More than Reduced Police Presence: Schools Must Commit to Implementing Restorative Justice.
In this historic moment, cities across the nation are recognizing the damage caused by police presence in schools. From disproportionate action in response to small offenses, to police involvement in tantrums and dress code violations, officers militarize school environments in ways that harm all students, but especially students of color. In New York City, the schools chancellor recently announced that police will no longer be called to respond to low-level incidents; districts from Minneapolis to Denver to Portland, Oregon, are taking police out of schools altogether. But the goal must be broader than removing police from school. When students return to classrooms, they will be carrying heavy burdens of trauma and violence. And science shows that trauma can change the very architecture of children’s brains—affecting focus, learning and relationships. Educators and policymakers should expect this, and prepare for it. If we want our schools to be places of healing, safety and health for all children, we need to invest in reconnecting and protecting youth.