then it is bad for our school system as a whole, period.
I’m all for increasing mental health resources for students. I’d also like to see more funds allocated for restorative justice training. But it should not be at the expense of looking the other way on the issue of school policing. By making this some kind of a trade-off, the Board of Education is neglecting its responsibility to be champions of all children.
“Counselors, not cops” vs “Counselors and cops.” There’s a very big difference.
Surely the Members of the Board should have a better understanding of their parts of speech.