Cops in Schools Deepens the Criminalization of Black Boys

“Currently 13 states have no minimum age in trying children as adults. Now imagine the thousands of Black boys who are being impacted by this with more cops in schools than counselors.” 

I am constantly reminded of the unfair treatment of Black boys in schools by the increase of cops in schools. In a recent visit to the Legacy Museum I cried looking at the highlights reflecting the creation and impact of the school-to-prison pipeline. National data reflects the challenges of Black boys face in schools across America.

Imagine being specifically targeted through education to fail and be unjustly swept into the criminal justice system. Educators witness the War on Black Boys in our schools yet there are no laws, resources or current advocacy to change laws that try children as adults; specifically Black boys. One statement in the museum that stood out to me was this, “In the 21st century 1 in 3 Black boys is expected to go to jail or prison.” Of course the statement is not shocking; this is America. American history reflects the systematic oppression of Black males and the tense relationship of police officers and Black males. This is why we must change the policies around more cops being added in schools over counselors.

Every year, far too many African-American boys fail to graduate from high school and attend a competitive four-year college. What’s standing in their way?

The organization that is leading the movement and conversation of counselors not cops is Dignity in Schools. They are calling for law makers to end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools. This helps us as educators especially Black male teachers.

As there is a low yet slowly growing number of Black male educators in the nation, having more counselors in schools to promote the work of SEL (social emotional learning) impacts discipline in a positive way. This a win for everyone especially with the disproportionate number of Black boys being suspended and pushed out of schools.

There are people, like President Trump, who want more cops in schools. We’re educating children, not preparing prisoners. Or are we? Supporters of more cops being in schools want to decrease funding for SEL and special education while getting rid of funding for after school and mentoring programs. As educators we know that these are areas that greatly impact the success of closing the achievement gap of Black boys. 

Schools that educate Black boys with classrooms built or designed like space centers are the ones that get how to make innovation work. They are the schools our boys dream about having. 

The #CounselorsNotCops campaign is calling for the removal of any law enforcement personnel assigned to be present on a regular basis in schools, including sworn officers (and unsworn if they are armed security), municipal police officers, school police officers, school resource officers (SROs), sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, tribal officers, truancy officers, ICE officers or other immigration officials and armed security guards.

This call for action helps teachers by allowing policy makers and school leaders to utilize funding to support researched based practices such as social emotional learning to create cultures in schools that would eliminate the expectation that 1 in 3 black boys is expected to go to jail or prison. If we had more counselors, specifically Black males, in schools then we would see the achievement gap with Black boys change.

We need more Black male educators who truly want to impact the ways in which Black boys are being taught. Pre-K through higher education most Black boys may have at least three Black male teachers during their entire educational journey. Thousands of Black boys who are negatively impacted by the increase of cops in schools over counselors can instead be positively impacted by seeing more Black male teachers early learning through elementary school.

“Anyone can support this cause; Red, Yellow, Black, Brown or White.” People can support by advocating for their school board leaders support counselors/SEL programs and not more cops in schools. Supporters can encourage local policy makers to change injustice laws targeting Black boys. 

This month is National Black Educators as well as Advocacy Awareness Month. Support us by posting pictures of Black Male Educators with messages celebrating them and encouraging more Black males to become educators. Use the hashtag #BME on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and our Facebook page EdLanta. For additional resources follow @jballen5 on Twitter.



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